Schneider Shorts of 15 October 2021 – Claudio Hetz tries to close a chapter, fake blot artistry from Sicily and from America, a German society’s ombudsperson resigns, a paper which should be put out of its misery, Gerry Melino trolling again, more retractions for Fatih Sen, how Elsevier business model works, and can Lavrov please stop lying for a change?
Table of Discontent
- Leibniz investigates: Ombudsperson resigns to open way to a misconduct investigation
- Sicilian Art: artist collective discovered in Palermo!
- Best Moustache Ever! Are Don Rockey’s fake papers “too old”?
- More Hetz: just when the Chilean star was closing that chapter…
- Defiant Selivanova: please put this paper out of its misery!
- Gain-of-Function Research: a success story, but not as intended
- Stolen Sputnik V? Russophobia everywhere, or did Russian spies really steal AstraZeneca’s recipe?
- Safety First: How Russia deals with dissents under the pretence of public health
- Trust Russian tests only: everything is rotten in the west, except MDPI
News in Tweets
Faced with data irregularities in her own papers with her PhD student Xiaoling Liu, the director of the Leibniz Institute for Polymer Research in Dresden, Germany, Brigitte Voit informed me:
“There is no reason for an investigation into scientific misconduct and therefore it will not take place.“
Thing is, Voit is also Leibniz Association Central Ombudperson, in charge of investigating exactly such allegations.
After one retraction in Angewandte Chemie, more evidence on PubPeer and in my comment section, including concerns about yet another paper in same journal:
Xiaoling Liu, Petr Formanek, Brigitte Voit, Dietmar Appelhans Functional Cellular Mimics for the Spatiotemporal Control of Multiple Enzymatic Cascade Reactions Angewandte Chemie (2017) doi: 10.1002/ange.201708826
Then this statement just arrived from the head of the Department Integrity at the Leibniz Association (highlight mine):
“Dear Mr. Schneider,
The Leibniz Ombudsman Committee received via the Scientific Director of the IPF Dresden your allegations against various publications with the participation of Leibniz scientists, as well as the additional information you supplied directly. We will investigate this named notification of scientific misconduct in accordance with the applicable rules of the Leibniz Association. I would also like to inform you that Prof. Voit has relinquished her position on the Leibniz Ombuds Committee until further notice.“
One should be able to recognise early on when one is hopelessly biased.
Science is a village, you meet old friends on every corner, sometimes on unexpected corners.
Remember Professor Jean Bousquet from Montpellier, France, who discovered sauerkraut as the therapy against the coronavirus? Who also cured himself and his family from COVID-19 with broccoli capsules, and published it as a clinical trial?
Well, what a surprise to see Prof Bousquet as co-author on an utterly fake paper from a team of Photoshop artists in Sicily!
M. Profita, R. Di Giorgi, A. Sala, A. Bonanno, L. Riccobono , F. Mirabella , M. Gjomarkaj , G. Bonsignore , J. Bousquet , A. M. Vignola Muscarinic receptors, leukotriene B4 production and neutrophilic inflammation in COPD patients Allergy (2005) doi: 10.1111/j.1398-9995.2005.00892.x
CNR Palermo researchers Mirella Profita, Mark Gjomarkaj (retired) et al are artists indeed:
Best Moustache Ever
I don’t know what attracted Elisabeth Bik to the papers of Don C Rockey, professor at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in USA. Maybe his splendid moustache, which is both ravishingly sexy and authoritatively awe-inspiring (to yours truly, at least).
In any case, Elisabeth found even more beauty behind the moustache. Current count of 15 papers on PubPeer, for example:
Rong Shao , Zengdun Shi , Philip J. Gotwals , Victor E. Koteliansky, Jacob George , Don C. Rockey Cell and molecular regulation of endothelin-1 production during hepatic wound healing Molecular Biology of the Cell (2003) doi: 10.1091/mbc.02-06-0093
Or this one:
Songling Liu, Richard T. Premont, Christopher D. Kontos, Jianhua Huang , Don C. Rockey Endothelin-1 activates endothelial cell nitric-oxide synthase via heterotrimeric G-protein betagamma subunit signaling to protein jinase B/Akt Journal of Biological Chemistry (2003) doi: 10.1074/jbc.m306930200
Good news for Dr Rockey is that Isabel Casas, the new Director of Publications at the society ASBMB, which issues the journal JBC, recently announced regarding such papers:
Is this one “too old”, too?
