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Falsified images

The journal Nature Medicine has redacted a paper on multiple sclerosis (MS) that was published in 2010 and signed by researchers at the multinational pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). An investigation conducted by the company in June 2013 found evidence of data manipulation. One of the authors of the article, Jungwu Zang, who is Chinese, was dismissed seven months ago but refused to sign a document agreeing to collaborate with the journal. Zang, who was head of the GSK’s neurodegenerative disease research center in China, eventually signed the document, in December 2013, along with eight scientists from the company and from Baylor College of Medicine, in Texas. The article detailed the functioning of two substances in MS – the interleukin-7 receptor (IL-7R) and T helper 17 – and presented images of blood samples drawn from healthy subjects and patients presenting the illness. One of the images depicted blood samples from healthy people but was captioned as coming from MS patients.

The authors are also suspected of duplicating another image, which is presented as two different results in the study. The scientists blamed the journal for faulty editing. In a note, GSK expressed regret over the episode and confirmed the irregularities in the images.