Schneider Shorts on 4 June 2021, with Israeli Scientists jokes, the business model of Nature Medicine, Retraction Watch exposing a fraudster, life extension by naturopathy, and a dirty old man.
Table of discontent
Updated on For Better Science
Updated on For Better Science
Eric Lam sacked
Time to thank Ivan Oransky of Retraction Watch again, for cleaning up the science of yet another cheater. The cancer research professor Eric Lam was sacked by the Imperial College London, as Retraction Watch exclusively reported on 28 May 2021. A paper with Lam as last author was retracted, Intuyod et al Cell Death and Disease, 2018. Unlike other 30 papers authored by Lam, this one was not flagged on PubPeer.
A spokesperson for Imperial is quoted by Retraction Watch:
“We commissioned a thorough independent investigation following allegations of research misconduct against Dr Eric Lam. We found a clear case of research misconduct, and Dr Lam has been dismissed from Imperial College London. We contacted the journal Cell Death and Disease to retract this paper and informed Dr Lam’s funders of our decision.
The panel considered a number of allegations relating to several papers by Dr Lam, but only found evidence of research misconduct in relation to this paper and only sought this retraction.”
So which other allegations? We cannot know because Retraction Watch doesn’t say. Well, I covered the case already in November 2018, based on Clare Francis‘ PubPeer evidence. I also reported the affair to Imperial, and was served this reply from Jon B Hancock (BA Hons), Head of Central Secretariat at Imperial College:
“Dear Mr Schneider, I am replying on behalf of the Vice-Provost (Research and Enterprise). The College is aware of the allegations made by ‘Clare Francis’ and on the Pubpeer website, and is arranging for an investigation to take place. As you will be aware, the College’s procedures set out that all investigations are to be treated as confidential unless and until there is a proven finding of research misconduct in order to protect researchers from ill-founded, frivolous or malicious complaints. Consequently, the College will not enter into further correspondence on the progress of a confidential investigation.“
It is strange they found nothing in these papers. Especially since Lam’s PhD student and coauthor Jimmy Kwok even admitted manipulations in an email to me:
I am not denying/approving your critical analysis of mistakes in my thesis or 1 of the several publications i have made which was done many years ago, you are free to interpret/Make observations, which at the end of the day were all peer reviewed.
What my main issue is- your article was written mainly citing issues with Prof Eric Lam but you have then started your commentaries about my work. I have severe concerns about your article which is written in a way inferring collusion on my part i.e. intentional fabrication amongst other Eric’s papers which I categorically deny, and will defend in court if need to.
You have to realise the difference between genuine mistakes on diagrams which do not have significant impact on conclusion of hypothesis put forward – which were confirmed by one of my main rival laboratory Gartel at that moment in time and malpractice or systemic abuse of images – which is what you are inferring on your blog about myself.
I have spoken with my other colleagues who have shared the same view and in truth, I had received very little supervision from him during my years there.“
There may be a simple reason why Imperial found only one paper of Lam’s fraudulent, and the others not. That Intuyod et al 2018 paper lists authors with almost exclusively Asian names. But other Lam publications, including those with Kwok, have many Englishmen and other important white gentlemen on them, like Rene Medema, professor at NKI in Netherlands, or Shaun B Thomas, professor at King’s College, or Simon Wagner, professor in Leicester, or Charles Coombes, who is even professor at Imperial. They sure can’t use any retractions.
Nabil Ahmed corrects a paper
Research fraud would not be fun if universities and elite journals were not part of it.
Remember Nabil Ahmed, cancer researcher at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Tx, who retracted a Nature paper for fraud? Smut Clyde covered the case in January 2019 here. Just a few weeks later, the paper Samaha et al Nature 2018 was retracted:
“The authors cannot confirm at present the results in the affected figures and thus would wish to retract the paper.”
So which lessons did Ahmed draw from the affair? That his university is behind him, his other 10 papers on PubPeer were not a problem at all. There were not even corrections, one measly expression of concern in Journal of Clinical Investigation from August 2019, which is obviously never going to be resolved.
