A review into the behaviour of disgraced former Karolinska Institute visiting professor Paolo Macchiarini has found the six researcher papers he authored about the transplantation of synthetic tracheas are misleading and omit information.
An expert group formed by the Central Ethical Review Board of Sweden found that the behaviour of Dr Macchiarini and his colleagues constituted scientific misconduct.
It requests that the six research papers are retracted from the journals they are published in.
Dr Macchiarini was once a once a world-renowned thoracic surgeon who pioneered the use of an artificial trachea seeded with a patient's own stem cells. But several of his patients died after having the operation and allegations of research misconduct swirled around him.
The Karolinska Institute asked the Expert Group on Scientific Misconduct to investigate the case and it appointed two external professors, Martin Björck, of Uppsala University, and Detlev Ganten, founding president of the World Health Summit, to do so.
In a statement, the Central Ethical Review Board said: “The expert group state that the transplantations are described successfully in the articles, which is not the fact. The Expert Group also establish that the information in the articles are misleading and beautifying regarding the patients conditions and furthermore that information has been withhold in this purpose and that this constitutes scientific misconduct.”
“In addition, there is false information of ethical approval, which also constitute scientific misconduct,” it adds.
The expert group found that all co-authors of the six articles are “guilty of scientific misconduct” but had varying degrees of responsibility.
“The main responsibility lies on Paolo Macchiarini as the main author and research-leader and others who have had a more prominent role in the research and the authorship. The more detailed responsibility and the future consequences for the respective authors is up to their employers to decide,” said the Board.
In October, Swedish prosecutors dropped a manslaughter investigation against Dr Macchiarini after three patients who had synthetic tracheas fitted died.
A previous investigation, by Bengt Gerdin of Uppsala University in 2015, also found that there was scientific misconduct in the six articles but at the time the Karolinska Institute chose to clear Dr Macchiarini and his colleagues of wrongdoing, so the case was later reopened by the university.