[ExI] Medical "research"?
pharos at gmail.com
Fri Apr 6 14:04:15 UTC 2012
In cancer science, many "discoveries" don't hold up
By Sharon Begley, Reuters
Mar. 28, 2012 11:09AM PDT
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A former researcher at Amgen Inc has found that
many basic studies on cancer -- a high proportion of them from
university labs -- are unreliable, with grim consequences for
producing new medicines in the future.
During a decade as head of global cancer research at Amgen, C. Glenn
Begley identified 53 "landmark" publications -- papers in top
journals, from reputable labs -- for his team to reproduce. Begley
sought to double-check the findings before trying to build on them for
Result: 47 of the 53 could not be replicated. He described his
findings in a commentary piece published on Wednesday in the journal
Scientists at Bayer did not have much more success. In a 2011 paper
titled, "Believe it or not," they analyzed in-house projects that
built on "exciting published data" from basic science studies. "Often,
key data could not be reproduced," wrote Khusru Asadullah, vice
president and head of target discovery at Bayer HealthCare in Berlin,
Of 47 cancer projects at Bayer during 2011, less than one-quarter
could reproduce previously reported findings, despite the efforts of
three or four scientists working full time for up to a year. Bayer
dropped the projects.
The problem goes beyond cancer.
On Tuesday, a committee of the National Academy of Sciences heard
testimony that the number of scientific papers that had to be
retracted increased more than tenfold over the last decade; the number
of journal articles published rose only 44 percent.
Ferric Fang of the University of Washington, speaking to the panel,
said he blamed a hypercompetitive academic environment that fosters
poor science and even fraud, as too many researchers compete for
"The surest ticket to getting a grant or job is getting published in a
high-profile journal," said Fang. "This is an unhealthy belief that
can lead a scientist to engage in sensationalism and sometimes even
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