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Trial of experimental cancer drug suspended due to allegations



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 been genuine.

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.

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