GSK retracts paper on early MS study, suspends programme, sacks group leader

GlaxoSmithKline has discovered that data in a paper published by Nature Medicine in 2010 had been “misrepresented” and is beginning the process for the paper to be withdrawn. In a blog post, the journal concludes that data that was presented as having come from patients’s cells had in fact come from healthy donor cells “or cannot be documented at all”.

GSK’s statement confirms that “One individual has been dismissed from GSK; a second has submitted his resignation and three others have been placed on administrative leave, pending a final review.” The individual who has been dismissed is Jingwu Zhang, head of the company’s neuro-immunology centre in Shanghai, and corresponding author on the paper, while Xuebin Liu, first author on the paper, has also resigned from GSK.

The data in question related to GSK 2618960, which is being explored for potential benefits in multiple sclerosis and other auto-immune diseases. While the programme has been suspended, the Financial Times reports that no decision has yet been made on whether to terminate development.