Research Ethics Roundup: Cancer patients left untreated in Indian trials, new evidence that mice may be a poor model for human disease, and much more!

Though there’s still snow on the ground across much of the country, baseball fans celebrated the start of Spring Training this week, signaling that warm weather is just around the corner. If you’re looking to get “ahead in the count” of your professional development, take a crack at this week’s Research Ethics Roundup.

Ethics of 2 U.S.-funded cancer studies in India questioned: Two separate U.S.-funded studies of cervical cancer in India are the subject of growing controversy. Researchers conducting the study neglected to screen members of the control group for cervical cancer and failed to obtain adequate informed consent from all those enrolled in the trial. According to this article, at least 79 of the women from the control arms of these studies have died from complications relating to cervical cancer.

Mice fall short as test subjects for humans’ deadly ills: A new study suggests that mice do not provide a good model for researching certain human conditions, such as sepsis and burns. This finding may have significant implications, as mice are heavily relied upon for preliminary drug testing. According to this article from the New York Times, “years and billions of dollars have been wasted following false leads.”

Redefine misconduct as distorted reporting: This article from Nature posits that the research community should redefine misconduct as “any omission or misrepresentation of the information necessary and sufficient to evaluate the validity and significance of research, at the level appropriate to the context in which the research is communicated.” Requiring researchers to be more transparent about their techniques and findings may provide a fairer method of curbing the unsettling proliferation of misconduct within the field.

Unethical stem cells?
: According to a review of  human embryonic stem cell (hESC) lines approved by the National Institutes of Health, 49 stem cell lines currently in use may have been “derived from sperm or egg donors who did not give proper consent for the use of their biological material in research.”

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