And now Nature Medicine did two interesting things. First, they accepted a paper from Ahmed despite his previous retraction for fraud in Nature (similar to how Nature Medicine published a paper from Carlos Lopez-Otin after he retracted for fraud in Nature Cell Biology). Accepted without looking, because the paper was utterly fake, with no less than 49 image duplications. Nature was so eager again to offer some second chances (like with Patrice Dunoyer before) that they didn’t even bother to check the submission for fraud. After all, Ahmed was not a corresponding author, initially at least.
Laura K. Donovan, Alberto Delaidelli , [….] , Poul H. Sorensen, Nabil Ahmed, Michael D. Taylor Locoregional delivery of CAR T cells to the cerebrospinal fluid for treatment of metastatic medulloblastoma and ependymoma Nature Medicine (2020) doi: 10.1038/s41591-020-0827-2
Here are some of the 49 duplications:
So the second thing which Nature Medicine did was to issue a correction for that fake paper, reminding you that conclusions remain unaffected. And Ahmed is now restored as corresponding author, meaning he can draw even bigger grants from it now.
This is how the Corrigendum, published on 27 April 2021, started:
“In the version of this article initially published, a corresponding author (Nabil Ahmed) was not identified as such. The correct citation should include an ‘envelope’ icon that links to the following email address: email@example.com.
There were 49 duplication or placement errors in BLI images (Figs. 1, 3 and 4 and Supplementary Figs. 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 10, 13 and 15) and H&E images (Supplementary Figs. 1, 2, 4, 7 and 15). The correct images are now provided, and a complete list of the images that were corrected is included in the table here. These errors happened during the preparation of the final version of the figures, which comprised over 2,500 BLI and H&E image panels, and did not affect the results of the paper, as quantification was done using primary data acquired at the same time as the imaging and was independent of images presented in the figures.”
The fake results of the fake paper are not affected by the fake correction.
You might think the editors of that journal (impact factor 36, meaning one single paper there translates into huge grants and tenure) are incompetent morons, but no. Nature Medicine is actually a cunning scam by the Nature Publishing Group, who like to play tough and retract fraud and bunk in their other journals. But sScience cheaters and bullshitters are actually valuable customers, much more valuable than the boring honest rest, and Nature Medicine is there for these crooks.
At this point, everything published in Nature Medicine is to be considered to be fake or bunk until proven otherwise.
Moshe Szyf, rejuvenated by Naturopathy
Silly me, I totally failed to understand why the McGill University in Montreal, Canada, was so reluctant to investigate the papers of their geneticist Moshe Szyf (read my reporting here). Turns out, Professor Szyf has discovered the fountain of youth!
It was published in the fanciest journals of all, Aging (where even Chinese paper mill fraud found a home).
Kara N. Fitzgerald, Romilly Hodges, Douglas Hanes, Emily Stack, David Cheishvili, Moshe Szyf, Janine Henkel, Melissa W. Twedt, Despina Giannopoulou, Josette Herdell, Sally Logan, Ryan Bradley Potential reversal of epigenetic age using a diet and lifestyle intervention: a pilot randomized clinical trial Aging (2021) doi: 10.18632/aging.202913
A press release was issued by the publisher of Aging and the story made news worldwide:
“The study, released on April 12, utilized a randomized controlled clinical trial conducted among 43 healthy adult males between the ages of 50-72. The 8-week treatment program included diet, sleep, exercise and relaxation guidance, and supplemental probiotics and phytonutrients, resulting in a statistically significant reduction of biological age—over three years younger, compared to controls.
The study was independently conducted by the Helfgott Research Institute, with laboratory assistance from Yale University Center for Genome Analysis, and the results independently analyzed at McGill University and the National University of Natural Medicine.”
