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A Chinese scientist is suing two of his colleagues for defamation, saying his reputation has been damaged by claims that a research paper they co-wrote contains fraudulent data.

The 2003 paper in Nature Biotechnology reported the discovery of a new antibiotic called pheromonicin, but in a letter written to the journal in December 2005, six of the 18 authors claimed the findings had been falsified (see Out to debunk: China's 'science police').

Lead researcher Qiu Xiao-Qing, of Sichuan University, refutes the allegations saying they are based on a disagreement between parties with a commercial interest in the research.

Yet two of his critical co-authors are government researchers at the National Sichuan Antibiotic Industrial Institute, with no known financial stake in the case. They say they told Qiu that the sample he sent them had no specific antibacterial effect.

Claiming damage to his reputation, Qiu last week filed a lawsuit demanding that both researchers apologise and pay US$1,200 in compensation.

Qiu's main co-author, George Wu of the US-based University of Connecticut Medical Center, says he cannot confirm the validity of the data either.

Link to full article in Science