Schneider Shorts

Schneider Shorts 10.09.2021 – Greed is Good

Schneider Shorts 10.09.2021: featuring Progressive Eugenics, lactoferrin back as COVID-19 miracle cure, proxalutamide banned, with a secret game-changer from Texas and a not-so-secret-anymore drug from France, does one really need ethics approvals to torture small animals, and why stealthily taking industry bribes is not research misconduct.

Schneider Shorts of 10 September 2021: featuring Progressive Eugenics, lactoferrin back as COVID-19 miracle cure, proxalutamide banned, with a secret game-changer from Texas and a not-so-secret-anymore drug from France, does one really need ethics approvals to torture small animals, and why stealthily taking industry bribes is not research misconduct.

Table of Discontent


Watchdogs watchdogging

Eugenics 4Ever!

News in Tweets

News in Brief (Environment)


Proxalutamide banned

The Brazilian regulatory authority Anvisa suspended the import and use of the male baldness drug Proxalutamide, which is sold by a Chinese company and which was repurposed by Brazilian “researchers” as a COVID-19 miracle cure. The reason: the team around Flavio Cadegiani and Ricardo Zimerman is suspected of massive fraud and patient abuse.

Anvisa announced:

“This Thursday (2/9), the Collegiate Board of Anvisa decided, unanimously, to suspend, in a precautionary manner, the importation and use of products containing the substance proxalutamide, within the scope of scientific research in Brazil.

The decision was motivated by the steps taken by the Attorney General’s Office in Rio Grande do Sul and in view of the dissemination of news about the conduct of researches with the use of proxalutamide in human beings, which show that hospitals and clinics would be using the product based on proxalutamide in the absence of scientific studies approved by the Research Ethics Committee/National Research Ethics Commission (CEP/Conep) system.

There will also be an investigation of what Cadegiani, Zimmerman et al had been doing with the drug so far, all doctors and patients are to be warned of potential dangers. All use of proxalutamide except for clinical studies approved by Anvisa (if there are any) is now banned:

“In view of the facts, the Agency’s Collegiate Board, adopting the precautionary principle, decided to suspend, in a precautionary manner, the import and use of products containing the substance proxalutamide in the context of scientific research in Brazil, in addition to other appropriate sanitary measures, in the regulatory and sanctioning scope, until additional and conclusive data regarding the regularity of imports are obtained.”

Dang, even that “rigorously peer-reviewed” clinical study (McCoy et al 2021) in world’s bestest Frontiers journal didn’t help…

(Hattip Jose Galucci-Neto)

A Secret Game-Changer from Texas

A press release of Texas A&M University from 25 August 2021:

“A drug created by a Texas A&M University professor could be the most effective treatment yet of patients with COVID-19, including the aggressive variants of the virus such as Delta and others.

The drug compound, called MPI8, has stopped the replication of the virus in laboratory tests. It was created by a Texas A&M research team led by biological chemist Wenshe Ray Liu, a 2018 Texas A&M Presidential Impact Fellow and holder of the Gradipore Chair in the Department of Chemistry.

The potential effectiveness of MPI8 led Sorrento Therapeutics of San Diego, Calif., to seek exclusive intellectual property rights to the ingredient. An agreement between the company and The Texas A&M University System was announced Tuesday.

Liu said that Sorrento hopes to complete pre-clinical studies of MPI8 by the end of the year and seek FDA approval to begin clinical trials on humans in early 2022.

MPI8 could be the best weapon yet in the fight against the COVID-19 virus, Liu said.

“If it can be approved clinically, this will be a game changer,” he said.”

The discovery is not published as a research paper or preprint, and it is a secret what MPI8 is. Even lab data isn’t there yet, just promised by the end of the year. But the drug has been already monetized.

A Not-So-Secret-Anymore Game-Changer from France

The Institut Pasteur Lille in France once did something similar and it earned them €5 Million from world’s richest man, Bernard Arnoult.

Back then, it was leaked that the miracle drug was clofoctol, a rectally-applied antibiotic. Now, a clinical trial with up to 500 unvaccinated COVID-19 patients has been announced:

” More than a year after having identified a promising drug (clofoctol) against Covid-19, the Institut Pasteur de Lille announced on Monday that it had recruited the first patient in its phase 2/3 clinical trial. This phase aims to “measure the effectiveness of clofoctol in the early management of Covid patients and the prevention of hospitalization,” said Pasteur, in a press release.[…]
The clinical trial was delayed at the start of the year to measure side effects that are already known. Since April, it has finally been able to be set up. It is performed on an outpatient basis by around 40 general practitioners in Hauts-de-France. The molecule should be administered as a suppository, two per day for five days.
People involved in this trial must be over 50 years of age, not yet vaccinated, and have at least one symptom ofCovid-19. The Institute wishes to recruit “between 350 and 700 patients” through general practitioners and laboratories.”

Lactoferrin W0RKS!

Now we can all choke on our jokes about lactoferrin, because science has spoken. The Italian miracle cure for COVId-19, sold as supplements, was vindicated in a PNAS study:

Carmen Mirabelli, Jesse W. Wotring, Charles J. Zhang, Sean M. McCarty, Reid Fursmidt, Carla D. Pretto, Yuanyuan Qiao, Yuping Zhang, Tristan Frum, Namrata S. Kadambi, Anya T. Amin, Teresa R. O’Meara, Jason R. Spence, Jessie Huang, Konstantinos D. Alysandratos, Darrell N. Kotton, Samuel K. Handelman, Christiane E. Wobus, Kevin J. Weatherwax, George A. Mashour, Matthew J. O’Meara, Arul M. Chinnaiyan and Jonathan Z. Sexton Morphological cell profiling of SARS-CoV-2 infection identifies drug repurposing candidates for COVID-19 PNAS (2021) DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2105815118

The paper concludes that the relatively cheap supplement lactoferrin works just as well as the very expensive COVID-19 drug remdesivir (which was more recently to found to barely or not work at all, but never mind):

“Notably, we discovered that lactoferrin, a glycoprotein found in secretory fluids including mammalian milk, inhibits SARS-CoV-2 infection in the nanomolar range in all cell models with multiple modes of action, including blockage of virus attachment to cellular heparan sulfate and enhancement of interferon responses. Given its safety profile, lactoferrin is a readily translatable therapeutic option for the management of COVID-19.”

Lactoferrin is highly expressed not just in milk, but also in tears (2 mg/ml or 0.6 mM), saliva (8 µg/ml or 2.6 µM) or snot (1 µg/ml or 300nM, data for humans). Basically, the IC50 of 50 nM for lactoferrin against the coronavirus in vitro that Michigan study determined may sound like a breakthrough game-changer news in the fight against pandemic, but… It’s already many-thousands more concentrated in the fluids of mouth, nose and eyes already, and apparently still does little to prevent the SARS-CoV2 infection! And if you aim to increase lactoferrin further than that by taking commercial supplements of the iron-binding protein, COVID-19 will be the by far the smallest of your problems.

You may wonder how this masterpiece passed peer review at an elite journal? It didn’t. The paper was accepted via the notorious “contributed” track for National Academy of Sciences members:

Contributed by Arul M. Chinnaiyan, July 9, 2021 (sent for review March 25, 2021; reviewed by Matthew L. Albert and Sumit Chanda)“.

Never mind.

The University of Michigan press release quotes the lead author Jonathan Sexton:

“The team validated the 17 candidate compounds in several types of cells, including stem-cell derived human lung cells in an effort to mimic SARS-CoV2 infection of the respiratory tract. Nine showed anti-viral activity at reasonable doses, including lactoferrin, a protein found in human breastmilk that is also available over the counter as a dietary supplement derived from cow’s milk.

“We found lactoferrin had remarkable efficacy for preventing infection, working better than anything else we observed,” Sexton said. He adds that early data suggest this efficacy extends even to newer variants of SARS-CoV2, including the highly transmissible Delta variant.

The team is soon launching clinical trials of the compound to examine its ability to reduce viral loads and inflammation in patients with SARS-CoV2 infection.”

Watchdogs Watchdogging

Greed is Good

A Dutch star economist and Erasmus University Rotterdam professor and star Henk Volberda apparently took bribes from industry in order to influence governmental policies in the Netherlands. His student blew the whistle, the professor was mildly admonished for negligence and moved, as per academic tradition for toxic characters, away to another university. Follow the Money online magazine reports:

“Vatan Hüzeir, climate activist and PhD student in sociology at Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR), filed an integrity complaint on September 27, 2017 against Henk Volberda, professor of Strategy and Innovation at the same university. […]

Hüzeir’s main allegation concerned the research report ‘Mutual Benefit: the strategic value of the top 100 corporate headquarters for the Netherlands and of the Netherlands for this top 100  from 2009’ – herein after Mutual Benefit Report– of which Volberda was the responsible person.

On its cover only the employers’ organization VNO-NCW was mentioned as the client, but in reality Shell, Unilever, AkzoNobel, DSM and Philips were also the direct clients. [..] These five companies, united in the lobby club founded shortly after the Second World War ABDUP, also paid the bill for the investigation.”

Initially, the university reacted predictably, in the traditional way, by attacking the whistleblower and his report about the industry bribes Volberda and his Rotterdam School of Management (RSM) have been taking:

“The RSM was not happy with the criticism in the Changerism report and immediately proceeded to counter attack. In May 2017, Dean Steef van der Velde stated in a written statement reaction to the researchers: “The report is biased, biased, contains errors, and does not meet academic standards.

It was not just research money. Volberda has been on payroll of those same Dutch multinationals for decades, cashing in privately as “consultant”, aka shill:

“According to the Code of Conduct, Volberda should have carried out ‘contract research’ for Shell in the period 1998-2002 in the Mutual Benefit report as previous ‘consultancy or other connections’. However, Hüzeir was not aware when he submitted the complaint that Volberda, Van den Bosch and Baaij were also conducting research for Shell between 2006 and 2008. This only became apparent from the CWI’s own investigation. […] So in total Volberda received 120,000 euros on his private account for contract funding projects that he carried out in the years 2006-2009.”

In 2018, Volberda was found to be merely negligent by forgetting to mention the industry bribes he received.

“On 15 May 2018, the CWI established various violations of the Code of Conduct for Academic Practice: ‘failing to mention clients’, ‘discrepancy between the quality of the methodology followed and the data obtained, and the firmness of the conclusions’ and ‘insufficient accountability of the role their work could play in political decision-making’. However, the final verdict is ‘that there was no violation of scientific integrity, but that there was culpable negligence’.”

The professor announced to abandon the Erasmus University after 22 years and go to Amsterdam in 2019, which he now did. Conveniently, a second CWI investigation overruled on 15 April 2020 the findings of the previous one:

“good news for Volberda: merely the omission that ‘the data was generated in commissioned research’ in the later scientific publications in LRP and SMR, is qualified as a ‘shortcoming’. Hüzeir’s complaint is declared unfounded on all other grounds.”

Soon after, the Dutch national research integrity commission LOWI ruled in agreement:

“On March 3, 2021 LOWI, this time chaired by Eric Daalder, again rules on the case. The verdict partly follows the verdict of the new CWI. It ruled that Volberda acted ‘carelessly’ by not stating in later publications in scientific management journals that part of the data came from the research commissioned by VNO-NCW. […] The LOWI’s final verdict is ultimately the same as that of the first CWI: no violation of scientific integrity, but of ‘culpably negligent conduct’, the second most serious qualification.”

Because there was no intent. Only students cheat with intent, never professors, as anyone who ever read any random research misconduct report will know. LOWI explained:

The LOWI considers it important that intent cannot be demonstrated. After all, it appears from the file that it was not clear from the outset to Volberda and his co-researchers that the research would be financed by Shell and other companies. […] Shell was not the client, but an external financier of the research“.

No appeal is possible. The new University of Amsterdam professor Volberda remains a national star, a fixed feature on Dutch television. His three con-conspirators kept their faculty jobs at Erasmus University. The newspaper has been forced to publish Volberda’s reply obviously to avoid a lawsuit, where he berates the journalists for quoting “the wrongful CWI procedure from 2017-2018 that was rejected” while not quoting enough from “new CWI and LOWI” reports.

