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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Truth in Advertising

When you are in the business of selling Widgets, you have a physical product. If they are broken you have to replace them. If the Widgets don't operate as advertised you may have a hard time making money. It behooves you to have a high quality Widget.

In Biotech you are often times selling intellectual property or the promises/claims contained in a patent. I have an example of false promises being sold to RBC Capital Market participants today. Is it a crime to tell people you can select drug candidates quickly and manufacture them in an economically superior manner when in fact neither claim is true? There are claims made on a press release that one particular biotech can have a drug candidate in 5 months which can be ready to manufacture easily scaling from 1 to 50,000 liters. Since this is in the press release, and this is being presented to investors, is this legal if the claims are false? Are biotech companies protected by due diligence laws?

I'm quite certain the claims on the website and the press release are not true. With no real money, the company quickly selected a drug candidate. Luck was on their side and the drug candidate turned out to generate promising data. They received series A financing, hired a CMO to make the drug and they obtained early clinical data that led to a partnership that put the company on stable ground. After the partnership was solidified the big pharma partner soon found out that the small biotech company did not actually have any usable drug.

The data obtained from the small biotechs only drug candidate came from third world clinical trials where the manufacturing details were not closely scrutinized. The small bioech did not have the expertise to make the drug, thus they had to rely on their CMO for process development. They forced their CMO to move fast, with no consideration of future manufacturing processes at a larger scale. The scale listed on their website is 50,000 liters. As a result of the hasty leadership decisions, they were ensuring that the scale up would be disastrous. Ultimately they scaled DOWN from 2,000 liters to 1,000 liters, 49,000 liters short of the scalability claim on the website. If the 50,000 liter scale is ever acheived it will be due to the expertise of the CMO. No one at the small biotech has ever worked in manufacturing.

The claims made at RBC today, by the small biotech, are false. I have not mentioned the other claim that the drug discovery process only takes five months. Also false. The small biotech spent 5 years in between the first and the second drug candidate. The second candidate was mentioned a few years ago without any partnerships lining up. There is in fact, no screening strategy other than the usual methods using ELISAs and FACS analysis looking for drug and target binding.

Why would anyone question the sincerity of the small biotech CEO? If an investor gets excited by the promises and decides to invest, it will be up to them to do their due diligence. The term "due diligence" first came into common use as a result of the United States' Securities Act of 1933. This Act included a defense, referred to as the "Due Diligence" defense, which could be used by broker-dealers when accused of inadequate disclosure to investors of material information with respect to the purchase of securities.

During the partnership between biotech and big pharma, due diligence reviews are undertaken to identify and assess the business risks. In this case, the big pharma company did not do a good job during their due diligence audits of the manufacturing processes. The long delay in providing material for clinical trials was costly, but entirely the fault of the big pharma company. The investors listening to the small biotech CEO today don't know any of this. They are watching people talk. As all investors consider themselves savvy, they are starting the due diligence process as they are listening.

The business model of biotech thus does not require honesty. It requires due diligence on behalf of those we can get to listen to us. The same must go for those looking for that place Feynman speaks of.
So I have just one wish for you--the good luck to be somewhere
where you are free to maintain the kind of integrity I have
described, and where you do not feel forced by a need to maintain
your position in the organization, or financial support, or so on,
to lose your integrity. May you have that freedom.

I can neither confirm nor deny any affiliation with the small biotech I speak of here today. They are a Cargo Cult, experienced at promising cargo, with no expertise on how cargo gets delivered.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Simple, Complicated, Complex and Chaotic

How does this apply to scientific research?

I had written a rant against oversimplifying issues and delegating complicated issues into the simple category. I had came across the idea of simple, complicated and complex issues while reading The Checklist Manifesto. In this book simple issues are like baking a cake. Most people can bake a cake. Next are complicated issues. Sending a rocket into outer space is an example. It can be done but it requires much more knowledge than baking a cake. Then complex issues. Raising a kid is the example. Try as we might, we still have no way of knowing how the kid will turn out.

Chaos, in this video, added one more category to my rant. When we push complicated issues into the simple category, we slip over the edge into chaos.

Does that not describe a Cargo Cult Airport? By attempting to change the shape of the coconut headphones we fail to identify the complicated system in which the headphones play a part. We begin toiling with something that will not accomplish our goals. The question becomes when will we stop wasting our time?

How might this explain the failure rate in published research? RNA interference? Resveratrol? Biotech business models? Successful men and women in unsuccessful industries?

