Schneider Shorts of 14 January 2022 – cannabis for COVID-19, Retraction Watch catches two lady fraudsters, with Spain’s science elites, Portugal’s greatest cancer researcher, a successful pig heart, Frontiers swamped by papermills, lab leak not always a conspiracy theory, and a dirty old man in Marseille unleashing a mob against own daughter.
Table of Discontent
- Raoult vs his daughter – chloroquine antivaxxer deployed Chabriere to do the dirty job
- Grant money for Hetz – Chilean cheater Claudio Hetz gets a governmental grant
- Learning from the best – third-generation data fudger Carlos Guillen explains
- Fox guarding the henhouse – Antonio García de Herreros appointed to sack whistleblowers and defend fraudsters in Catalonia
- Chainsaw innocent – Retraction Watch and Rochester catch two lady fraudsters, male boss Chawnshang Chang protected
- Portuguese genius – Zombie Scientist Sonia Melo brings hope to those dying of cancer
- Successful pig heart – transplant breakthrough or business fundraising?
- Extend Life with Dr Kraus – Stanford science by Israeli ScientistsTM
- Best COVID-19 prevention ever – cannabis as chewing gum
Raoult vs his daughter
The chloroquine guru Didier Raoult continues his trip towards sociopathic madness. Two things are now in the French news.
First, Raoult, who always was a “vaccine sceptic”, is becoming a proper unhinged antivaxxer to match his friend Christian Perronne. Raoult announced live on air that COVID-19 vaccines would create “facilitating antibodies” which cause you to catch COVID-19 in the first place. Basically, it’s the vaccinated who spread the disease and must be isolated!
The other thing is even more insane. Raoult unleashed his psychopathic pit bull terrier Eric Chabriere (a misogynous antisemite with Nazi friends, who likes to threaten people with execution) to harass Raoult’s own daughter (from his first marriage). Magali Carcopino-Tusoli is a doctor herself, her crime was to have been very critical of her father’s chloroquine quackery and unethical behaviour. Basically, Chabriere went to Twitter to incite a violent mob to attack Raoult’s daughter, with full support from the IHU patriarch.
Le Monde now reports that she and her husband denounced Chabriere with the state prosecutor for online harassment:
“A mysterious account, Le Professionnel (“IHU Defense, Humor, Antitroll, Antidefakemed”), suspended today for violating Twitter rules, is spreading lies about Xavier Carcopino’s privacy. Embellished with a few misogynistic insults reserved for the Marseille professor’s daughter: “Magali, the ugly little duckling.” In a family of shiny oaks, there are bound to be acorns. Same spelling mistakes, same virulent style, same references to the movie with Belmondo… Like many others, Magali Carcopino-Tusoli and her lawyer are convinced that Eric Chabrière is hiding behind it.”
Carcopino-Tussoli also presented evidence to the state prosecutor that the violence-inciting troll account @LeProfessionne9 indeed belonged to Chabriere (who denies being its owner). Raoult himself also likes to issue death threats. As Le Monde mentions, a TV journalist who asked about his retirement plans was warned by angry Raoult that he might get killed crossing the street long before the IHU director retires.
A French truth is unfortunately that Raoult will never stand a court trial for his crimes, regardless of what human abuse journalists will keep uncovering.
Investigated by France’s medical authorities, Raoult has not yet paid a cent for his legal costs. His IHU, sponsored by the public and pharma industry, foots all his legal bills, currently at €56,000. The IHU scientific director and Raoult’s personal friend Yolande Obadia just decided to issue another €80k for his unconditional legal defence. Raoult and Chabriere also used this money to open criminal proceedings against Karine Lacombe, Elisabeth Bik, Boris Barbour, Alexander Samuel and yours truly with the Marseille state prosecutor (same one who refused to raise charges against Raoult for patient abuse).
Already emerited by his university and the public hospital network, the chloroquine guru will most likely pass on the IHU reigns to a loyal insider and continue trolling the nation on television from his retirement. He has nothing to fear, his connections, especially on the far-right, national-conservative and centre-right side of French politics are solid as a rock. Even last September, France’s President Emmanuel Macron declared:
Grant money for Hetz
The neuroscientist Claudio Hetz, found guilty of research misconduct (but not intentional fraud!) by his University of Chile, just got a research grant from the national agency Fondecyt.
The grant not huge, the maximum applicable amount announced was 57 million pesos, around $60k. But in Chilean academia, it is still serious money which has been denied to Hetz’s honest competitors.
You can find him in this file, Nr 1220573, HETZ FLORES, CLAUDIO ANDRES, BIOLOGIA 2, UNIV. DE CHILE.