(Hattip Klaas van Dijk)

Torturing small animals

It turns out, that at Wiley ethics approvals for animal research are recommended, but not really mandatory. If authors get caught on having lied about those, it’s enough if they retrospectively auto-certify themselves, by assuring to have adhered to all the rules anyway.

An Erratum was issued for this paper in June 2021:

Lei Zhang, Fei Li, Wang-Jun Qin, Chao Fu, Xiang-Lin Zhang Changes in intestinal microbiota affect metabolism of ginsenoside Re Biomedical Chromatography (2021)

“In Section 2.2. ‘Animal Experiments’ of their article, the authors noted that: “All the animal studies were conducted in accordance with protocols approved by the Animal Ethics Committee of China Japan Friendship Hospital” (Zhang et al., 2018). Following concerns raised to the journal by a reader regarding the study’s ethical approval process, the authors would like to inform readers that, due to a translation error and a misunderstanding of the process, prospective ethical approval for this study was mistakenly not sought. However, the protocols followed for this study in relation to the care and use of animals were undertaken in accordance with the animal care and use policies of the Animal Ethical and Welfare Committee (AEWC) of the Clinical Institute of China Japan Friendship Hospital.

The authors apologise for this error.”

Tulipa Fosteriana quoted on PubPeer what kind of experiments the authors did, which are apparently “Classification D or above for Animal Pain and Distress Levels”. Highlights theirs:

The OACS model was established by exposing the rats to continuous fatigue and acute cold stress. The specific steps were as follows: a weight(~5% of the body weight) was tied to the tail of each rat, and the rats were then put in a home made swimming pool. The rats swam twice daily at a 10 min interval for a total of 14 days. The water temperature was maintained at 25 ± 2°C on the first 13 days and at 0 ± 2°C on the last day.

Thing is, the authors didn’t make a mistake while abusing rats without an ethics approval. They intentionally lied to get the paper published in that Wiley journal. Its Editor-in-Chief and University of Georgia professor Michael Bartlett was informed by Tiger BB8 already in September 2020:

The first (Lei Zhang) and the corresponding (Xiang-Lin Zhang) authors are affiliated with China Japan Friendship Hospital in Beijing, China. In their paper, the authors stated that the animal protocol was approved by the IACUC of the hospital and they purchased their SD rats from Beijing University School of Medicine. However, based on the information I obtained from their colleagues (prefer to remain anonymous), the hospital recently received an allegation of misconduct and conducted an investigation on this paper. The hospital found that there was never such a protocol reviewed and approved by their IACUC and requested an explanation from the authors. The first author explained that the animal protocol was actually approved by the IACUC of University of Nebraska Medical Center (where the second author Fei Li and the 4th author Chao Fu were) and the experiment was performed there when he was a visiting scholar for a year. When questioned further, Zhang said that the experimental materials stated in his paper as purchased in China were indeed purchased in China and he brought them over to UNMC while visiting there.

However, that story really doesn’t sound plausible. Based on my investigation, there is not faculty at College of Pharmacy of UNMC with a name as Fei Li or Chao Fu. Actually, Chao Fu was a PharmD student there from 2014-2018 and is a practicing pharmacist in Washington. As we all know, no student can be the PI of an animal protocol, per IACUC policy.

So what with the corrigendum, it now seems to be official Wiley policy that ethics approvals for animal research are not long mandatory. The publisher’s executive editor Paul Trevorrow who approved that Erratum, promised to explain. Still waiting.

Cell Cycle of Papermill Fraud

Smut Clyde commented on a recent string of retractions and expressions of concern at the Taylor & Francis journal Cell Cycle (edited by Misha Blagosklonny):

In recent developments, the editors of Cell Cycle have stirred from their millennial slumber and issued some Expressions of Interest. In fact three teams of authors had requested Retractions, for reasons that are unconvincing but at least don’t admit making everything up. These three were for papers from the “Directly Targetting” mill.

“Since publication, the authors informed us that ethical approval for the tumor xenograft experiments in mice reported in this article, had not been obtained from their institutional ethics committee. As this is a breach of research ethics requirements, the authors, Editor and Publisher have all agreed to retract the article to ensure the integrity of the scholarly record.”

