Image manipulation, lack of evidence, aborted medical trials… A survey published by the journal Science, Thursday, July 21, reports suspicions of fraud in research into Alzheimer’s disease. This neurodegenerative pathology, which affects some 50 million people worldwide and gradually progresses to dementia, is still incurable despite decades of research.
French researcher Sylvain Lesné is accused of having modified images to corroborate his study published in the journal Nature in 2006, largely resumed since. This researcher at the University of Minnesota (USA) highlighted the role of amyloid protein: by injecting a form of amyloid into young rats, they began to lose their memory. It thus confirmed the theory of the “amyloid cascade” developed in the 1990s. But some evidence would have been falsified, according to Science.
The neurologist who identified these possible manipulations, Matthew Schrag, was originally investigating an experimental drug. In August 2021, he had been contacted by a law firm, says Science. The clients of this firm, two neuroscientists, have doubts about the effectiveness of a molecule being tested against Alzheimer’s disease, Simufilam.
The report made by Matthew Schrag mentions possible fraud in the results of the American laboratory which develops the drug, Cassava Sciences. A request for interruption of clinical trials is then filed with the American Medicines Agency (FDA), on the grounds that the benefit-risk balance is not sufficiently substantiated. ButThe request to stop the tests in progress is rejected.
The link between these two cases? “Scientific integrity has not been respected”according Philippe Amouyel, CEO of the Alzheimer Foundation. The professor of medicine ensures all the same that this absence of evidence and these suspicions of fraud do not call into question all the research on this pathology in recent decades. The international conference on Alzheimer’s disease, scheduled for July 31 to August 4 in San Diego (United States), is in any case likely to be animated.