The extra joke is that Hetz, like all other applicants, had to provide, among other documents an “Approval certifications of the Ethics“. Guess he submitted his newspaper interviews where he declared himself to be a victim of a targetted harassment by yours truly.
Learning from the best
The Spanish diabetes researcher Carlos Guillen, a former mentee of Manuel Benito and Angela Valverde (read here), and now associate professor at the same Complutense University in Madrid, has explained on PubPeer why his papers contain manipulated data.
In one case, Guillen declared fake western blots to be “mistake during the generation of the final version of the manuscript“, in another these most obviously fraudulent blots were merely a “mistake during the elaboration of the final figure“. He also provided replacement data, although with rather diverging results from what he served the scientific community in his papers. Still, Guillen refused to issue even a correction, and insisted that
There is of course more, from Guillen’s PhD period.
C. Guillén, A. R. De Gortázar , P. Esbrit The Interleukin-6/Soluble Interleukin-6 Receptor System Induces Parathyroid Hormone–Related Protein in Human Osteoblastic Cells Calcified Tissue International (2004) doi: 10.1007/s00223-004-0113-1
Oh, but it’s just a fake loading control! And anyway, Guillen had nothing to do with it, just like Valverde and other mentees of the deceased Margarita Lorenzo, he pointed a finger at his PhD mentor: “the PI retired several years ago and the laboratory was dismantled. Then, it is impossible to localize the original scanned images from these experiments.“
Unlike Lorenzo, the Complutense University emeritus Pedro Esbrit is alive and will hopefully defend his reputation. There is more:
Carlos Guillén, Pilar Martı́nez , Arancha R. De Gortázar , Marı́a Eugenia Martı́nez , Pedro Esbrit Both N- and C-terminal domains of parathyroid hormone-related protein increase interleukin-6 by nuclear factor-kappa B activation in osteoblastic cells The Journal of biological chemistry (2002) doi: 10.1074/jbc.m111013200
Cheshire asked Guillen on PubPeer:
“what do you think should happen in these types of cases (as this is not unique)?
Choices: Nothing? Contact the journal and let editors decide? Independent investigation? An expression of concern (or other editorial note)? Retraction? Something else?“
Guillen opted for “nothing”, his honest arguments being that nobody else cares about that Photoshop fraud anyway and that he is anyway too busy with “the advance of knowledge for understanding the cause of the diseases and trying to generate new treatments or better ones for curing people.”
Incidentally, Guillen is a fan of David Sabatini, whom he describes as a “superb scientist” and his “scientific idol”:
Let’s hope Sabatini isn’t Guillen’s role model in every respect.
Fox Guarding the Henhouse
Guillen doesn’t need to fear anything indeed. In Spain, research ethics are as exotic as vegan dishes. Clare Francis found an announcement from April/May 2021:
“Dr. Antonio García de Herreros, a researcher at the Hospital del Mar Institute for Medical Research (IMIM) and a professor in the Department of Experimental and Health Sciences at Pompeu Fabra University, joins as a member of the Appeal Committee of the Agency for the Quality of the University System of Catalonia (AQU Catalunya), the main instrument for the promotion and evaluation of quality in the Catalan university system.
In this sense, Dr. García de Herreros has extensive experience in evaluation as he has been participating in the AQU Catalunya faculty evaluation commissions since 2012. As a member of this committee, he will be in charge of studying and deciding on the appeals that are presented to the negative decisions of the accreditations of Lecturer, Associate Professor and Professor, and also on the granting of Research Sections. Within the commission, Dr. García de Herreros will mainly examine the files of the areas of Life Sciences and Medicine.”
Now, to call Toni García de Herreros a dishonest cheater who should be the last person allowed to evaluate Catalonian scientists is merely a polite way to describe him. This one has with over 30 papers on PubPeer and 4 retractions for fraud. His regular coauthors are such toxic figures like his Barcelona colleagues Mireia Duñach with 17 papers on PubPeer, and Sandra Peiró with 9 papers on PubPeer, and the data fudging Italians Pier Giorgio Natali and Anna Bagnato (over 20 joint papers on PubPeer).
Here some typical examples of Garcia de Herreros’ research:
Basically, Garcia de Herreros now has the power to make sure, for all of Spanish academia, that all research fraudsters are protected and that all research misconduct whistleblowers are mercilessly sacked. Well done, Spain.
The scientific world is once again bowing in eternal gratitude to Retraction Watch for having solved yet another research fraud case, its only culprits apprehended and punished.
