Researchers may retract paper on revolutionary reactome array
Madrid/Braunschweig - Spanish and German scientists who last year reported a groundbreaking technology that is able to identify the whole set of biochemical reactions in bacteria or cells, together with the enzymes involved, have been recommended to retract their paper (Science, 2009 Oct 9;326(5950):252-7). The Ethics Committee of the Spanish Research Council (CSIC, Madrid) has concluded that the paper describing the ‘reactome array’ should not have been published because controls had not been properly carried out. An official statement detailing the criticism from an additional committee at the German Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HIZ, Braunschweig) will be given on 11 August, said a HIZ spokesman. The committees, headed by Pere Puigdomenich (CSIC) and Ronald Frank (HIZ), were established after a number of organic chemists criticised that some of the chemical reactions used to synthesise the fluorescence-quenched metabolites spotted onto the chip were not feasible. However, the recommendation from the CSIC does not say that the array does not function. “We don't know”, said head of the investigation Puigdomenich, speaking to Nature. “We only criticise the way the science in this paper was conducted and reported – we would be happy if someone could validate it.” The lead authors, Peter Golyshin and Manuel Ferrer, were not available for comment. The technique, which has already been used for functional analyses of the metabolic activity of sequenced marine bacteria, promised to be the first experimental tool to help verify computational predictions on the metabolism and function of microorganisms. At this time, all assumptions regarding microbial metabolism are based on DNA sequence analyses. A first-of-its-kind, the reactome array promised to help to unravel through experimentation the functions of hypothetical genes. The CSIC is considering a disciplinary investigation of the scientists involved in the study. It remains open what the recommendations from the HIZ committee and an additional committee involved at the University of Wales in Bangor will contain.