In my own career, the Cynefin chart helps me pin down the issues I've failed to articulate up the chain of command. One project involved a peptide library that was suppose to contain a molecule that would deliver siRNA to cellular targets. It wasn't my idea. I wondered why the MD PhD who dreamed it up thought something so simple could accomplish something so complex. In the complicated category I could create the library and start screening it against specific cell lines. In the complex arena we had no way of knowing if this library even contained a delivery molecule. Our screening methods were not very complicated. We treated cells as if they were proteins. We oversimplified, went over the cliff into chaos, and lost our jobs. As the CCS, I wondered why it took so long to end this project. I didn't predict the job loss, but I wasn't opposed to leaving such a place.

What was the decision making process from our chaotic predicament? Get rid of the white lab coat workers and send the library off to more experienced scientists. Simple! This took place in 2006/2007. The CEO and CSO eventually lost their jobs as well due to poor management and the loss of two large big pharma deals. The library lived on however because there was a simple solution, give it to someone else and let them fish out the magic molecule. The project remains in a state of chaos. The question remains, when will it end?

The library was sent off to Helsinki Finland. In spite of the expertise assumed in the transfer no progress has been made. Since biotech science has no journalistic reporting on the outcome of projects like this, we rely on company press releases to tell us what happens. No news is generally bad news. This experience is akin to what many in drug discovery R&D are facing. They put themselves in an occupation that is suppose to be complicated. However, the degree to which it is complicated is not well defined. When you start a project you cannot guarantee that you will succeed. Your leaders will insist that you do. Quite often, before you cease to be employed, you will enter the realm of chaos.

With a burn rate of $274 million a day, fewer and fewer drugs being discovered, drug discovery R&D is in a state of chaos. Massive layoffs have always been a part of industry. Scientific misconduct is rampant in academia. Published papers predominantly report useless false information. The state of science is chaos. I'm not sure it was ever otherwise. What is the future? It's complex, we can't predict. Will we continue to lose money and nurture the careers of cheaters? It's complicated but he answer is yes. Will we keep funding research? Yes, it's simple. Will we put the money where it will be the most useful? Chaos.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Business Models Vs Science Models

Businessmen make the decisions. When a young bachelor degreed lab tech enters the lab it is at the direction of his/her managers. They get orders from the board. Cure small cell lung cancer. Treat Alzheimer's by making an antibody to a specific region of amyloid beta.

The combination of business decisions, based on market valuation of certain diseases, along with science decisions directed at accomplishing business decisions has led to many a failed drug development program. In the following clip John Cleese describes this problem (towards the end of the clip). Business folk are too dumb to know how dumb they are. But it's not that they are dumb in business. They lack the scientific understanding needed to discover new avenues that are needed now that we've picked all of the low hanging fruit.

And from now on, read everything I write with an English accent. It just sounds better.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Our New Business Models

While scientists toil away in their offices directing the bachelor degreed underlings to run western blots and ELISAs in their laboratories, the businessmen have been trying to solve even bigger problems. How to make money from the directing and toiling.

A few business model concepts were discussed on Xconomy this week. Stewart Lyman and Connie Wong both had interesting articles.

My own take on what is going on these days comes from the lessons learned from Amgen. The book, "800 Million Dollar Pill" begins with a discussion of how Amgen began. It tells the story of the discovery of erythropoietin, or EPO by Eugen Goldwassser. After pitching his product to numerous companies, Applied Molecular Genetics finally bought in, which they advanced by cloning the first cell line that produced recombinant EPO. Prior to the Amgen deal in 1983, Goldwasser spent 25 looking for and researching EPO. The discovery was the result of a government-funded research that began as a Cold War experiment to cure radiation sickness. According to Goldwasser,
Private companies rarely support that kind of research. It takes too long, and the odds of success are even longer.

How did Amgen and Goldwasser come to the conclusion that this product could be used for anemia? (Merril Goozner, author of 800 Million Dollar Pill) posted a brief history of Goldwasser upon his death in 2010. One commenter, Phil Peckham, pointed out the work of two other scientists whom advanced Goldwassers research into the realm of a marketable drug candidate.
In the basement of the first outpatient kidney center in Seattle, Joseph Eschbach and John Adamson do experiments on sheep. As I understand it they exsanguinated one set of sheep thereby inducing amemia. They then collected the EPO rich plasma from the sheep with induced anemia and infused it into a a sheep (I believe named Dolly) that they had induced anemia by removing the kidneys and then sustained via dialysis.

