Search This Blog

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Woo Retractions

Gene Therapy is interesting. There is something to confusing a cell with extra DNA. We know we can insert DNA into a genome and it will express a protein of our desire. It may also splice that piece of DNA out of the genome.

But to simply throw DNA at a cell is not science. You randomly introduce DNA to a living organism, see what happens and create a story behind the results. So far there hasn't been the kind of explanation of gene therapy that leads to a predictable outcome. Throwing dice on the other hand has been studied for centuries and we know what will happen.

Which leads to the Woo story. Two of Woo’s post-doctoral fellows at Mount Sinai School of Medicine were dismissed for “research misconduct,” said Ian Michaels, a spokesman for the institution. According to Michaels:

"When Dr. Savio L C Woo came to suspect that two post-doctoral fellows in his laboratory may have engaged in research misconduct he notified the Mount Sinai Research Integrity Office. Mount Sinai immediately initiated institutional reviews that resulted in both post-doctoral fellows being dismissed for research misconduct. At no time were there allegations that Dr. Woo had engaged in research misconduct. As part of its review, the investigation committee looked into this possibility and confirmed that no research misconduct could be attributed to Dr. Woo, who voluntarily retracted the papers regarding the research in question. Mount Sinai reported the results of its investigations to the appropriate government agencies and continues to cooperate with them as part of its commitment to adhere to the highest standards for research integrity".

The papers, which appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute and Human Gene Therapy, involve findings published between 2005 and 2009, address various aspect of gene therapy. Two of the articles boasted of potential breakthroughs, and even a possible cure, for diseases with extremely high rates of mortality.

No there was no misconduct on Dr. Woos' part. Just an eagerness to see what he wanted to see. And that is a Cargo Cult offense.

No comments: