In this issue, we are retracting two papers by Paolo Macchiarini and co-authors after receiving requests to do so from the new President of the Karolinska Institute (KI), Ole Petter Ottersen. In its final decision, the KI finds that the research reported in the 2011 Lancet paper and elements of a Review published in 2012 “constitutes scientific misconduct”. In his request for retraction, Ottersen states that ”no ethical permit had been obtained for the underlying research. The research was carried out without sufficient support by preclinical data, and the paper presents its data in a way that is unduly positive and uncritical. The clinical findings reported are not supported by source data.”
Macchiarini is a surgeon who used therapeutic cloning to make tracheas for people whose original organs were failing, and who surgically installed them. He documented his procedures and results in medical papers submitted to The Lancet. After being dogged by critics for his unethical clinical methods and the very high mortality rate of his patients, the publication finally retracted his findings.
It's a dark day for those of us who want to see progress in life-extending biotechnologies.