The EPO rich plasma reversed the anemia in Dolly.

Sheeps urine plays a role too but I am not exactly sure – one reason I’d love to read the order of events after an actual journalist looked into it – but this was all happening in ’70s. I suspect that their experiments with sheep, if nothing else, gave the green light to Goldwasser to use his precious sample.

One thing to note is that Eschbach had a large practice during the day. He was the Medical Director of the first home hemodialysis program at Northwest Kidney Centers and followed many patients through his practice at Minor and James a large Seattle medical practice. Imagine your doctor working nights to solve a problem that plagues you and everyone else on dialysis. And then succeeding.

I would love to see an authoritative version of the story. In 2007 Kirin Amgen (I think they initially funded Amgen) established the Joseph W. Eschbach Endowed Chair in Kidney Research at the University of Washington.

The story is one of science that dates all the way back to 1906, if one wanted to write this story.

Amgens success was the result of so many factors it is hard to imagine reproducing that success story. Remove one the many pieces of the puzzle and maybe you don't get the success. It would be like removing a piece of the puzzle from a Sherlock Holmes novel. There are many logical errors found in Sherlock Holmes novels that are elementary logical fallacies. Which brings us back to biotechnology business models.

In Stewart Lymans piece he talks about our ecosystem. One of the members of our ecosystem are the businessmen, who get to make the big decisions. The story of Goldwasser highlights how several groups of businessmen (companies) passed on this opportunity. In my opinion businessmen are businessmen. They excel at talking in meetings and advancing their own careers. Scientists, another part of the ecosystem are different than the businessmen, or at least they used to be. Many of the businessmen today are PhD'd and/or M.D.d individuals. They get to make the big decisions because they have studied how to use the big words that come out of science. But not scientifically. In our ecosystem, the businessmen should listen to the scientists, not tell them what to do.

In Connie Wongs piece she talks about sharing "the words" that come from scientists. The Amgen story is about people, dating back to 1906, who ran experiments and came to the conclusions needed to make Amgen a drug. The science decisions were not business decisions. Part of the Amgen success story is science. There are many branches on this family tree, most of which lead to nowhere. But through the persistence of the scientific process, EPO emerged. Through technology, a recombinant form of the protein emerged that could be manufactured and administered by doctors into patients, two more members of our ecosystem. The businessmen, yet another piece of our ecosystem, made some pretty shrewd, although underhanded, deals with the government that led to the most successful biotech company in our history. All of the branches of the tree succeed by building off of the information of others.

When we look at the work put into making Amgen who they are today, we see that many people are involved. Luck is involved. Randomness, as always, rules our lives. Business models are best described by the ideas put for in "A Drunkards Walk". Perhaps we need to abandon business and once again get back to researching the cell and the human body, without dreaming of fortune and fame. One group studies function, the next studies an application, the next manufacturing, the next clinical and so on. The businessmen are merely one piece of the puzzle. They have a long history of making more bad decisions than good. One of the decisions has been to create a minefield in the career paths of those who conduct the scientific research that leads to products like EPO.

To use another analogy stemming from the biotech ecosystem, I think of the industry like a field of soybeans. The soybeans cannot grow without trees that prevent soil erosion and cleanse the air. Only the soybeans can be sold on the market however. After the harvest the farmer drives his soybeans into town and sells them. He sits at the bar counting his annual pay. It's never enough. He decides to remove the trees to make room for more soybeans.

Marina Biotech, RNAi's 2nd Hit of 2012

Marina Biotech, formerly MDRNA, formerly Nastech, a world leader in RNAi drug development, formerly a world leader in nasal sprays, has announced the closing of their Cambridge facility. The Cambridge facility was formerly known as Cequent.
The closing of the Cambridge site is consistent with our continued efforts to reduce our cash utilization. The individuals affected by this decision were all part of the former Cequent team who then, and certainly over the past several years, were instrumental to the development of CEQ508 and the successful execution of the START-FAP trial. I want to thank them for their efforts and wish them all well in their future endeavors."

Translation: This failure is consistent with our failing management and wasteful spending of other peoples money. We're sacking the Cequent staff as planned. Thanks for CEQ508 and starting the clinical trial. We'll take it from here and fuck it up. So long suckers!

