Cancerous Statistics, by Alla Astakhova

Cancerous Statistics, by Alla Astakhova

Russian officials found an ingenious way to cure cancer and to impress their autocratic president Putin: they simply rig statistics. More people die of cancer than actually officially suffer from it. Elsewhere, dead patients disappear or, according to statistics, live forever. This was reported by the Russian independent health journalist Alla Astakhova on her site, Status Praesens, based on an open letter by the oncologist Vakhtang Merabishvili she published. My site now brings you a translation of a related Astakhova article, which covered last year’s lecture by Merabishvili about the rigged Russian cancer statistics.

And these are truly impressively false. While Europe shows for stage IV cancer sufferers a one-year mortality rate of between 30 and 40 percent (in some countries over 50%), Russia achieved a medical sensation: less than 20% die! Also for stages I and II cancer patients, Russian bureaucrats were able to show excellent health improvements. The current Minister of Health Veronika Skvortsova proudly announced to Putin that the early cancer detection rate in Russia is amazing 70%. Yet even the rigged official data shows actually 55% on average (and is higher in more corrupt regions of Russia). In reality, once one does the counting properly, according to international standards, the early cancer detection rate lies between 30 and 35 percent. Same minister Skvortsova recently promised  to raise the life expectancy of Russians to 120, which is impressive given that the current one is around 70. Maybe just for Putin (65), to make sure someone watches over Russia for the next 50 years. It is also a quite convenient excuse for the Russian government to raise the entry into pension age. If you are promised to live till 120, don’t complain if you are told to work till 70 or longer (Russian life expectancy with men is 67).

Russian officials, while promoting their so-called “family values” in a desperate attempt to raise the rapidly declining child births, pretend in their cancer statistics that the population is not ageing at all. Which is convenient, because if you don’t expect an increase of age-related cancers, you do not have to invest in oncology care.

Continue reading “Cancerous Statistics, by Alla Astakhova”

UCL trachea transplants: Videregen sets lawyers on Liverpool academics Murray and Levy

UCL trachea transplants: Videregen sets lawyers on Liverpool academics Murray and Levy

The Science and Technology Committee of the British House of Commons opened in November 2017 an inquiry into Research Integrity. This prompted two University of Liverpool academics to submit a letter to the committee, describing the inaccuracies, misrepresentations and blatant lies which incurred in the course of the trachea transplants performed by the surgeons Paolo Macchiarini and Martin Birchall. The two academics were Patricia Murray, professor in stem cell biology and regenerative medicine, previously a nurse on a Head and Neck unit, and Raphael Lévy, senior lecturer in nanotechnology and imaging. The two also notified the relevant UK authorities and Birchall’s employer UCL of their concerns, especially after even suspected data manipulations came to light. UCL representative gave as a reply an oral and written testimony to the parliamentary committee, other stakeholders provided their own written replies. The first Murray-Levy letter was followed by a second one, because UCL needed help recalling correctly what they did to which patient, and how many have died from the very similar trachea replacement technology which UCL still demands to be allowed to test on 60 more patients.

Now the most vile thing happened, as reported by The BMJ on July 12. Videregen, the Liverpool-based company which bought the trachea regeneration patent from UCL and engages Birchall’s services as advisor, deployed lawyers against Murray and Levy, precisely via their employer University of Liverpool. The main issue is the parliamentary submission by Levy and Murray, subject to absolute privilege. Yet Videregen also cites from the confidential notice of suspected research misconduct Murray and Levy submitted in good faith to UCL (which has not yet decided whether misrepresenting data and providing false information in applications for funding, ethics approval and regulatory permissions is serious enough to warrant an investigation). One wonders who forwarded Videregen this notice, which was confidential and absolutely none of their business? UCL, or their professor Birchall, or Birchall with permission from UCL? Another question is: is our tax money which the EU Commission gave Videregen for trachea transplanting now being used to threaten critics? Continue reading “UCL trachea transplants: Videregen sets lawyers on Liverpool academics Murray and Levy”

The Perennial Northern Blot of Lopez-Otin

The Perennial Northern Blot of Lopez-Otin

On the Iberian peninsula, there seems to be a tradition to give well-connected scientists suspected (or even convinced) of data fudging an award. In Spain, Carlos López-Otín, Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Oviedo, was given a Mentoring Award from the elite journal Nature, on recommendation from Spanish academia and despite evidence of data irregularities in his papers. This prompted my readers, in particular the famous pseudonymous data integrity sleuth Clare Francis, to comment on on PubPeer and on my site (as “Zebedee”) with additional evidence, which made Lopez-Otin’s scientific credibility look progressively worse and worse, with each new post.

