A Nobel laureate has retracted a Nature Chemistry paper on the origins of life on Earth, Retraction Watch reports.
Harvard University's Jack Szostak received the 2009 Nobel Prize in Medicine alongside the University of California, San Francisco's Elizabeth Blackburn and Johns Hopkins University's Carol Greider for their work on telomere. His lab's focus has since changed to figuring out how life emerged on Earth.
A paper he and his lab published last year purported to show that it was possible for RNA to copy itself using a certain peptide. However, Retraction Watch reports that follow-up experiments in the lab found that the peptide didn't actually help in RNA replication. Szostak tells it that the errors he and his lab made in interpreting their data were "definitely embarrassing," as they were "totally blinded by our belief" in what they'd found and that "we were not as careful or rigorous as we should have been."
The retraction notice at Nature Chemistry adds that the design of the experiment introduced random errors, which led the researchers to misinterpret the false positive results they observed.