Our Watchdog heroes Ivan Oransky and Adam Marcus spoke to the officials at the University Rochester in USA. We learn that the university has investigated two women, an assistant professor Soo Ok Lee and full professor Yuhchyau Chen, the former has been just sacked.
Three papers of theirs were retracted by now, Retraction Watch quotes the University of Rochester Medical Center dean Dirk Bohmann:
“To determine whether research misconduct occurred as defined by the relevant regulations, the committee further investigated whether falsification was committed “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly” or reflected a significant departure from accepted research practices in the field of radiation oncology.
After reviewing lab records and interviewing multiple faculty and staff members involved in the research, the committee’s investigation determined that a preponderance of evidence did not support a finding of research misconduct by Dr. Lee or Dr. Chen. A specific allegation that Dr. Lee falsified an experiment because she lacked access to a particular plasmid was determined conclusively to be false.
However, the investigation found many errors in published figures which Dr. Lee acknowledged, saying they resulted from a faulty data management system and multiple experiments being conducted in the same time frame. The committee determined that incorrect images appeared in 13 of the 15 articles investigated, which were published in 10 different journals between September 2015 and September 2019. Although the investigation did not prove misconduct, these revelations were disappointing and concerning to us. Whether the cause was intentional misconduct or poor laboratory practice, the fact that flawed information was entered into the scientific record by members of our University is incongruent with our standards as a research institution.”
Now, what Retraction Watch does not want you to know (they are perfectly familiar with this article by Smut Clyde and me), is those things:
- The investigation only happened after I reported the PubPeer findings to this same Bohmann and his colleagues in March 2020
- It was already the second investigation of these scientists, the first took place in 2012 initiated by the Rochester researcher and whistleblower Paul S Brookes, and led nowhere.
- The main figure in this fraud affair was actually at all times a senior male colleague of these two women, Chawnshang Chang, head of the George Wipple Lab, affectionately called by his Rochester colleagues “Chainsaw”.
You will note that Retraction Watch never mentions Chainsaw Chang, not in that article or anywhere else. That is because University of Rochester doesn’t mention him, as we now see he was not even subject to the investigation which led to Lee’s sacking. The university even made sure none of Chang co-authored papers will be subject to retractions, and out of the 45 papers Smut Clyde uncovered and I reported to Bohmann and his colleagues, the University of Rochester investigated only 15. Likely those without Chang’s contribution. But Chang is the central figure in this fraud affair, and Retraction Watch knows this very well.
Now I don’t know what Retraction Watch‘s Oransky and Marcus derive from this misogyny and corruption. But I advice my readers never to take these Watchdogs’ version of events as complete or final.
Portugal proudly announces a cure for pancreatic cancer. A national newspaper reports excitedly:
“Scientists from the Institute for Research and Innovation in Health (i3S) at the University of Porto have unveiled a method that, by stopping the communication between cancer stem cells and other tumor cells, prevents the progression of pancreatic cancer. Published in the journal Gut , the study unveils new therapeutic possibilities for the treatment of pancreatic cancer, underlines this Tuesday, in a statement, that institute of the University of Porto.”
Guess who the genius behind this is. The zombie scientist Sonia Melo, who was caught on massive fraud in her papers, saw her EMBO Young Investigator award revoked, and then was somehow whitewashed and protected by her dishonest colleagues in Portugal. She was then given new awards, is again celebrated as Portugal’s greatest scientist, and prestigious journals are honoured to publish her “science”.
Here is the new paper in a BMJ journal, together with her former boss and another massive cheater from MD Anderson in Texas, Raghu Kalluri:
Carolina F Ruivo , Nuno Bastos , Barbara Adem , Ines Batista , Cecilia Duraes , Carlos A Melo , Stephanie A Castaldo , Francisco Campos‐Laborie , Pedro Moutinho-Ribeiro , Barbara Morão , Ana Costa-Pinto , Soraia Silva , Hugo Osorio , Sergio Ciordia , Jose Luis Costa , David Goodrich , Bruno Cavadas , Luisa Pereira , Tony Kouzarides , Guilherme Macedo , Rui Maio, Fatima Carneiro, Marília Cravo, Raghu Kalluri, Jose Carlos Machado, Sonia A Melo Extracellular Vesicles from Pancreatic Cancer Stem Cells Lead an Intratumor Communication Network (EVNet) to fuel tumour progression Gut (2022) doi: 10.1136/gutjnl-2021-324994
A massive fart in the face of every honest Portuguese researcher.
“The results of the study indicate two avenues in research: the “use of drugs to prevent communication between cancer cells” and “antibodies to block the Agrin protein”.