Eventually, an image of a Northern blot (showing expression of mRNAs which code for proteins) was found to appear recurrently across several papers from that Oviedo lab, where the authors pretended it was a newly produced analysis. In reality, it was a “library” loading control reused so the authors could re-run same RNA gel of human tissue lysates over the years and never check ever again what they have actually loaded on their gels. Eventually Lopez-Otin et al even stopped caring what order of samples that original loading control had.

Clare Francis was soon joined on his quest for the Perennial Northern Blot of Oviedo by Elisabeth Bik, famous microbiology blogger and image duplication detective, and my regular contributor (also pseudonymous) Smut Clyde, who now presents you the findings of no less than 23 appearances of that same northern blot in 23 publications from Lopez-Otin’s lab in the guest post below. It is just as convincing as if the Spanish actor Antonio Banderas appeared in 23 different films still dressed in same costume from his 1995 hit Desperado, carrying same guitar case. Incidentally, also Lopez-Otin’s Perennial Northern Blot made its first appearance at around that year.
Continue reading “The Perennial Northern Blot of Lopez-Otin”

Trachea transplanters: Round 2 at UK Parliament

Trachea transplanters: Round 2 at UK Parliament

The Science and Technology Committee of the British House of Commons is now dealing with the trachea transplants performed by the scandal surgeon Paolo Macchiarini and his former parter at UCL, Martin Birchall as part of its inquiry into Research Integrity. Two UK scientists from Liverpool initiated this with their written submission from November 21st 2017 which I previously re-published: Patricia Murray, professor in stem cell biology and regenerative medicine, previously a nurse on a Head and Neck unit, and Raphael Lévy, senior lecturer in nanotechnology. Their concerns were not just the past trachea transplants, but also the present clinical trials with bioengineered trachea and larynx which UCL is most keen to start with, following the recommendation of an investigative commission from last year. UCL’s problem is however, that the two phase 1 UK trials are suspended by the UK authorities, and the big phase 2 EU-sponsored trial cannot begin recruiting patients without the results from phase 1.

By now it looks like UCL and their laryngology professor Birchall are in a pickle. Their own reply to the letter by Murray and Levy was not really honest when describing past UCL trachea transplant patients to the Parliament committee. On top of it, it turned out Birchall was reusing data from same old experiments on 16 pigs across different publications which were meant to show separate studies. This, and many more inconsistencies of UCL’s reply to the House of Commons are addressed in the re-published new letter by Murray and Levy from January 30th 2018 below. Continue reading “Trachea transplanters: Round 2 at UK Parliament”

Anne Peyroche removed as interim CNRS President as her publications are “questioned”

Anne Peyroche removed as interim CNRS President as her publications are “questioned”

Things are happening at the French state’s network of research institutes, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS). Their interim president, Anne Peyroche, was now removed prematurely from her position due to evidence of data manipulations in her papers on PubPeer, which I helped uncover. As all credit goes to PubPeer (run chiefly by two CNRS researchers), the announcement unfortunately makes no reference to my call for a minor revolution at CNRS, where these data manipulations were presented to wider public. The official letter which I obtained, is below, both in English translation and its French original.

Another problematic CNRS chief scientist, Catherine Jessus, who as director of l’Institut des sciences biologiques (INSB) is the head biologist at CNRS, was acquitted in November 2017 by a secret investigation at l’Université Pierre et Marie Curie (UPMC) despite all that long list of suspected data manipulations found in her papers (which I originally presented in this article). As Peyroche faces disciplinary investigation by her employer, the Commissariat à l’énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives (CEA), nothing of that kind seems to threaten Jessus. Instead, those CNRS researchers who dare to protest against her  research integrity shortcomings are being threatened and terrorized, by a furious Jessus herself and her supporters at the top of CNRS.

Finally, a particularly data manipulations-ridden Institut de Biologie Moléculaire des Plantes (IBMP) in Strasbourg, former home of the legendary Olivier Voinnet (whom Jessus once investigated for doing those same naughty things she might have just a sbadly engaged herself in) has issued a Code for Ethics and Responsible research, which warns potential perpetrators:

IBMP defines scientific misconduct as:

The selective manipulation, fabrication or falsification of scientific data.

