The researchers whose intrepid pursuit of truth led them to stand up to Duke officials and question repeatedly the cancer "discoveries" of Dr. Emil Potti are giving their first interviews to the news media, and Fact Checker does not like at all what he is hearing.
(( See full interview in Oncology Times - http://journals.lww.com/oncology-times/blog/newestnews/pages/post.aspx?PostID=34 ))
The researchers are from the renowned MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas, Houston. They are Keith Baggerly, Ph.D., associate professor of bioinformatics and computational biology and his colleague, and Kevin R. Coombes, Ph.D., professor and deputy chair of the department.
-- The researchers suggest deep fraud in Potti’s breath-taking claim to discovery of unique information locked in DNA and RNA that would allow doctors to tailor their treatment for lung and breast cancer to the individual, selecting the proper chemotherapy drug and the precise dose.
The next paragraph is the FC understanding of this highly technical situation. The paragraph following is from Oncology Times.
Baggerly explained that Potti's research showed a gene -- ERCC1 -- responded to treatments in a pattern determined by DNA and RNA. However, the tool that Duke investigators said they used in their experiments -- their commercial micro array chip -- does not recognize the ERCC1 gene at all.
From Oncology Times: "Dr. Baggerly says that (Potti and crew claimed) their data showed that expression of a particular gene, ERCC1, correlated with response to some agents. However, the commercial microarray chip the Duke investigators said they used in their experiments does not have that gene."
Loyal Readers, how could Potti, Nevins and Barry possibly reach their conclusions? “I admit this is one for which I do not have a simple, charitable explanation,” said Baggerly sadly.
-- Time after time, Baggerly and Coombes say they were ignored by the administration at Duke. “We have been yelling about the science for three years…. So I find it ironic that (revelations about Potti’s fake Rhodes Scholarship) got things rolling,” said Baggerly. “But I am sufficiently opportunistic that if you give me a way to get attention paid to the science--or to get trials that I really disagree with suspended and have people look at them--I will take that opportunity.”
✔In a separate interview, Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer, American Cancer Society, which paid for some of the Duke "research" and may demand its money back, said Duke may have thirsted for the big bucks it stood to make on licensing Potti’s discoveries -- rather than checking them out.
Brawley said that the community of researchers trying to beat cancer used to be able to depend on a university to oversee its faculty. “But now, in the current age, when people are patenting research and every university has an office of intellectual property, the university, which is supposed to police and supervise the investigator and make sure they are doing things properly and with integrity, has a conflict of interest.”
More Brawley: With the big rush to claim intellectual property rights, “There can be a tendency to rush, and to get sloppy as one rushes to get a product or finding.... I really think our attempt to do this quickly and our attempt to do this with some secrecy, with proprietary nature to it--that is what is hurting us.”
Fact Checker conclusion: Duke's administration is reviewing the lies in Potti's resume, the Rhodes Scholarship and so forth. It claims to be making arrangements for a top-flight scientific body to come in and review all of the science of Potti and his co-scientists, an "unfettered" examination that can move in all directions. But these two steps are not enough.
✔✔It is clear that we have either malfeasance or nonfeasance at the highest levels of Duke. At their October 2-3 meeting, the Trustees must intervene, performing their highest function which is to protect the integrity of this institution. We need an outside probe of the administration, and yes, some hard decisions from the Trustees.
Fact Checker is working on the conflict of interest angle, but this is taking longer than anticipated. Check in a few more days.
Fact Checker would like anyone in a Potti trial -- or anyone who knows of someone -- to make immediate contact.