The two methods “have potential as therapeutic solutions to be applied by clinicians to patients with pancreatic cancer with the aim of halting tumor progression and minimizing therapeutic resistance”, says Sónia Melo.”
Do you know how I learned of these amazing cancer breakthrough news? A Portuguese woman whose mother is dying from pancreatic cancer sent it to me yesterday, asking if her mother should join clinical trials by Melo’s colleagues in Porto.
[Insert your own expletive.]
Successful Pig Heart
The world is excited: a pig heart was transplanted into a human, a scientific breakthrough announcing the end for organ shortage. All news outlets worldwide reported it, here the New York Times:
“A 57-year-old man with life-threatening heart disease has received a heart from a genetically modified pig, a groundbreaking procedure that offers hope to hundreds of thousands of patients with failing organs.
It is the first successful transplant of a pig’s heart into a human being. The eight-hour operation took place in Baltimore on Friday, and the patient, David Bennett Sr. of Maryland, was doing well on Monday, according to surgeons at the University of Maryland Medical Center.
“It creates the pulse, it creates the pressure, it is his heart,” said Dr. Bartley Griffith, the director of the cardiac transplant program at the medical center, who performed the operation.”
That the new heart is beating, is actually not unexpected. Question is, what happens to the heart and the patient in the next days.
“Mr. Bennett decided to gamble on the experimental treatment because he would have died without a new heart, had exhausted other treatments and was too sick to qualify for a human donor heart, family members and doctors said.
His prognosis is uncertain. Mr. Bennett is still connected to a heart-lung bypass machine, which was keeping him alive before the operation, but that is not unusual for a new heart transplant recipient, experts said.”
This means, the doctors do not yet trust the new heart to actually work properly, i.e., to deliver enough oxygen. If they can’t take the patient off the heart-lung machine, the pig heart transplant will be an utter and total failure. Regardless of how the media sees it.
This part is interesting also:
“The heart transplanted into Mr. Bennett came from a genetically altered pig provided by Revivicor, a regenerative medicine company based in Blacksburg, Va.
The pig had 10 genetic modifications. Four genes were knocked out, or inactivated, including one that encodes a molecule that causes an aggressive human rejection response. A growth gene was also inactivated to prevent the pig’s heart from continuing to grow after it was implanted, said Dr. Mohiuddin,who, with Dr. Griffith, did much of the research leading up to the transplant. In addition, six human genes were inserted into the genome of the donor pig — modifications designed to make the porcine organs more tolerable to the human immune system.
The team used a new experimental drug developed in part by Dr. Mohiuddin and made by Kiniksa Pharmaceuticals to suppress the immune system and prevent rejection. It also used a new machine perfusion device to keep the pig’s heart preserved until surgery.
The Food and Drug Administration worked intensely toward the end of the year, finally giving the transplant surgeons an emergency authorization for the operation on New Year’s Eve.”
It is the same company Revivicor, which already made world-wide news in October 2021 having produced a pig kidney, which was “successfully” transplanted by the same Maryland surgeons into, or rather onto a brain-dead person, for a short time before the machines were switched off:
“After attaching the kidney to blood vessels in the upper leg, the surgeons covered it with a protective shield so they could observe it and take tissue samples over the 54-hour study period.”
It is all extremely experimental and there are clear business interests, even if the parent company United Therapeutics Corporation charms you with humoristic cartoons of their founders and board members. They do not list any scientific publications though.
It would be truly a miracle if the heart-lung machine can be turned off and the heart recipient will recover. The more likely scenarios are:
- The pig heart, despite all the high-tech transgenicy, will be rejected, the man dies.
- The man dies being simply too frail but before the heart is fully rejected. The company announces success, raises enormous investment, other pig heart transplants into humans might follow but prove much less convincing, no more are approved.
In either case, you will not read about any of that in the major news. Bad news from science is never newsworthy. Especially if the news is an update on a previous science breakthrough.
Extend life with Dr Kraus
Sponsored Content at Times of Israel (at least they admit being paid for their pseudoscience trash):
“InsideTracker, a US startup founded by an Israeli researcher of aging, hopes to add active years to users’ lives through a personalized nutrition and performance system that could mean more to you, your health providers and ultimately your insurance company than the number of candles on your birthday cake.
The InsideTracker app – available for all online devices – flags problem areas and delivers customized interventions, like “have one serving of probiotics each day” or “aim for three 20-minute workouts per week” that can help you live, age and perform better.
“To perform at your best, you need to look under the hood. InsideTracker helps me do that,” says Dr. Emily Kraus, a sports medicine physician and researcher at Stanford University in California. “I find I’m reinforcing the recommendations given by InsideTracker. It doesn’t replace me, but it does make my job easier.””
