Acclaimed lab results on cancer fail scrutiny
The Morning Standard|December 08, 2021
Eight-year study concludes that 54% of influential experiments do not hold up when recreated; researchers cagey about techniques

TECH

EIGHT years ago, a team of researchers launched a project to carefully repeat early but influential lab experiments in cancer research. They recreated 50 experiments, the type of preliminary research with mice and test tubes that sets the stage for new cancer drugs. The results reported Tuesday: About half the scientific claims didn’t hold up.

“The truth is we fool ourselves. Most of what we claim is novel or significant is no such thing,” said Dr Vinay Prasad, a cancer doctor and researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, who was not involved in the project. It’s a pillar of science that the strongest findings come from experiments that can be repeated with similar results.

In reality, there’s little incentive for researchers to share methods and data so others can verify the work, said Marcia McNutt, president of the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers lose prestige if their results don’t hold up to scrutiny, she said.

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