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Most laboratory cancer studies cannot be replicated, study shows

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e2555 (Published 04 April 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e2555
  1. Nigel Hawkes
  1. 1London

Most laboratory studies of cancer are wrong, says a former head of global cancer research at the biotechnology company Amgen. Of 53 “landmark” publications in the literature that Glenn Begley and colleagues attempted to double check, only six could be successfully replicated.

“It was shocking,” he told Reuters. “These are the studies that the pharmaceutical industry relies on to identify new targets for drug development. But if you’re going to place a $1m or $2m or $5m bet on an observation, you need to be sure it’s true. As we tried to reproduce these papers we became convinced that you can’t take anything at face value.”

Begley, who is now senior vice president of the biotechnology company TetraLogic, wrote a comment in Nature (2012;483:531-3, doi:10.1038/483531a) with Lee Ellis of …

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