MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

On Twitter and elsewhere, homeopaths have been celebrating: FINALLY A PROOF OF HOMEOPATHY HAS BEEN PUBLISHED IN A TOP SCIENCE JOURNAL!!!

Here is just one example:

#homeopathy under threat because of lack of peer reviewed studies in respectable journals? Think again. Study published in the most prestigious journal Nature shows efficacy of rhus tox in pain control in rats.

But what exactly does this study show (btw, it was not published in ‘Nature’)?

The authors of the paper in question evaluated antinociceptive efficacy of Rhus Tox in the neuropathic pain and delineated its underlying mechanism. Initially, in-vitro assay using LPS-mediated ROS-induced U-87 glioblastoma cells was performed to study the effect of Rhus Tox on reactive oxygen species (ROS), anti-oxidant status and cytokine profile. Rhus Tox decreased oxidative stress and cytokine release with restoration of anti-oxidant systems. Chronic treatment with Rhus Tox ultra dilutions for 14 days ameliorated neuropathic pain revealed as inhibition of cold, warm and mechanical allodynia along with improved motor nerve conduction velocity (MNCV) in constricted nerve. Rhus Tox decreased the oxidative and nitrosative stress by reducing malondialdehyde (MDA) and nitric oxide (NO) content, respectively along with up regulated glutathione (GSH), superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase activity in sciatic nerve of rats. Notably, Rhus Tox treatment caused significant reductions in the levels of tumor necrosis factor (TNF-α), interleukin-6 (IL-6) and interleukin-1β (IL-1β) as compared with CCI-control group. Protective effect of Rhus Tox against CCI-induced sciatic nerve injury in histopathology study was exhibited through maintenance of normal nerve architecture and inhibition of inflammatory changes. Overall, neuroprotective effect of Rhus Tox in CCI-induced neuropathic pain suggests the involvement of anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory mechanisms.

END OF QUOTE

I am utterly under-whelmed by in-vitro experiments (which are prone to artefacts) and animal studies (especially those with a sample size of 8!) of homeopathy. I think they have very little relevance to the question whether homeopathy works.

But there is more, much more!

It has been pointed out that there are several oddities in this paper which are highly suspicious of scientific misconduct or fraud. It has been noted that the study used duplicated data figures that claimed to show different experimental results, inconsistently reported data and results for various treatment dilutions in the text and figures, contained suspiciously identical data points throughout a series of figures that were reported to represent different experimental results, and hinged on subjective, non-blinded data from a pain experiment involving just eight rats.

Lastly, others pointed out that even if the data is somehow accurate, the experiment is unconvincing. The fast timing differences of paw withdraw is subjective. It’s also prone to bias because the researchers were not blinded to the rats’ treatments (meaning they could have known which animals were given the control drug or the homeopathic dilution). Moreover, eight animals in each group is not a large enough number from which to draw firm conclusions, they argue.

As one consequence of these suspicions, the journal has recently added the following footnote to the publication:

10/1/2018 Editors’ Note: Readers are alerted that the conclusions of this paper are subject to criticisms that are being considered by the editors. Appropriate editorial action will be taken once this matter is resolved.

WATCH THIS SPACE!

16 Responses to Is the latest ‘proof’ of homeopathy fraudulent?

  • Junk research by junk scientists attempting to prove that which has been repeatedly disproven. Nothing to see here, move along folks.

    Might be fun to wait for a bit of yammering from Dana. Always amusing to watch him working himself into a masturbatory frenzy over these bits of published tripe.

  • I responded to the bluffer Ullmann’s braying tweet of this paper, to ask why he considered it worth waving. No response (he’s long since blocked me); perhaps he’ll show up here and explain…

  • Looks like homeopaths are’t even competent at being incompetent.

  • Waiting for Dana Ullman to follow up his triumphant comment of a couple of weeks ago. Not holding my breath.

  • As pointed out in today´s NATURE, biologist Enrico Bucci has discovered that senior author Chandragouda Patil has published dubious “research” before in 2016 (again, duplicated images). This indicates a extremely sloppy attitude towards his “research” or –more likely in my opinion- plain fraud.

    Quote:
    “Bucci says that he has also found that some of the authors of the study, including Patil, had written another paper published in Scientific Reports in 2016 that he says also contains inappropriately duplicated images. Patil says that these occurred while converting the figures to high resolution when the researchers submitted the manuscript to the journal.” https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-06967-0,

    Chandragouda Patil claims that his team has made unintentional mistakes while preparing the manuscript in both cases (finding excuses seems to be a habit of Mr. Patil).
    So that´s already two papers that contain seriously flawed or even falsified data.
    I have published close to 40 peer-reviewed papers as first- or coauthor (one also in Scientific Reports) and would be EXTREMELY embarrassed if even ONE of my papers would contain a single duplicated image, or false data in general.
    So in my opinion, duplicated data in already two papers of Mr. Patil clearly indicates misconduct, and I am quite certain that more flaws/fraud will be discovered in the “research” of Chandragouda Patil very soon.

  • […]while converting the figures to high resolution when the researchers submitted […]

    Were they potentising the pictures??

  • The two papers reported by Nature for this group are not the only to contain problematic data. There are more, which in some cases relate to topics different from homeopathy. An investigation is ongoing.

    • @ Enrico Bucci:
      Can you already say where the results of this investigation will be published?

      In my opinion, two scenarios are possible, both of which are not very flattering for Mr. Patil and coauthors:
      1. They were very sloppy and negligent when preparing & submitting their papers. From the steps (a) planning the research; (b) conducting the experiments; (c) analyzing the data; (d) writing the paper and finally (e) submitting the final manuscript to the journal, the submission is BY FAR the easiest step. So if the claim of Mr. Patil would be true and the authors were unable to cope with this simplest of all tasks, this immediately raises the question how reliably the lab work and data analysis could have been. Furthermore, if this scenario would be true, it is remarkable that the authors apparently didn´t even notice their very obvious mistakes after publication.

      2. The authors intentionally produced a fraudulent paper. In this case, I must say that they seem to be both, corrupted and dumb. Every first year student should today be able to generate more sophisticated falsified data.

      With this in mind, I find it very funny that Patil claims that the experiments were done “with utmost integrity”.

      • Well, I am not sure about when and where the final outcome of the investigation will appear. In similar situations, one has to strictly adhere to several policies regarding the public communication of the findings – which might be different for the involved institutions, the involved journals etc. I will do my best, however, to publish everything at the due time.

  • And more research animals wasted in the pursuit of a fantasy.

    • The sloppy science & sloppier presentation are what leapt out at me. The Scientific Reports/Nature editors should take a long & deep look at themselves, asking how this paper could ever pass Peer Review and get published.

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