Songling Liu, Richard T. Premont, Don C. Rockey G-protein-coupled receptor kinase interactor-1 (GIT1) is a new endothelial nitric-oxide synthase (eNOS) interactor with functional effects on vascular homeostasis Journal of Biological Chemistry (2012) doi: 10.1074/jbc.m111.320465
Also too old, Dr Casas? What about this one at least?
Songling Liu, Richard T. Premont , Don C. Rockey Endothelial nitric-oxide synthase (eNOS) is activated through G-protein-coupled receptor kinase-interacting protein 1 (GIT1) tyrosine phosphorylation and Src protein Journal of Biological Chemistry (2014) doi: 10.1074/jbc.m113.521203
Now I hope that at least Dr Rockey’s moustache was not Photoshopped. My heart goes all rockey from this thought.
Nature writes about the Claudio Hetz affair, for some reason they mention me even, what is it with Nature, are they unwell or something…
Anyhow, at the end the Chilean star neuroscientist Hetz is quoted:
“For now, Hetz says he’s ready to move on. “I’m really tired,” he says. “I consider this a closed chapter; now comes a process of learning and improvement.”
Not so fast. Elisabeth Bik had a look also.
Maritza Oñate , Alejandra Catenaccio , Gabriela Martínez , Donna Armentano , Geoffrey Parsons , Bredford Kerr , Claudio Hetz , Felipe A. Court Activation of the unfolded protein response promotes axonal regeneration after peripheral nerve injury Scientific Reports (2016) doi: 10.1038/srep21709
Hetz immediately replied:
“We are going to look at this problem, identify source data and contact the editorial as soon as possible. Thank you very much.“
He can also look at this problem:
L F Barros, A Stutzin , A Calixto , M Catalán , J Castro , C Hetz, T Hermosilla Nonselective cation channels as effectors of free radical–induced rat liver cell necrosis Hepatology (2001) doi: 10.1053/jhep.2001.20530
Those neuronal current traces are strangely identical. But because the paper is old, raw data is unlikely to be available, which means this cannot be investigated. Nice.
There is very fake paper which apparently cannot be retracted. First, once co-author, the star of British biomedicine Stephen P. Jackson, already had two high profile retractions because of a rogue postdoc, Abderrahmane Kaidi.
And now another one of Jackson’s former postdocs, Abdeladim Moumen, was caught with forged data in his papers, from Jackson lab and elsewhere. So this is the first reason this paper cannot be retracted:
Martin Enge, Wenjie Bao, Elisabeth Hedström, Stephen P. Jackson, Abdeladim Moumen, Galina Selivanova MDM2-dependent downregulation of p21 and hnRNP K provides a switch between apoptosis and growth arrest induced by pharmacologically activated p53 Cancer Cell (2009) doi: 10.1016/j.ccr.2009.01.019
The second reason is that the last author of that Cancer Cell paper is Galina Selivanova, a Russian-born professor at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, who was in 2016 subject to a misconduct investigation, which ended with full acquittal for all 9 Karolinska professors involved.
Selivanova has around a dozen papers flagged on PubPeer, four received Errata declaring that these “do not change the validity of the data nor the conclusions from the experiments“. Also the Cancer Cell 2009 collaboration was corrected right when it was first published, because “In the right panel of Figure 6A of this article, the splicing from non-neighboring lanes was not indicated“.
But now the central Swedish authority, the National Board for Assessment of Research Misconduct (NPOF), investigates Selivanova again. So she went to PubPeer to save the paper and Moumen’s retched Figure 4D:
” We decided to perform a new experiment for the Figure 4D in my lab in Stockholm (the previous experiment has been performed in S Jackson’s lab in Cambridge). We performed Nutlin treatment of HCT116 cells with MDM2 depleted or not by two different siRNAs and performed immunoblotting for p53 and p21. Please see below the new western blot clearly showing that p21 is induced upon Nutlin treatment with or without MDM2 knockdown.”