“Since publication, the authors informed us that ethical approval for the tumor xenograft experiments in mice reported in this article, had not been obtained from their institutional ethics committee. As this is a breach of research ethics requirements, the authors, Editor and Publisher have all agreed to retract the article to ensure the integrity of the scholarly record.”

“Since publication, the authors have informed us they have not been able to replicate their results presented in this article. As this casts doubt over the results and conclusions, the authors alerted the issue to the Editor and Publisher and all have agreed to retract the article to ensure the integrity of the scholarly record.”

In the case of another Directly Targeting paper, the authors didn’t offer / accept a face-saving excuse for retraction, and we read that “After publication of this article, questions about the scientific integrity of the article content were brought to the Publisher and Editor’s attention. We have reached out to the authors requesting that they supply information that would confirm the article’s integrity, but the authors have not responded to our queries within the requested timeframe.”

Two other papers from the Tadpole Papermill attracted similar Expressions of Concern. After the retraction of Tadpole products from so many other journals, it is hard to imagine why Cell Cycle would expect confirmatory responses from the authors, but there you go.

Another two Expressions of Concern in this tranche (all from 1 September 2021) weren’t from an identified mill. Finally, another paper was retracted for being plagiarised.

Eugenics 4EVER!

Match Relationships

Why are kids who love books rarely friends with kids who rather play football? Why do rich people only interact socially with other rich people? Why do white people rarely befriend people of colour? It’s genetics!

The gene variants decisive for friendship preferences is the phosphodiesterase PDE11A, according to this study:

Abigail J. Smith, Reagan Farmer, Katy Pilarzyk, Latarsha Porcher & Michy P. Kelly A genetic basis for friendship? Homophily for membrane-associated PDE11A-cAMP-CREB signaling in CA1 of hippocampus dictates mutual social preference in male and female mice, Molecular Psychiatry (2021). DOI: 10.1038/s41380-021-01237-4

The authors inform:

“Our study here not only identifies PDE11A homophily as a key driver of mutual social preference across the lifespan, it offers a paradigm in which other mechanisms can be identified in a controlled fashion.”

The mouse study was published in Molecular Psychiatry, a Springer Nature journal, which specialises on psycho-babble from academic psychologists (preferably from USA). Basically, like Frontiers, but fancier, more exclusive and with a bigger impact factor.

The University of Maryland press release quotes the lead author, associate professor Michy Kelly:

“We imagine that this is only the first among many biomarkers of compatibility in the brain that may control social preferences,” said Dr. Kelly. “Imagine the possibilities of truly understanding the factors behind human compatibility. You could better match relationships to reduce heartache and divorce rates, or better match patients and doctors to advance the quality of healthcare, as studies have shown compatibility can improve health outcomes.”

Who doesn’t love eugenics?

Genetics Matters!

In this regard, The New Yorker has a long read about the University of Texas Austin psychology professor Kathryn Paige Harden, author of the book “The Genetic Lottery: Why DNA Matters for Social Equality”. The story is titled:

Can Progressives Be Convinced That Genetics Matters?

“The behavior geneticist Kathryn Paige Harden is waging a two-front campaign: on her left are those who assume that genes are irrelevant, on her right those who insist that they’re everything.”

Harden is indeed uncomfortably stuck between the few “liberals” like Harden’s PhD mentor Eric Turkheimer who say human genetics is too complex to have any deterministic meaning for intelligence or social achievements, and the far-right hardcore eugenicists, racists and social Darwinists who worship Charles Murray‘s Bell Curve as their Bible. The long article is all about Harden allegedly being attacked from all sides, it interviews also the chief eugenicist Robert Plomin, while showing Harden’s critic William Darity as a censorious bully. For some reason, the late Neonazi-associated racist Arthur Jensen is introduced as “a respected psychologist“.

Indeed it is not clear what Harden wants. She claims to mean well, but it does sound that she insists the US poor (many of whom just happen to be Black) are indeed genetically inferior, on average. That’s there is no point wasting money and resources on educating all children of poor people, instead one should genetically test them to pick out those with better genes and to educate those. After all, you can’t argue with science: not just IQ, educational and financial attainment, even propensity for divorce is coded in your genes!