But of course this is RNAi. In an industry that pigeon holes employees, puts them in silos, this is a blow. There are no RNAi jobs out there. RNAi is a passing fad, one that sucked billions out of biotechnology and made a small handful of Cargo Cult leaders very wealthy. There will never be a useful RNAi drug on the market. The RNAi job market can be best described as a falling knife. If you have a notion to enter this field, think again. If you have a chance to get out, do so. The Cequent folk can now move along, but where? It is tough out there. Good luck indeed.

Micheal French and his cult are following the lead of John Maraganore at Alnylam. Sack the scientists to save money for clinical trials. It is the Hail Mary for RNAi. The scientists have all been sent home. The remaining RNAi money will be spent on clinical trials.

M. French, April Fools Day, 2010
We are very excited to bring to MDRNA the unparalleled expertise and commitment of the Cequent team."

M. French, Valentines Day 2012
I want to thank them for their efforts and wish them all well in their future endeavors."

Monday, February 13, 2012

Formatechs Yard Sale

According to the Formatech website:
We seek to Make a Difference in the lives of our clients, their patients and our employees by helping make new drugs happen at the speed of science.

According to a few former employees:
If they (the FDA) dig deep enough they will find that the services they provided over the years were laced with incompetence, and extreme mediocrity.
It is a sweat shop. Horrible working conditions
I know a few people that have worked there in the past and not a single one of them have anything good to say about Formatech.

According to the FDA warning letter:
investigators from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) identified significant violations of Current Good Manufacturing Practice (CGMP) regulations for Finished Pharmaceuticals, Title 21, Code of Federal Regulations, Parts 210 and 211.

But there is a positive side to this story if you work in science. According to
Complete Liquidation of a Formatech Facility: Featuring Lab Equipment, Sterile Processing Equipment, Facility Equipment, Office Furniture & Much, Much More!

What happened? Cellceutix had a contract with Formatech. Surely they were honest people. Why then did someone make this claim:
Take a good look at Cellceutix, they are having their "drug" Kevetrin, formulated by these guys. Cellceutix has claimed to have noted chemist SD on their SAB, yet SD doesn't even know them.

Kevetrin is nothing more than a simple S-alkylthiourea, they claimed it was a novel selective kinase inhibitor, with only millimolar activity! Anyone knowledgeable in this field knows that a kinase inhibitor must have low nanomolar activity to be considered in this regard.

Cellceutix has been reported to the office of criminal investigation at the FDA with regards to their IND submission for this compound.

Oh the seven degrees of separation. In this case biotechnology bullshitters lead from one bad apple to another. One degree of separation. Of course I don't know if any of this news about Cellceutix is true. Professional liars certainly pad the resume of their companies. They flock to biotech. They do things like put down on their resume that they were Rhodes Scholar. Where there is smoke there is fire. What else could be uncovered if one were to look?

Anil Potti

When a professional baseball player gets caught gambling on baseball, he is out of the game. Pete Rose agreed to permanent ineligibility from baseball amidst accusations that he gambled on baseball games while playing for and managing the Reds. He denies ever betting on his own team. The Baseball Hall of Fame formally voted to ban those on the "permanently ineligible" list from induction in 1989. Before 1989 excluding players on the list was done by informal agreement among voters.

Anil Potti was caught cheating in science. Anil Potti still has a job in his chosen field. According to the Coastal Cancer Center website:
In addition to patient care, Dr. Potti is passionate about teaching and research. Over the past ten years including his time at Duke University, he has received several recognitions for mentoring, teaching and research efforts,

True, he received a lot of attention for his research efforts. Still does.

Professional sports takes cheating seriously. Breaking the rules of gambling is not allowed. Getting caught, as Pete Rose was caught, leads to a lifetime ban on playing and/or coaching. Pete Rose should be in the hall of fame. But the leadership of the sport takes cheating seriously.

Science and medicine?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Curious Deception

Just a quick post about something that has been bugging me lately. It is the human resource "skill" of briefly removing a job posting then re-posting to hide the length at which a job has been lingering. In Seattle they post biotech jobs on the WBBA website. This job was vacated in June of 2011, 8 months ago. It was removed last week and has now resurfaced. I had been meaning to catch the latest remove/re-post moment.

I understand that human resource department do not want to advertise their inability to fill positions at their firm. I have a low opinion of HR. That is my bias. What is their bias that leads to the little white lie here?

Filling positions, especially in science, is not a skill HR possess. What do they do then? Most paperwork functions are outsourced. Is this a part of their job, to project an image?