The three panels definitely don’t look like they are from the same gel, for each lane, the band shapes and width do not match. Which raises concerns about Selivanova’s ethics and competence as scientist. So she posted photographs of whole gels to disprove her critics.
The third reason why this fraudulent paper will not be put out of its misery, is Cell Press. Unless NPOF and Karolinska find a way to make Selivanova ask for retraction, nothing at all will happen. This is Elsevier’s and Cell’s business model.
An opinion piece in The Daily Mail by the virologist Simon Wain-Hobson, Emeritus Professor at the Pasteur Institute, Paris. He was one of the central HIV discoverers, and also one of those who exposed Robert Gallo‘s fraud and theft.
Now Wain-Hobson takes apart the gain-of-function research, where deadly viruses are created in the lab, basically because a) the modern technology allows it, and b) one can angle gigantic grants with it by promising vaccine breakthroughs which never arrive.
“It’s a great story that fooled some leading agencies that fund biomedical research. But it’s a pipe dream for a host of reasons involving arcane aspects of virology. Predicting the next pandemic virus or strain is Mission Impossible.
Our track record in pandemic prediction is zero. Nobody predicted Covid-19. Nobody predicted the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic. Back then, the smart money was on a chicken virus from South-East Asia. Instead, it emerged from swine in North-West Mexico.
There are no practical benefits from Gain of Function research. Meanwhile, the risk of a lab accident or leak is very small but, as we know from history, not zero and comes with incalculable consequences. “
“Two weeks ago, a determined group of data analysts, researchers and online detectives going by the colourful name of Drastic, dug up a 2018 proposal by EcoHealth Alliance, a New York-based organisation, to perform Gain of Function research on bat coronaviruses by cutting and pasting different genome parts. All hell broke loose. […]
I’m terrified by the idea this pandemic could have started in a lab. Now throw into the mix clear evidence – much of it exposed by this newspaper – of conflicts of interest, obfuscation and covert lobbying on behalf of some of these scientists and their supporters and you have a corrosive brew.
We have witnessed shameful denigration of any voice contemplating a lab leak of any sort, a disgrace that has no part in scientific debate. Yet no apologies have been heard.
Given the huge dangers inherent in Gain of Function virology, we need a worldwide ban on conducting and funding Gain of Function research until international and legally binding standards are set.”
Yes, it is the right-wing Daily Mail. But the problem is: The Guardian prefers to publish instead opinion pieces by Peter Daszak, the head of EcoHealth Alliance and WHO-China investigator of COVID-19 origins. I personally am saddened that it is always the right-wing newspapers which publish the work by DRASTIC, Alina Chan and other proponents of the lab leak theory, while the left-wing newspapers all over the world still either deny it outright or treat it as a scurrilous curiosity. Because criticising individual scientists is apparently anti-science fascism, you see. Not just with the lab leak theory.
Stolen Sputnik V?
The Sun reports:
“RUSSIA stole the formula for the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab and used it to help create its own vaccine, ministers have been told. Security services say they have proof one of Vladimir Putin’s spies swiped the vital data.
They say they have proof that vital data was pinched from the drugs firm — including the blueprint for the Covid jab. Russia’s Sputnik jab uses similar technology to the Oxford designed vaccine. Security teams are now sure it was copied. It is understood the data was stolen by a foreign agent in person.
Last year spies pointed the finger at President Vladimir Putin. They said they were “more than 95 per cent” sure Russian state-sponsored hackers had targeted UK, US and Canadian bodies developing a Covid vaccine. […]
Andrew Leach, of London PR firm Hudson Sandler, today issued a statement on behalf of the Russian Direct Investment Fund which was established by the Russian state government. He said: “U.K. media reports that Russia’s Sputnik V was allegedly based on research from the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is another fake news and blatant lie based on anonymous sources.”
Yes, I know it’s The Sun, another right-wing trash newspaper, but the fact that British secret agents made this claim is factual, regardless if their findings are themselves true or not.
And as for Russia’s response: The lady doth protest too much, methinks. Sergey Lavrov, cosplaying as Russian Foreign Minister (while serving full-time as lapdog of the oligarch billionaire Oleg Deripaska), said according to Al Jazeera:
“Speaking at a news conference in the Kazakh capital Nur-Sultan on Tuesday, Lavrov said, “As for our British and other Western partners, I don’t think someone will take these unfounded statements seriously. “There have already been many baseless accusations,” he said.
