“There is simply no possibility, no rational way that this could happen,” he said.
Elisabeth Bik, a Senior Expert in image manipulation, became aware of the company last summer after short sellers filed the FDA petition. In a series of Twitter posts, posts on her blog, and on the PubPeer website, Dr. Bik pointed to signs that she says show some results have been copied and pasted from other experiments.
“These were very concerning,” she said in an interview. Based on the pattern of irregularities in the images of several articles, she thinks that “it is very likely that there was some manipulation going on”.
Charles Spruck, a cancer researcher at the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute in San Diego who has more than 25 years of experience with the Western blot method, said he thinks the abnormalities in these images could be the result of mere mistakes or quirks of technique.
Irregularities or errors in one or two images may be due to chance, but “when you see it over and over again, it’s unlikely you’ll do it accidentally,” said Dr. David Vaux, deputy director of the Scientific Integrity and Ethics at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Australia.
Mr Barbier dismissed the criticism, saying the irregularities did not impact the results of the company’s research. “These background pixels have no impact on the data or its interpretation,” he said, adding “We support Professor Wang 100%.”
Dr Vaux and others lamented the limitations of peer review to identify errors or manipulations, and said many scientific journals were reluctant to withdraw their articles for fear of being sued or of being brought to bear. damage to their own reputation.
“It’s time for regulators to step in, because it seems the peer review process has pushed it as far as it can go,” Dr Hu said. “If the tide has changed such that the science seems not to be there, I just don’t see how clinical trials can proceed.”