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Machiavellian Leadership

The reason we lose so many jobs and so much money in biotechnology and pharmaceuticals is because we do not fully understand the diseases we set out to make drugs against. Without the ability to follow through on our promises, we need a special kind of leadership.

"Because how one ought to live is so far removed from how one lives that he who lets go of what is done for that which one ought to do sooner learns ruin than his own preservation: because a man who might want to make a show of goodness in all things necessarily comes to ruin among so many who are not good. Because of this it is necessary for a prince, wanting to maintain himself, to learn how to be able to be not good and to use this and not use it according to necessity."

I once read, in "The Scientist, Magazine of the Life Sciences" that science is what scientists do. To take that logic out further, leading is what leaders do. Scientific leaders thus lead science. Here at the CCS we believe that they neither lead nor understand science. Without having read Machiavelli's "The Prince" they have come to the same conclusions:
"...a prince must not have any objective nor any thought, nor take up any art, other than the art of war and its ordering and discipline; because it is the only art that pertains to him who commands. And it is of such virtue that not only does it maintain those who were born princes, but many times makes men rise to that rank from private station; and conversely one sees that when princes have thought more of delicacies than of arms, they have lost their state."

The leaders will fight to keep their status. The battle between Baltimore/Imanish Kari against a lowly post-doc and a minor laboratory issue, demonstrates this fact. Why not retract the paper? The scientific community would not be served well to allow for the bad science that Baltimore and Imanishi Kari had published and became very well aware of. That wasn't their concern however. They needed Margot O'Toole to keep her mouth shut. She wouldn't. The three of them engaged in the art of war. A book was written about the war. No book was written about the paper and the reason it caused a war. The scientific research was, as Machiavelli was say, "a delicacy".

For a more recent example of biotech leadership, check this one out! A leader in biotechnology could be any leader. They all want the same thing. The spoils of war.

Anil Potti, Bharat Aggarwal, Silvia Bulfone-Paus, Dipak Das, to name a few famous "scientists" of late, have had setbacks in the Machiavellian leadership game. They know that this is part of the game however. Samuel D. Waksal (PhD, Immunobiology, Ohio State U.) of Imclone was caught cheating at a couple of endeavors. He was arrested in 2002 on insider trading charges. He pleaded guilty to charges of securities fraud, bank fraud, obstruction of justice, and perjury. In 2003 he pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy and wire fraud for avoiding $1.2 million in sales taxes on $15 million in artwork. Waksal was sentenced to seven years and three months in prison and ordered to pay more than $4 million in fines and back taxes, all the maximum punishments allowable under law. He was released from custody in 2009.

He is currently the chairman and CEO of Kadmon Pharmaceuticals in New York City.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

The Squeaky Floor In the Rat Maze

There have been over 12,000 layoffs announced so far this year at Tekeda, Novartis, Alnylam, and Astra Zeneca so far. Genzyme is letting go an undisclosed amount of their R&D staff in Massachusetts. The exact tracking of layoffs and the consequences is difficult. An outsider, if they had the real stats on our field, may wonder why biotech and pharma drug researchers have such a high rate of layoffs. The best explanation I have heard is from a comment on "In The Pipeline" blog regarding the AstraZeneca layoffs:
If new effective drugs were being discovered all the time there would be no layoffs. The reason they are not being discovered, is that drugs are agents trying to alter a system that is only dimly understood (the cell and its interactions with other cells).

In Feynmans Cargo Cult speech he speaks of a rat maze that was studied by a researcher. The rat maze is a system used to extract an understanding of how rats think. Upon closer scrutiny, the rat maze was dimly understood. The researcher published his findings but it was not well received:
I looked into the subsequent history of this research. The next
experiment, and the one after that, never referred to Mr. Young.
They never used any of his criteria of putting the corridor on
sand, or being very careful. They just went right on running rats
in the same old way, and paid no attention to the great discoveries
of Mr. Young, and his papers are not referred to, because he didn't
discover anything about the rats. In fact, he discovered all the
things you have to do to discover something about rats. But not
paying attention to experiments like that is a characteristic of
cargo cult science. - R. Feynman

The discovery was about research, not rats. You would think we would make research a field of research. But we assume we already understand that system too.

Ignoring things we don't think will get us noticed, things that aren't sexy enough to advance our careers has led us to the continued high rate of layoffs. Those of us who work at the bench level should know when we are working in a cargo cult. When your leaders ignore the murky research methods and they push you along with projects that support a narrative they have prepared, you work in a cargo cult.

