A key Alzheimer’s study which has been the basis of general research on the topic for the past 15 years — and was heavily relied upon by scientists — may have included aspects that were intentionally fabricated.
Matthew Schrag, a neuroscientist, and physician at Vanderbilt University came across the 2006 study after a colleague wanted to connect him with an attorney investigating the Alzheimer’s drug “Simufilam,” according to Science.org.
The attorney’s clients believed some of the research supporting the drug was fraudulent, leading Schrag to investigate further.
The original 2006 study — published in “Nature” by neuroscientist Sylvain Lesné of the University of Minnesota — “underpins a key element of the dominant yet controversial amyloid hypothesis of Alzheimer’s, which holds that [protein amyloid beta] Aβ clumps, known as plaques, in brain tissue are a primary cause of the devastating illness.”
While Schrag doesn’t claim direct fraud since he does not have access to the raw images, a six-month investigation by Science.org found some of the images: “look like ‘shockingly blatant’ examples of image tampering.”
The authors of the Alzheimer’s study, “appeared to have composed figures by piecing together parts of photos from different experiments,” according to a molecular biologist and well-known forensic image consultant brought in by Science.org. “The obtained experimental results might not have been the desired results, and that data might have been changed to … better fit a hypothesis.”
“The immediate, obvious damage is wasted NIH funding and wasted thinking in the field because people are using these results as a starting point for their own experiments,” said Thomas Sudhof, a Nobel laureate expert on Alzheimer’s and related conditions.
The findings of this investigation have tainted decades of Alzheimer’s research and could potentially lead to over 15 years of data being heavily impacted — or even washed away — after the original study was found to be the most cited Alzheimer’s paper of the 21st century.
This bombshell report shows the impact a single scientist can have on decades of research, and how their data can be erroneously taken as Gospel or fact by the public — something seen all too often during the coronavirus pandemic.
Nevertheless, Alzheimer’s research has taken a considerable blow after these findings. Any attempt at discovering a cure will be far more difficult in the future — following a decade of handicapped research that has finally been dragged out into the light.
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