At the danger of sounding like a sexist swine, I struggle to take Dr Kraus seriously as a scientist, even if she is indeed assistant professor in Stanford. But she will do as one of those Israeli ScientistsTM enterprising geniuses.
“The company’s technology has been certified in peer-reviewed research published in Scientific Reports.”
Not linked in the article or Kraus’ Stanford profile, and I am too lazy to search it.
Best COVID-19 prevention ever
All news outlets are excited, because finally a COVID-19 preventive has been found and it’s cannabis.
Basically, you need to be constantly stoned and then the coronavirus can’t get you. Even the Omicron is helpless, just pop a cannabis chewing gum (works better than a roach). American science has spoken, here is the paper in an ACS journal:
Richard B. Van Breemen , Ruth N. Muchiri , Timothy A. Bates , Jules B. Weinstein , Hans C. Leier , Scotland Farley , Fikadu G. Tafesse Cannabinoids Block Cellular Entry of SARS-CoV-2 and the Emerging Variants Journal of Natural Products (2022) doi: 10.1021/acs.jnatprod.1c00946
The abstract declared:
“As a complement to vaccines, small-molecule therapeutic agents are needed to treat or prevent infections by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) and its variants, which cause COVID-19. Affinity selection–mass spectrometry was used for the discovery of botanical ligands to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. Cannabinoid acids from hemp (Cannabis sativa) were found to be allosteric as well as orthosteric ligands with micromolar affinity for the spike protein. In follow-up virus neutralization assays, cannabigerolic acid and cannabidiolic acid prevented infection of human epithelial cells by a pseudovirus expressing the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and prevented entry of live SARS-CoV-2 into cells. Importantly, cannabigerolic acid and cannabidiolic acid were equally effective against the SARS-CoV-2 alpha variant B.1.1.7 and the beta variant B.1.351. Orally bioavailable and with a long history of safe human use, these cannabinoids, isolated or in hemp extracts, have the potential to prevent as well as treat infection by SARS-CoV-2.”
The lead author, the Oregon State University professor Richard Van Breemen (speciality: “Cancer prevention by dietary antioxidants, and prostate cancer prevention by the carotenoid lycopene“) was interviewed by VICE, where he explained:
“We were looking at black cohosh, and red clover and licorice, and we added hemp, and we discovered three compounds in hemp that had this high ability to bind to the spike protein. And we even determined that some of them bind to sites on that spike protein and synergistically they can have a bigger effect than if one is using one compound at a time instead of the mixture. So we think the mixture of cannabidiolic acid (CBD-A), cannabigerolic acid (CBG-A), and tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THC-A) would be more effective than any one of them alone. “
Van Breemen is not high on Mary Jane, he is just a conceited ignorant quack. The real shame is on science editors and journalists who pick up this pseudoscience trash for clickbait.
News in Tweets
- The good news is our top scientists are not stupid, they clearly understood very early on in the pandemic that COVID-19 quite possibly might have happened due to gain-of-function experiments and a lab leak in Wuhan. The bad news is that these same top scientists decided that the rest of the world was too stupid to handle the facts, and decided to patronisingly misinform us all instead. Emails by Anthony Fauci, Francis Collins, Jeremy Farrar and others obtained by Republicans.
- US Right to Know found out that Peter Daszak, director of EcoHealth Alliance made sure early in the pandemic that no viral sequences from his Wuhan collaborators are released to the public, to avoid “unwelcome attention”. These bat coronavirus sequences, deposited outside of Daszak’s and China’s control on NIH databases, are still secret. Logic dictates that a small circle of top people at NIH and US government has access, but is not sharing. I wonder why.
- Apparently, someone rushed to claim The Omicron Plague was another lab leak also. Swiftly debunked, by same scientists who take a lab leak origin of COVID-19 as quite likely.
- Once again, Retraction Watch wants you to thank them alone for reporting about papermill fraud and mass retractions at Frontiers. Oransky and Marcus know perfectly well this papermill was discovered by Smut Clyde, who published his findings and a spreadsheet on For Better Science (Retraction Watch bans all mention of my website).
- With papermills, you get what you paid for. But it still passes peer review with respectable publishers.
- Clearly a victory for Open Access and Plan S, almost €10k to publish one paper a journal with “Nature” in its title. It’s not just the allegedly fancy Nature Neuroscience. Also the newly founded Nature-themed scams like Nature Aging, Nature Cancer or Nature Food charge €9500 from their OA-mandated authors.
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