While there have been reports of rare side-effects with AstraZeneca’s shots, with a tiny minority of people experiencing blood-clotting after receiving the jab, “no such cases have occurred with Sputnik V”, Lavrov said, according to Russia’s TASS news agency.”
Lavrov is really the greatest liar of our times, even for Putin’s Russia standards: he does it with a straight face.
Unrelated to COVID-19, but fitting the pattern of the “fascist” “Russophobia” of the “rotting West” – news from sports, a press release from 9 October 2021:
“the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA’s) Executive Committee (ExCo) endorsed a WADA Disciplinary Committee recommendation to revoke the ‘approved’ status of the National Anti-Doping Laboratory (MSU) in Moscow (Moscow Laboratory) to carry out blood sample analysis exclusively for the purpose of the Athlete Biological Passport (ABP), due to non-compliances with the International Standard for Laboratories (ISL) and its Code of Ethics.
The Moscow Laboratory, which was already provisionally suspended since January 2020, was immediately notified of the ExCo decision; and, as such, remains ineligible to carry out any work related to the analysis of blood samples in connection with the ABP or any other form of anti-doping analysis for Anti-Doping Organizations that are compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code (Code).”
Since the begin of the COVID-19 pandemic, Putin’s regime has been using the pretence of public health to crack down on opposition. Arrests for the crime of “gathering” are common, and apply only to gatherings of dissidents – Putin’s loyalists are free, or rather made to gather in hundreds, even no face masks needed. Now a doctor, Anastasia Vassilyeva, head of the medical trade union “Alliance of Doctors”, has been sentenced to a year of house arrest. The Insider reports:
“The so-called “sanitary case” was initiated after a protest in support of Navalny on January 23. According to the investigation, the oppositionist’s comrades-in-arms and activists called on people on social networks to participate in a rally on the Pushkin Square in Moscow, thus creating a threat of coronavirus infection.
In total, 11 people were involved in the “sanitary case”, among them: Alexey Navalny’s brother Oleg, FBK lawyer Lyubov Sobol, Navalny’s press secretary Kira Yarmysh, Pussy Riot participant Maria Alekhina and others. The courts passed sentences, according to which the defendants received from a year to one and a half years of restriction of freedom.”
Vassilyeva, a mother of young children, avoided penal colony by publicly distancing herself from Navalny.
In this regard, the international Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) demanded answers from Russia about Navalny’s poisoning with the nerve agent Novichok. Russia refused answering, but via a very long rebuttal letter instead accused the west, especially Germany (where Navalny was rescued) of all possible crimes instead. Here the debunking by The Insider (in Russian).
Trust Russian Tests only
Everything in the West is rotten. Even our COVID-19 antigen tests. A press release by Skoltech, the Russian elite institute in Skolkovo in the suburbs of Moscow:
“Researchers from Skoltech, U.S. companies VirIntel and Argentys Informatics, and two Russian Academy of Sciences institutes have studied the immune response to COVID-19 in patients with different levels of disease severity. The team found that half of the patients without symptoms did not actually produce significant amounts of IgG antibodies of a kind targeted by many popular test kits. […]
The team hypothesizes that if a patient is having an asymptomatic case of COVID-19, their immunity must have done such a great job warding off the infection early on that the virus did not really have a chance to enter the phase of active reproduction. That stage involves cells ripping apart, with unassembled viral spare parts flying every which way. It is only in this tougher scenario that antibodies to the internal parts of the virus — such as its nucleocapsid protein — can form. But as long as the virus does not penetrate into the cell, only antibodies to RBD are produced, since they are the ones targeting the virus’s exterior.”
This is the paper:
Maria Tutukina, Anna Kaznadzey, Maria Kireeva and Ilya Mazo, IgG Antibodies Develop to Spike but Not to the Nucleocapsid Viral Protein in Many Asymptomatic and Light COVID-19 Cases Viruses. (2021) DOI: 10.3390/v13101945
I have two questions. 1. How does a virus replicate without infecting cells then? 2. If the claims are so convincing, why was it published with MDPI?
News in Tweets
- The vaccine-peddling Lizard People deny you the COVID-19 cures chloroquine and ivermectin because there is no money to be earned with those unpatented drugs! Time magazine writes: “From Nov. 2020 to Sept. 2021, Ravkoo filled at least 340,000 prescriptions, amounting to an estimated $8.5 million in drug costs, according to recently hacked data published by The Intercept.“
- An Australian journo, Liam Mannix, writing for Sydney Morning Herald, promised to reference my article about the affair of Sydney research cheaters. Then he decided that passing it all off as his own investigation is a better career move. Normal behaviour in journalism, unfortunately.
- It’s 2021, everyone heard about Elisabeth Bik, Clare Francis and other sleuths, but Gennaro “Gerry” Melino still publishes this pathetically fake crap (Rugolo et al Oncogene 2021). Which is weird, because Melino also plays the champion of research ethics (read here). The proud owner of a 50-paper strong PubPeer record is professor in Rome at University Tor Vergata, and he used to be programme leader at MRC in Cambridge, but his profile there is empty and my email just bounced (“550 5.4.1 Recipient address rejected: Access denied”)
- Israeli scientist Oded Rechavi is like his academician father Gideon, professor at the Tel Aviv University, plus Science Twitter’s coolest guy and comedy genius. Look, here a joke about sharing raw data. Reminds me of Rechavi Jr’s own papers (here, here and here) where he did not always share raw data and also chose not to issue any corrections.
- Elisabeth Bik set her Twitter account to private now (because of harassment from Cassava or Raoult trolls), but if you follow her, you can still open the tweets. Here an insane 2017 correction (Ramli et al Theriogenology 2016): “The authors regret that the original blots which were developed using a chemiluminescent technique generated bands (loading control- GAPDH) that look identical. Experiment has been repeated using calorimetric technique that had generated “less’’ identical bands. Despite of the different techniques, results remain the same.” the editor then wrote to Bik to educate her how wrong she was suspecting the authors.
- Which then grew into a Twitter thread of outrageously evil Elsevier corrections, here Akca et al Lung Cancer 2011, corrected in 2016: “The publisher regrets that the authors mistakenly inserted the incorrect GAPDH line on Fig. 2A.”
- Or cases where Elsevier did nothing et al, like the fake Angelo Vescovi paper Binda et al Cancer Cell 2012, or the bizarre Shaheen et al Colloids and Surfaces B Biointerfaces (2020).
- “An update about the 46 papers by Hossein Baharvand, director of the Royan Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Technology in Tehran. I reported these to journals/publishers in November 2020.” See this blog post by Bik.
- “Of the 46 papers I reported 11 months ago, 3 have been retracted (all Springer, see above), and 19 have been corrected as of today. More than half are still untouched.” That’s Elsevier’s business model!
- At least the Royal Society of Chemistry retracted several papers by the Turkish mega-cheater Fatih Sen. While that one-man-papermill continues publishing in Elsevier and elsewhere as if nothing happened. Must replace those retracted papers fast!
- Smut Clyde on the Chinese paper mill progress:
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If it’s of interest, I fiund out yesterday, one of my Russian environmental colleagues knows one of the Gamaleya Sputnik team and re the AZ stealing story, they were further along with their own research based on what they had done with Ebola. Whether the British, US, Russian and goodness knows who else playing the big pharma game of peeking into each others’ backyards, who knows but the Sputnik vaccine development is only directly benefiting from AZ on the joint trial project they are doing.
“To start out @MicrobiomDigest stresses the importance of the larger network of sites and individuals who work together on scientific integrity.” Source: https://twitter.com/SiccodeKnecht/status/1448294971547824128
There are serious indications that the large majority of the declarations of 80 Dutch police officers in a book by covid-denialists Pieter Kuit and Jade Kuit (his daugther) do not exist, see https://archive.is/HDVop
The christian newspaper ‘Reformatorisch Dagblad’ (website locked on a Sunday) has also published a lengthy article with lots of concerns about the activities of Pieter Kuit. Pieter Kuit is also using the name Pedro Kuit. See https://twitter.com/gdisselkoen/status/1449674377910489088