Friday, October 25, 2019

Newswatch: German commission dings LBx cancer researcher re molecular screening tests

On October 25, 2019, Science published an open access news item with the provocative title, "German university finds ‘severe’ misconduct by researcher who promoted questionable cancer blood test."  I recall news items about this test over the past year; it concerns a new LBx test sensitive and specific enough to be used for cancer screening.   Now it's being labeled "questionable" in some news reports.  (For early favorable press, here.  For skepticism as far back as April 2019, here.)
  • See the new article by Hinwerk Feldwisch-Drentrup in Science, online here.
In fact, the article describes a flip-flop series of events.  In February 2019, a press release described the screening cancer liquid biopsy test as "revolutionary."  In past months, however, "the hospital has been rocked by scandal" including "criminal proceedings."   According to Science, "in July, an external panel established by the hospital board presented the results of a preliminary investigation, criticizing the press releases as premature and 'yellow press instead of serious science communication.' "

Then there is another twist, the accusatory report was pulled from its public release, and a court ordered a press conference on the alleged wrongdoing to be cancelled.

For full details, see Science link above.  See website of the company HEISCREEN, here.

Some Heiscreen webtext after the break.

Heidelberg, den 29.Mai 2019
Stellungnahme der HeiScreen GmbH Geschäftsführung
In verschiedenen Berichterstattungen wurde der Eindruck erweckt, es existiere bislang kein Bluttest für Brustkrebs. Der Eindruck ist falsch.

Hierzu stellt die Heiscreen GmbH wie folgt fest:
Es gibt einen Bluttest für Brustkrebs, der unter Laborbedingungen im Universitäts Klinikum Heidelberg bereits funktioniert und in der klinischen Forschung angewendet werden kann....

I've used Google Translate below; my own reading of the German is the same.

Statement of the HeiScreen GmbH management:

Various reports have given the impression that there is no blood test for breast cancer. The impression is wrong.

Heiscreen GmbH states as follows:
There is a blood test for breast cancer that already works under laboratory conditions at Heidelberg University Hospital and can be used in clinical research ....


A German article on the news story, dated Oktober 23, is here.  Also here and here and here.

The Tagesspiegel headline below states:  When research moves into therapies, financial interests get involved.  "Strafanzeige" is "criminal offense."