University investigates retracted research findings

By Sarelle Azuelos

Six years ago, a University of Calgary researcher, along with peers from South Korea, claimed to have found a way to control blood glucose levels for up to five months.

The study was retracted last week and the U of C started an informal investigation into the cause.

Former U of C diabetes research chair Dr. Ji-Won Yoon, now deceased, called the findings the high point of his career in November 2000.

The group said that a single injection of a specialized gene on Type 1 diabetic test mice let them live temporarily without regular insulin injections and no apparent side-effects. Type 1 diabetes, or juvenile diabetes, has no cure.

“Three of the authors . . . wish to retract this letter on the grounds that they have been unable to reproduce the results,” said Nature, the journal which initially published the study, in a statement.

One c0-author, though, stands by the original findings.

The university will not be investigating its peer review process or any specific individuals, said faculty of medicine communications director Jody MacPherson.

“We’re looking into the retraction because we’re a research-intensive university and whenever there’s something like this, a retraction, we take it very seriously,” said MacPherson.

The investigation will remain informal because there has been no official complaint brought to the university.

“The retraction was based on the inability to reproduce the results and that could be for many reasons, so I think we have to be careful not to make any assumptions [about] the reasons,” said MacPherson.

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