Officials at the University of New South Wales said they were investigating
allegations concerning the science and data of an experimental cancer drug.
The skin cancer drug trial of the drug DZ13 -- hailed as super drug after mice
trials -- was suspended, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported exclusively.
DZ13 is a DNA enzyme which switches off the gene c-jun, a gene that is linked to
protein that causes cancer to grow. There were also hope the drug could go well
beyond cancer treatment -- with possibilities for treating age-related
blindness, heart disease and arthritis.
"Patient safety is the university's top priority. The decision was made to err
on the side of caution until concerns regarding some of the science underpinning
DZ13 have been resolved," a statement by the University of New South Wales to
the Australian Broadcasting Corp. said.
"It should be stressed that these concerns do not relate to either the conduct
of the trial or to the safety of the DZ13 compound."
Although two earlier investigations conducted by the university into allegations
against Professor Levon Khachigian and his team found no evidence of research
misconduct, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. said.
However, the current investigation was prompted by further concerns raised
separately by an eminent Australian scientist David Vaux that images in a paper
on DZ13, published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry in 2010, might have
Dr. Ying Morgan, one of the scientists who worked on the original research,
alleged some of the experiments on DZ13 were not carried out correctly and that
data had been misrepresented.
In early 2010, the university held a preliminary investigation into her concerns
and two months later the allegations were rejected.
However, she said she now believes the paper has serious irregularities and like
Vaux, she alleged crucial images in a paper published in the Journal of
Biological Chemistry in 2010 were misrepresented.