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Delayed retraction

Science magazine announced the retraction of an article published in 2014 by a group led by American immunologist Bruce Beutler, winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. The paper had suggested that there was evidence that virus-like elements in the human genome play an important role in the immune system’s response to pathogens. Beutler, a researcher at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, requested the retraction himself in January after failed attempts to replicate the results, but lead author Ming Zeng, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas, maintained that his data was robust. Science decided to wait until another attempt to reproduce the findings had been performed. In the end, the results were inconclusive, and it chose to retract the article. “If we had known it was going to take so long, we might have published an expression of concern beforehand,” Science’s editor in chief, Jeremy Berg, told the website Retraction Watch, referring to a notice used to warn that there are doubts about the results of an article. The paper has been cited 50 times according to the Web of Science database, eight of which were recorded since January, when Beutler first asked for it to be retracted.