That Helfgott Research Institute in Portland, OR, which openly describes itself as pursing “naturopath” method and “employs traditional approaches combined with natural medicine such as herbs, homeopathy, hydrotherapy, and acupuncture in order to prevention and treatment.” And of course, yin and yang is on the programme:
“Instead of studying medicines individually or in a manner that would reduce an herb to its constituent components, Helfgott researchers look at a combination of herbs being administered.“
Helfgott claims to be funded by NIH’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and declares:
“We envision Helfgott as the premier natural medicine research institute. Our vision includes a consortium of researchers from naturopathic medicine, Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, physical medicine, energy medicine, and other natural medicine disciplines.”
Maybe Szyf should leave McGill and work there full-time. For naturopathy, Ayurveda and TCM, the only way to prove their efficacy is to fake the results.
Szyf, described as “Leading epigeneticist”, was quoted in the press release:
“The uniqueness of Dr. Fitzgerald’s approach is that her trial devised a natural but mechanistic driven strategy to target the methylation system of our body. This study provides the first insight into the possibility of using natural alterations to target epigenetic processes and improve our well being and perhaps even longevity and lifespan.”
None of the churnalists excitingly reporting the anti-ageing breakthrough noticed that the study was done by naturopaths peddling TCM and Ayurveda.
Moshe Szyf is an Israeli, so with his new naturopathic anti-aging actually we are in the category of Israeli Scientists Jokes. The devout orthodox, who previously cured cancer with Photoshop, is prone to peddling quackeries: some years before Szyf claimed that “Jewish guilt” can be epigenetically inherited trans-generationally, here his quote in Times of Israel:
“Do uniquely Jewish experiences from the past — like the pogroms our great-grandparents escaped — affect the way we behave today? I think that’s a valid question“
Szyf even suggested the Israeli and American Jews are intellectually superior to those who stayed behind, to be purged in the Holocaust:
“Jews that left Europe were highly self-selected for their survival skills and perseverance […] Jews have always tended to lead lives that emphasized education, family structure and religious values” Szyf says. So it should come as no surprise that these values have been passed on.”
I never thought I will see a Jewish scientist relativate Shoah and bait the most dangerous of antisemitic cliches, but here were are. But then again, I myself come from those inferior European Jews, my exterminated great-grandparents were apparently not that genetically advanced and hence not a big loss. Eugenics is fun.
Israeli Scientists Joke 2
We remain on this most important topic of anti-aging and life extension. Informed readers will now say, well that’s all very nice with Ayurveda and TCM, but science, embodied by Harvard professor and businessman David Sinclair, has spoken already: it’s the sirtuins which are the target, and resveratrol or NAD+supplements are the secret to immortality.
And this is where Israeli Scientists, male of course, step in. Meet the academic offspring of Sinclair’s own loins, his former postdoc Haim Cohen, now professor for life extension at Bar-Ilan University, Israel. Jerusalem Post informs:
“Researchers from Bar-Ilan University were able to increase the life expectancy of mice by an average of 30%, as detailed in a press release from the university on Monday. […]
“This discovery, combined with our previous findings, shows that SIRT6 controls the rate of healthy aging,” says Prof. Cohen, of Bar-Ilan University’s Mina and Everard Goodman Faculty of Life Sciences. “If we can determine how to activate it in humans, we will be able to prolong life, and this could have enormous health and economic implications,” he concluded. “
It was published in a Nature-themed journal, Nature Communications (where you pay €4,530 to publish your stuff).
A. Roichman, S. Elhanati , M. A. Aon , I. Abramovich , A. Di Francesco , Y. Shahar , M. Y. Avivi , M. Shurgi , A. Rubinstein , Y. Wiesner , A. Shuchami , Z. Petrover , I. Lebenthal-Loinger , O. Yaron , A. Lyashkov , C. Ubaida-Mohien , Y. Kanfi , B. Lerrer , P. J. Fernández-Marcos , M. Serrano , E. Gottlieb, R. De Cabo, H. Y. Cohen Restoration of energy homeostasis by SIRT6 extends healthy lifespan Nature Communications (2021) doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-23545-7
Conflicts of interest declared:
“The authors declare the following competing interests: H.Y.C. advises SirTLab Ltd. The remaining authors declare no competing interests“.
Cohen is not just advising, here is their scientific director. SirTLab declared on Facebook in 2018: “SirTLab’s research team is led by Prof. Haim Cohen, a worldwide leading scientist in the field of aging research and SIRT6 biology.” Cohen also holds with SirTLab a joint patent on compounds which they think modulate SIRT6, which suggests he is actually one of the founders of this business.
SirTLab’s self-declared business model is to bamboozle a pharma giant to buy it for huge money, then to disband and bury it after incurring yet another huge loss trying to develop drugs which prove useless garbage, while the former owners become multimillionaires many times over. As it happened with Sinclair’s own company SIRTIS, sold to GlaxoSmithKline for $740 million, whcih they cite as their role model.
The blind can see
Not in the Holy Land, but another miracle: a blind man can see. Professor Botand Roska of the University of Basel used genes from algae to make a blind (or at least vision-impaired) man see again! Salon writes:
“As detailed in a recent study published by Roska, Sahel and a team of researchers in the scientific journal Nature Medicine, the team was able to partially restore a blind 58-year-old man’s vision using their gene therapy approach. The patient suffers from retinitis pigmentosa, a vision disease caused by genetic mutations which damages light-sensitive cells in the retina at the back of the eye. Some victims become totally blind, while others only have their vision partially altered. One out of 4,000 people worldwide have retinitis pigmentosa.
In their experiment, Roska and his colleagues engineered a light-sensitive protein called ChrimsonR, which is found in unicellular algae, and then inserted them into modified viruses that were injected into one of his eyes. With the viral vectors hopefully positioned to make the cells in the patient’s retinas sensitive to yellow-orange light, the patient began to wear special goggles that projected an intense amber image onto his retina. […]
The experiment appears to have worked. After months of building up ChrimsonR in his retinas, the patient described marked improvements in his vision. He was able to more effectively count, distinguish between objects and physically manipulate his environment through his sense of vision.”
This is the paper:
José-Alain Sahel, Elise Boulanger-Scemama, Chloé Pagot, Angelo Arleo, Francesco Galluppi, Joseph N. Martel, Simona Degli Esposti, Alexandre Delaux, Jean-Baptiste De Saint Aubert, Caroline De Montleau, Emmanuel Gutman, Isabelle Audo, Jens Duebel, Serge Picaud, Deniz Dalkara, Laure Blouin, Magali Taiel, Botond Roska Partial recovery of visual function in a blind patient after optogenetic therapy Nature Medicine (2021) doi: 10.1038/s41591-021-01351-4
The text doesn’t mention anything about any preclinical tests, maybe the authors forgot to publish these. Surely they didn’t start a clinical trial without? We also learn exactly nothing about the efficiency of transfection in cells in vitro, not information on protein stability over time; or how for long the gene expression is maintained, not even any toxicity… Surely the authors did all those simple in vitro experiments before progressing to humans? Right? Maybe it will be in their next Nature Medicine paper?
There were actually not one, but 15 patients treated in US, France and UK in the phase 1/2 dose-escalation single-arm open-label trial NCT03326336 in total (out of initially scheduled 18), but:
“Because of COVID-19, only one patient from the first cohort, the patient described in this article, could perform sustained (n = 15) postinjection training sessions. So far, the pandemic has prevented any functional assessment of the combined therapy in the other treated patients. Genotypic studies were performed in all patients of the study.”
Basically, how do the authors know it was not a placebo effect? And why not waiting to analyse other trial participants first, simply to disprove envious bad-wishers who might claim the scholars were biased and cherry-picked the only patient form the cohort of 15 where a placebo effect took place? But who are we to argue with Nature Medicine, impact factor 36!
The trial’s sponsor was the company Gensight Biologics, founded by the paper’s first author José-Alain Sahel, ophthalmology professor at the University of Pittsburgh, USA. He and other authors declared further financial interests in other vision therapy start-ups. Several co-authors either are employed by Gensight or consult for it. Roska declares to be “Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board of GenSight Biologics“.
