Patients are not Healthy Survivors if they believe the promises of charlatans. What about patients who receive treatment from of team of professionals at a major university in a clinical trial that turns out to be based on wrong information?
By determining which genes in her tumor cells were abnormal, researchers could give drugs most likely to attack her particular cancer cells. But the gene-based tests proved worthless, and the research behind them was discredited. Ms. Jacobs died a few months after treatment.
The problem began when scientists hoped that determining the pattern of genes would enhance early detection and personalized treatment. This was -- and still is -- a promising theory. But some doctors began using the tumor-gene analysis and companies began marketing the test before the science proved it worthy.
When statisticians at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center checked the work, they found numerous errors. At first, this didn't stop the Duke researchers from enrolling patients in three trials using the work and setting up a company to sell their test.
In the end, four gene signature papers were retracted. Duke shut down the trials and disbanded the company.
Coming up: How could this happen?