Two days after a heart research paper was retracted, questions have been raised about a stem cell study overseen by the same prominent Brigham and Women’s Hospital cardiovascular researcher.
In an “expression of concern” posted online Thursday night, editors of the British medical journal The Lancet said Harvard Medical School had notified them of an ongoing investigation examining the “integrity of certain data” used in two sets of images of cells in a 2011 paper overseen by Dr. Piero Anversa at the Brigham.
Both Anversa’s 2011 paper and a separate 2012 study that was withdrawn from the journal Circulation earlier this week examined the regenerative capacity of the heart, in an effort to harness cardiac stem cells to repair damaged or diseased heart muscle.
“This notice of concern, coupled with the recent retraction, is extremely troubling because of the large number of clinical trials inspired by reports from this group, the many desperate patients potentially affected, and the large amount of federal and private money that has been diverted from other areas of promising research to pursue these ideas,” Dr. Jonathan Epstein, a professor of cardiovascular research at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, wrote in an e-mail.
Neither of the journals has been specific about who is at fault or what the nature of the problems are, but the papers come from the laboratory of an extremely influential and controversial figure in the high-profile field of cardiac stem cells.
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