The big picture narrative for biotechnology and big pharma is that we fully understand what is happening inside of cells. To prove that, we will be curing and treating diseases. The truth is that we have a dim understanding of the system we are studying. We even have a dim understanding of the tools we use to conduct our research. Human beings have figured out how make a large chunk of metal fly from one side of the ocean to the other. The human body is a far more complex system than that airplane, yet the science is softer.

The amount of layoffs is an indication that we do not know enough about our proverbial rat maze. The scientist who does not know or who has ignored information about the squeaky floor will send forth his staff to obtain information that supports his/her narrative. But in the end the staff will go away, having learned very little. Those who noticed the squeaky floor and failed to make the leadership stand up and take notice will become disgruntled. They may question their ability to apply good science in the world they work in. A trillion dollars can be lost. Several hundred thousand jobs will be created and lost in the process. A lab will sit empty until another sexy narrative is created by a charismatic young wiz kid. The lights will come back on in the lab and the old rat maze will be brought out again.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Catch Us If You Can

This image struck me as very interesting. I pulled it from the Abnormal Science blog. I've blogged about my own experience with the same assay. The concept is simple. You culture RAW 264.7 cells in the presence of RANK-L. In about 5 days this group of cells will fuse together resulting in a group of ugly multinucleated osteoclasts. By adding an antibody against the RANK-L or it's receptor, you can retard or prevent osteoclastogenesis. You could also try RNAi against a critical protein in the pathway kicked off by the RANK-L. Either way, that office bound scientist needs the picture we see above.

My experience with this assay was with RNAi. The very first time I used RNAi I obtained the results that we hoped for. I could not however, repeat those results. I still don't know what happened. I used RNAi against IL-2 which was accused of being in the pathway by a bio-informatics program we were selling. This evidence showed that we were geniuses. In spite of the 9 times this assay did not work, we had photographic evidence that it did. No one was going to ask us how many times we tried this and what was the outcome.

It is not at all difficult to imagine what your P.I. wants when he designs an experiment. Especially if your P.I. is in the business of churning out publications. If he/she says, "provide evidence of osteoclastogenesis and the inhibition of it with my awesome idea", then that is what will be accepted. If you can't do it, someone else will. Do you want to be important and successful like the P.I. or do you want to argue with him/her. P.I.s don't like dissention.

In my example, I obtained the desired outcome right out of the gate. After a few more failed attempts the assay was passed on to another person who gave a presentation of his work on the assay. It was 'sort of working", he claimed. The TRAP assay, which measures tartate resistant alkalyne phophatase, can be done but on a separate petri dish of cells. So for each condition two groups of cells are treated in order to obtain visual and enzyme assay evidence of osteoclastogenesis. If you want to test a treatment more than once, as good science would require, you would need two groups of cells for each replication. What the new lab researcher did was to run the TRAP assay on the same group of cells being photographed at day 5. TRAP accumulates on days 3 and 4. It is the same at days 1,2, and 5. There is a flaw in experimental design. But the P.I. is looking for good images for a powerpoint presentation. He isn't receiving a presentation on experimental design.

Areas on the petri dish where the cells were not fusing were captured in the knock-out treatment. Areas where the cells were fusing in the RANK-L only control were captured. Without using photoshop, the desired images were obtained. The P.I. was happy but the images were not as good as my originals. The researcher had to keep trying.

The new researcher could not hide the fact that the enzyme assay quantified the enzyme being produced for the entire plate of cells. He could not cut out a small section of the plate as he did with his camera, and measure TRAP. What does one do? When showing data on a powerpoint you have a biogolical science tool that has been used over and over. Run the assay over and over. Find the measurements, both within a margin of error, where the measurements differ the most in the direction required by your P.I. Make a bar graph from the data and stretch that graph out to make the height of the bars tell the story you are working on.

When I saw the obvious re-use of the image of the Zerumbone treated cells at days zero and 3, I thought perhaps they could be two different pictures of the same plate. I would have no way of knowing what day they were taken. The darkened circular outline on the right side of the image gave it away. The filter inside the imager created that outline. With a little more effort they could have slid the filter out of the way and photographed a different section of the dish. Dishonest yes but at least not an insulting lack of effort. The re-use of the same picture shows how easy it is to use photography to deceive. You do not even need to use photoshop.

In the concept I put forth in the last post, a Consumer Report for Science Consumers, a small group of image experts would offer non-biased opinions on the images used in each publication being analyzed. The area of expertise would not be in osteoclastogenesis.