Israeli Scientists Joke 3
Over a year ago, we had some Israeli scientists announcing to cure COVID-19 with stem cells. They even claimed to have saved dying patients! Nobody speaks of that miracle anymore, so now we have another set of Israeli scientists, with yet another set of dying COVID-19 patients who survived thanks to yet another patented stem cell technology.
Behold, same Jerusalem Post again, same churnalist again:
“An Israeli biotechnology company has claimed a 100% success rate in the first 10 patients treated with its drug as part of an early-stage clinical trial at Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa.The company, Bonus BioGroup, presented the preliminary findings of its Phase I/II trial to peers at the International Society for Cell & Gene Therapy conference in New Orleans last week and shared the results in a statement released to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. [….]
Bonus’s MesenCure, which consists of activated Mesenchymal Stromal Cells (MSCs) that are isolated from the adipose tissue of healthy donors, was found to reduce inflammation and alleviate respiratory and other symptoms in patients suffering from life-threatening respiratory distress brought on by COVID-19.”
There is no peer reviewed paper. There is no preprint. In fact, the company Bonus BioGroup doesn’t even have a “publications” section on its website. Because there are no publications. There is just one conference abstract, and that’s it. But who cares, the news even made Chinese state media.
The clinical trial NCT04716998 in Haifa aims to recruit 35 patients. But there is no control arm. None at all. Since they only recruit patients who can sign an informed consent, intubated (and thus sedated) COVID-19 patients are excluded by default. Expect a 100% survival rate.
Lab Leak Theory
As you may have noticed, the theory of SARS-CoV2 escape from the Wuhan Institute of Virology is becoming mainstream with scientists. Now even NIH director Francis Collins, in Atlantic:
““Far and away, the most likely origin is a natural zoonotic pathway from bats to some unidentified intermediate host to humans,” he told me. “But the possibility that such a naturally evolved virus might have also been under study at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and reached residents of Wuhan—and ultimately the rest of the world—as the result of a lab accident has never been adequately excluded.”
That possibility, Collins believes, calls for a closer look. “A thorough, expert-driven, and objective investigation, with full access to all information about events in Wuhan in the fall of 2019, is needed,” he said. “That should have happened right away, but did not.””
Strange, a year ago Collins dismissed the lab leak theory of COVID-19 as “conspiracy”, in emails obtained by Buzzfeed:
“One such email sent to Fauci on April 16, 2020 by Francis Collins, the director of the National Institute of Health, under the subject line “conspiracy gains momentum” contained a link to a news story highlighting a Fox News report that said the allegation had merit. Fauci’s response to Collins is entirely blacked out.”
The same email stash revealed that the virology professor Kristian Andersen, one of the fiercest public attackers on lab leak theory and its proponents, has always very strategically positioned his bum on all seats. He even discussed with Fauci if SARS-CoV2 was “engineered“:
This is very typical in academia. Always be prepared to switch sides. First you fight those theories you disapprove of for reasons personal, financial and political, then, when the undesired theory grows supported by evidence and becomes too strong to dismiss, you jump on it and make it your own. Important is to destroy those who found it first. In the end, everyone will think you made the original discovery.
So here is a good take by Newsweek about the people who really provided the evidence for lab leak theory, while being publicly denounced by esteemed academics as conspiracy theorists, science-denialists, Trumpsters, anti-Chinese racists, and worse.
“They call themselves DRASTIC, for Decentralized Radical Autonomous Search Team Investigating COVID-19. […] Thanks to DRASTIC, we now know that the Wuhan Institute of Virology had an extensive collection of coronaviruses gathered over many years of foraging in the bat caves, and that many of them—including the closest known relative to the pandemic virus, SARS-CoV-2—came from a mineshaft where three men died from a suspected SARS-like disease in 2012. We know that the WIV was actively working with these viruses, using inadequate safety protocols, in ways that could have triggered the pandemic, and that the lab and Chinese authorities have gone to great lengths to conceal these activities. We know that the first cases appeared weeks before the outbreak at the Huanan wet market that was once thought to be ground zero.”