Unlike the New Yorker article suggests, Harden is not being de-platformed, attacked or silenced. Her book is a bestseller. She is not even controversial in academia, quite the opposite. Academics love eugenics, after all their own children are destined to be professors as well because genetics, while their own parents are often professors or other social elites. Intelligence is always measured by education attainment, with PhD carriers on top and professors being the apex of IQ evolution. Eugenics is an inherent part of the Ivory Tower ideology. Some academics still dabble in discrete racism and misogyny. The “liberal” professors like Harden, Plomin or his mentee Stuart Ritchie are perfectly positioned with their “progressive” eugenics views in such environment, and enjoy stellar careers with very little opposition.

News in Tweets

  • Lab Leak Theory: who would have expected they were mass-sampling bats for coronavirus research in humanised mice in unsafe BSL-3 labs in Wuhan? Original documents revealed by The Intercept.
  • In a recent Israeli Scientists Joke, ivermectin was proven to be the COVID-19 miracle cure in a clinical trial (Biber et al medXiv 2021), but then debunked in Newsweek.

  • Sci-Hub uploaded all the new Elsevier papers they kept back due to lawsuit in India
  • Elsevier Research Ethics (TM)
  • After Vedic aviation and Vedic space travel: Vedic microbiology!
  • Journalists of The Print ripped off an article on my site to land a scoop, without any acknowledgement. Now they are being sued for slander by the Hindu Nationalist Gobardhan Das, and probably wish they referenced me as original source.

News in Brief (Environment)

  • Czech scientists filmed pigs freeing mates from a trap: “We documented a case in which an adult female wild boar manipulated wooden logs securing the door mechanism of a cage trap and released two entrapped young wild boars. The whole rescue was fast and particular behaviours were complex and precisely targeted, suggesting profound prosocial tendencies and exceptional problem-solving capacities in wild boar. The rescue behaviour might have been motivated by empathy because the rescuer female exhibited piloerection, a sign of distress, indicating an empathetic emotional state matching or understanding the victims.” (Masilkova et al 2021)
  • Green-washing by randomly planting trees? “The Pakistani government’s plan to plant 10 billion trees has garnered national and international praise. But critics believe that it is an unsustainable and expensive waste of resources“. (Deutsche Welle)
  • Leaded gasoline is finally banned worldwide by UNO, but tetra-ethyl-lead residues in the cities’ soils will continue to poison children. And it’s not like the danger of lead pollution were known only since recently: “One of the earliest and most adamant critics of leaded gasoline in the 1920s was Yandell Henderson, a Yale University physiology professor who warned the U.S. government that lead exhaust from cars would cause widespread chronic lead poisoning in urban centers.” (Salon)

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4 comments on “Schneider Shorts 10.09.2021 – Greed is Good

  1. Klaas van Dijk

    See for another case at Erasmus University / Erasmus MC.


  2. Pingback: Quanto costa opprimerci – ocasapiens

  3. Bernard Arnault (not Arnoult)


  4. But of course our caviar communists of Guardian play science groupies to eugenicists once again. Before they taught us to worship the eugenics czar Robert Plomin (here and here), now Prof Harden’s new book is the Progressive Eugenics Manifesto.
    “The behaviour geneticist explains how biology could have an influence on academic attainment – and why she takes an anti-eugenics approach
    Kathryn Paige Harden argues how far we go in formal education – and the huge knock-on effects that has on our income, employment and health – is in part down to our genes.”

    No, this is of course all very much anti-eugenics, as Dr Harden proposes:
    “Consider, for example, policies to close the famed “word gap”, which is the estimated 30-million word difference in what poor children versus children from high income families hear before they turn three. The jury is still out on whether “word gap” interventions will be effective, but one glaring problem is the same vocabulary outcomes that are allegedly the outcomes of being exposed to more speech could also be the result of genetics. Parents and children share genes and the same genes that are associated with adults’ educational attainment and income are also associated with early acquisition of speech and reading in their children. Before we spend millions on interventions designed to change a parental behaviour in the hopes of improving child outcomes, it would be prudent to at least check this effect out.”


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