Thing is, IBMP director Laurence Maréchal-Drouard with her PhD student and now tenured lab member Thalia Salinas recently went to PubPeer to admit exactly this kind of misconduct, after I published evidence of data manipulations in Drouard’s many publications and Salinas’ doctorate thesis. Continue reading “Anne Peyroche removed as interim CNRS President as her publications are “questioned””

Appeal to Italian Parliament for an investigation into trachea transplants in Florence by Paolo Macchiarini

Appeal to Italian Parliament for an investigation into trachea transplants in Florence by Paolo Macchiarini

This is an Open Letter I sent today by email to the Italian Senate and its Health Committee, appealing for an investigation into the trachea transplants of the scandal surgeon Paolo Macchiarini.

It is published below bilingually, in Italian and in English. After the earlier Open Letter by Prof Rafael Cantera was signed by over 220 academics and thus led the University of Würzburg in Germany to investigate the trachea transplants of Macchiarini’s former colleagues, Heike and Thorsten Walles, I invite now

  • all Italian clinicians and researchers, in Italy and abroad, as well as their international colleagues working in Italy, to sign this letter in the comment section below. Please use your full affiliation.

The signed Open Letter will be then forwarded to both chambers of Italian parliament and other state authorities.

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Paolo Macchiarini, with his supporter, Governor of Tuscany Enrico Rossi. Photo credit: Corriere Fiorentino

Versione italiana

Appello per un’inchiesta sui trapianti di trachea eseguiti a Firenze da Paolo Macchiarini

Gentili Senatrici, Egregi Senatori membri della 12ª Commissione permanente Igiene e sanità,

questo appello è indirizzato a Voi affinché vogliate considerare l’opportunità di investigare uno dei più gravi casi internazionali di abuso ai danni di pazienti, che è avvenuto e si sta ancora oggi verificando, in grandissima parte anche in Italia.

Chi vi scrive è un giornalista scientifico indipendente, il cui sito web (in lingua inglese) è diventato la più completa fonte di informazioni oggi disponibile a livello globale sul caso di Paolo Macchiarini e della sua “medicina rigenerativa”.

In breve, queste sono state fino a oggi le sue vittime: https://forbetterscience.com/2017/06/16/macchiarinis-trachea-transplant-patients-the-full-list/

Forse avete già avuto modo di apprendere di questa scandalosa vicenda, nella quale persone malate sono state utilizzate quali cavie per esperimenti con trachee artificiali. La maggior parte di essi ora è deceduta, mentre i pochi sopravvissuti soffrono di gravi mutilazioni. Continue reading “Appeal to Italian Parliament for an investigation into trachea transplants in Florence by Paolo Macchiarini”

Tissue-engineered tracheas: an assessment of the scientific, clinical and ethical implications

Tissue-engineered tracheas: an assessment of the scientific, clinical and ethical implications

Here I republish the written evidence submitted to by two UK scientists to the Science and Technology Committee of the British House of Commons and its inquiry into Research Integrity, as originally published on November 21st 2017. It deals with the trachea transplants performed by the surgeons Paolo Macchiarini and his former parter at UCL, Martin Birchall. The report’s lead author is Patricia Murray, professor in stem cell biology and regenerative medicine, previously a nurse on a Head and Neck unit. She generously invited me in May 2017 to give a seminar at her department at the University of Liverpool on this topic. Her coauthor is Raphael Lévy, senior lecturer in nanotechnology and imaging at the same university. I wrote about his reproducibility studies on the topic of nanoparticles in this article.

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Prof. Patricia Murray

UCL recently investigated Birchall’s past trachea transplants, and recommended to continue with his two current clinical trials to transplant cadaveric decellurised trachea and larynx, regenerated with bone marrow cells, as I reported here. For some reason, UCL Registrar Wendy Appleby, when speaking as witness on November 21st in front of the Parliament Inqury, found herself unable to answer the rather straightforward question whether the UCL investigative commission advised to continue transplanting trachea or not (watch here, from 11:50 on). Appleby and her UCL were instructed by the Inquiry to address the concerns by Murray and Levy in writing.

Both clinical trials  Inspire and RegenVox were already placed by the supervising authorities on hold, Murray and Levy now call to stop the dangerous and science-unsupported experimenting on misinformed human patients and to return back to the lab.

Following is a copy of the (originally published on the UK Parliament website), Continue reading “Tissue-engineered tracheas: an assessment of the scientific, clinical and ethical implications”