Two More Gene Therapy Papers Retracted

Two more papers have been retracted by Savio Woo, a noted gene therapy researcher at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.

Last week, Mount Sinai issued a statement saying that two posdocs in Woo's lab had been fired for misconduct but that an internal investigation had cleared Woo of any wrongdoing. Woo voluntarily retracted four papers, including two that described a method for delivering therapeutic genes using an enzyme from a bacteriophage, a virus that infects bacteria. This method, pioneered by Michele Calos of Stanford University, has the potential advantage that some phage enzymes insert genes into specific spots in the genome, instead of inserting genes randomly as virus-based gene-delivery methods tend to do.

But Calos told Science earlier this week that she was skeptical of Woo's bacteriophage findings because her own lab had tried using this particular enzyme, called phiBT1 integrase, without much success. "It was kind of a dud," she said. Woo's lab published two additional papers on phiBT1 integrase, both in Molecular Therapy in 2007, that had not been retracted as this week's issue of Science went to press.

Greg Miller

Greg Miller is a science and technology journalist based in Portland, Oregon.