As a “world sensation from Germany” has been touted in February, a blood test for breast cancer, developed by doctors at the University hospital of Heidelberg. Two months later, the state’s attorney. It comes to financial entanglements-and-dirty machinations. Oh, Yes, the Test itself is good for nothing yet.
It would be nice to know what Christof Sohn thinks about the development of the last few weeks. However, the head of the women’s clinic of the University hospital in Heidelberg is silent. The recognized gynecology Professor does not to the current allegations, yet he allowed the Public a glimpse into his feelings in the midst of a scandal, as he at a University clinic.
Everything started out so well at 21. February. In front of a large audience, the Team presented to Christof son a blood test, the chest could detect cancer in a very early stage, and this year, ready for the market would be. (Information on the Test see the box below)
“Image” proclaims world-sensation from Germany first
On the same day, the “image already swarmed” by the “world-sensation from Germany. Blood test detects breast cancer!“ A large photo of son, framed by gynaecologist Sarah Schott and molecular biologist Tania Witte Tobar.
Also a lot of other media, including FOCUS Online, reported by the presentation and the impressive cancer test, but the “image” had the exclusive Pre-access to the Heidelberg scientific.
On the full-bodied PR-appearance of cancer researchers and various professional societies, with critics reacted first. None of the presented study results had been previously in a scientific publication published – something learning do not belong under the reputable science.
Many cancer researchers are equally skeptical
More serious, however, was the lack of evidence for the Use of the Tests, as well as statements about the inaccuracy of the blood tests. He was by no means a diagnosis as reliable as a mammogram and produced in clinical studies of up to 30 percent false-positive Cancer. The “medical journal” quoted the Secretary-General of the German cancer society, John Brun: “The idea is great, to speak at the present time, of a breakthrough, but it is much too early.”
The University of Heidelberg saw its international excellent reputation, especially in the field of cancer research, is in danger and apologized for the hasty PR-action to an immature blood test, and for the false hope that was awakened by it.
Of market maturity in the course of this year, Professor’s son no longer wanted to talk to you soon. For the FOCUS-cover story “We will conquer cancer” from 23. In March, he said: “We propagate the Test, as long as we have him evaluated.” The Test also had to Mature so far that it could apply to any laboratory. Thereafter, a further, larger test courses on its reliability is needed. All in all, this could take up to two years.
Research financial commitment = conflict of interest?
There was also already become known that the gynecologist also has a financial interest in the success of the blood tests. Because its development and marketing was Heiscreen, a so-called spin-off company of the University. Unusually, such a Uni-branch, with commercial objectives. You are to bring developments in the universities from the labs into practice and monetize. To Heiscreen Christof Sohn holds a share of five percent, as the “Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung” wrote. At a partner company that will bring the Test in China on the market, was he also involved in. Also his research partner, Sarah Schott, own shares in the company. Many science colleagues see this as a case of conflict of interests.
Criminal complaint the University of Heidelberg, due to “unfair practices”
Then, as now, the presumption arose that the Test had been developed in truth by other scientists as the Team son, namely, the Heidelberg researchers, Rongxi Yang, from China, attacked the University of Heidelberg to sharper means. She reported on the 4. April, a complaint against unknown because of “unfair practices”.
The Prosecutor’s office in Heidelberg examined for nearly a week, if a suspicion is confirmed and whether a criminal offence had been committed. “The ad was very vague,” said spokesman Jonathan Waldschmidt on request by FOCUS Online. 10. April, the Mannheim public Prosecutor’s office has taken over the process. That is where the greater economy is to be pursued offences. To further approach the state attorney Isa Böhmer, FOCUS Online enquiry wanted to make but no information. First, it must be decided whether a formal investigation is opened.
Spin-off Heiscreen in the visor
Whether Heiscreen in fact, the results of the research of the, in the meantime, according to China returned scientist Rongxi Yang under the nail has broken, you must now be in Mannheim clarified. Also, why a spin-off of the Chinese failed, they had, according to the “mirror” of a Foundation scholarship of the German Federal Ministry for economic Affairs. Then Christof’s son came up with Heiscreen to the train.
The University of Heidelberg is now trying, the pieces of the scandal in your house aufzukehren. Even before the criminal complaint, the University decided to appoint an external Commission of experts for the elucidation of the processes in your house. Matthias Kehrer, the President of the Leibniz society, the body currently.
Damage to the reputation of the researchers, at the University of Heidelberg, and the science
While the Public is disappointed that, once again, a much heralded cancer-Innovation can not meet their promises, rocked the scientific community, that is a sensitive area of research into disrepute is advised: the Transfer of University research results into practice and marketing.
In order to do better, to be spin-offs such as Heiscreen promoted for some time by the Federal and state ministries for research. The fight against cancer is to be strengthened. The operations in Heidelberg, Germany have demonstrated this Effort a disservice – not to mention the damage to the reputation of the hitherto irreproachable Heidelberg doctors.
The Test is one of a series of “Liquid Biopsies” (liquid biopsies). In body fluids, especially in the blood to be searched, cancer traces. The discovery is much earlier than any other diagnostic method.
The method of liquid biopsy is therefore regarded worldwide as the great hope for an extremely early diagnosis of cancer. However, the prediction accuracy is not yet reliable. This is also the main criticism of the Heidelberg Test: He was presented to the Public much too early, as the market maturity method.
The researchers from Heidelberg have identified 15 biomarkers for breast cancer, by which in a few drops of blood the first indications of malignant tumor cells can be detected.
The Test is intended primarily for younger women in whom the suspicion for an increased risk of breast cancer.