Here another good take by Vanity Fair (don’t laugh, they were the first to expose Paolo Macchiarini and the chloroquine scam by Vovka Zelenko and the Trump government). And now Vanity Fair uncovered:
“A months long Vanity Fair investigation, interviews with more than 40 people, and a review of hundreds of pages of U.S. government documents, including internal memos, meeting minutes, and email correspondence, found that conflicts of interest, stemming in part from large government grants supporting controversial virology research, hampered the U.S. investigation into COVID-19’s origin at every step. In one State Department meeting, officials seeking to demand transparency from the Chinese government say they were explicitly told by colleagues not to explore the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s gain-of-function research, because it would bring unwelcome attention to U.S. government funding of it.”
DRASTIC are the anonymous “The Seeker” and “Billy Bostickson“, Rossana Segreto, Yuri Deigin, Francisco de Asis de Ribera, Mona Rahalkar, Gilles Demaneuf, Rodolphe de Maistre and, loosely connected, Alina Chan. More information about recent DRASTIC research on Sylvie Coyaud‘s Ocasapiens.
But until very recently, professional science journalists preferred to make you listen exclusively to the bullshit by Peter Daszak, whom WHO and The Lancet appointed to investigate COVID-19 origins despite his conflict of interest the size of a planet.
News in Brief
- The Nobel Prize committee wants you to be like Louis Ignarro. Go ahead then, build your sand castles, publish fake research and shill for supplement and juice companies!
- JAMA Editor-in-Chief Howard Bauchner resigned because his journal behaved racist while pretending to be anti-racist. Bauchner was already on administrative leave since March (New York Times).
- Mouthwash with etheric oils won’t prevent or cure COVID-19, who knew. The authors of the popular study by University of Bielefeld (Schürmann et al 2021, “We recommend the application of mouth wash solutions to COVID-19 patients […] Further improvement to the over the counter formulation can be made by utilizing zinc and dexpanthenol“) and even the manufacturer Dr. August Wolff GmbH (also in Bielefeld) decry bad journalists misinterpreting their own bunk. But the former head of Germany’s Permanent Vaccination Commission (STIKO) Klaus-Dieter Zastrow says we all should use mouth wash every third day instead of lockdowns to crush COVID-19. (Tagesschau, Quarks, in German)
- Learned scholars at Georgia Institute of Technology Jason Tsukahara, Alexander Burgoyne and Randall Engle educate us in Scientific American that “Pupil Size Is a Marker of Intelligence“. They also published this drivel in a peer-reviewed journal called Cognition, so science has spoken, you narrow-pupilled failed scientists.
- Swedish magazine Filter writes about Ashutosh Tiwari‘s predatory conference business in the tiny village of Ulrika. Unfortunately paywalled, we learn that Tiwari denies all charges of fraud, is very angry at me for inventing the word “scamference” to describe his business, and that his scamference partner Mikael Syväjarvi left the Linköping University to work with Tiwari full-time.
- Sylvie Coyaud blogs about Qi Gong master Xin Yan who can kill cancer cells telepathically and who now deployed lawyers to threaten Elisabeth Bik. We learn that this Qi Gong psy magic is related to CIA’s and Pentagon’s “Stargate Project”, featuring the Men Who Stare at Goats (Ocasapiens).
- Elisabeth Bik was also reported by chloroquine quacks Didier Raoult and Eric Chabriere to the French prosecutor on fake charges of harassment and extortion. Bik now blogs: “In this blog post I have compiled the papers by the Raoult and Chabriere that have image concerns.“
We conclude with a video of a dirty old man who claims an IQ of 180, and whose hobbies include research fraud, illegal human experiments, medical quackery, covidiocy and antivaxxery, and especially bullying women. If you speak French, you can read the book: “Raoult. Une folie française“, by Ariane Chemin and Marie-France Etchegoin.
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