Professor Levon Khachigian is a medical research scientist at the University of New South Wales (UNSW). He was under investigation for misconduct during research on trials of a skin cancer drug going by the name of DZ13. He was also suspended for 2 years with full pay whilst the investigation was ongoing. Professor Khachigian has been cleared of these allegations after the completion of an investigation by UNSW (his employer).
According to the ABC the UNSW has defended their handling of the allegations into the case. Two whistleblowers have told the ABC that they didn’t get to give their full details of the account.
This from Professor David Vaux;
"I thought the goal of the investigation was to come to the truth and the whole truth but the panel told me that they wouldn't hear my concerns about many of the issues and they were constrained by the very narrow terms of reference set by the university."
David Vaux found images from 3 papers were duplicated and these papers were retracted by the authors and were said to be mistakes. He then found more images from a paper focusing on the DZ13 drug that were suspect. This was more pressing to him because human trials were starting.
This from Dr. Ying Morgan;
"I haven't been interviewed and I was not able to put all my evidence[forward] about what happened to the panel,"
Dr. Morgan alleged that ‘some of the experiments on DZ13 were not carried out correctly and that data had been misrepresented.’ Dr. Morgan also revealed that her work on the drug showed that it worked for the first 20 days then stopped working only for the tumour to grow back. Her experiment showing it only lasted 20 days was not being used. Dr. Morgan’s contract ended in 2009 and was not renewed.
According to Dr. Sarah Gregson of UNSW ‘the process of organisations investigating themselves needs to be examined’.
Professor Brian Martin from the University of Wollongong suggests that allegations involving misconduct within research are becoming more common with the most concerns relating to conflict of interests.
The interesting situation here is that according to the US patent office Professor Levon Khachigian has 12 applications for patents, with 12 granted for his invention. The original assignee for the patent of this invention is NewSouth Innovations (NSi) which is the commercialisation company at UNSW. NSi are responsible for the protection and management of Intellectual property developed at UNSW. This is an excerpt from the abstract of the patents;
‘The present invention provides a method of preventing or reducing restenosis, neointima formation, graft failure, atherosclerosis, angiogenesis [and/or solid tumor growth in a subject]’
This has got to be a conflict of interest similar to Paul “for profit” Offit who made millions from Philadelphia children hospitals sale of its interest in a vaccine. Paul Offit was also on the Advisory Committee of Immunisation Practises (ACIP) from 1998 t0 2003 which recommended vaccines for children. He is also a heavy promoter of vaccines once saying that “an infant can receive up to 10,000 vaccines at once”. His story can be read here.
So always question, follow the money trail, and look for hidden motives even if a person is a trusted expert in their field.