Amgen Set to Tackle Reproducibility Crisis

The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE, February 4, 2016 | Go to article overview

Amgen Set to Tackle Reproducibility Crisis


Drug company launches platform for studies that try to replicate results. David Matthews reports

A major pharmaceutical company is launching a new platform for the publication of experiments that attempt to replicate previous research in a bid to tackle the "reproducibility crisis" in science.

In 2012, Amgen alarmed the scientific world by revealing that it had been able to reproduce the results of only six out of 53 "landmark" cancer studies. This confirmed similar, worrying findings from German drug company Bayer released the previous year.

Launched on 4 February, the Preclinical Reproducibility and Robustness channel is on the F1000Research publishing platform, which is open access and invites peer review after publication.

Bruce Alberts (pictured right), a prominent biochemist at the University of California, San Francisco and former editor-in-chief of Science, said it would be a home for replication attempts that were often shunned by journals.

"One of the problems with science is that there's a bias against publishing [studies] to reproduce" results, said Dr Alberts, who is helping to promote the channel.

So far, in-house attempts to reproduce results by drug companies had not generally been made public, he explained. The first papers published on the channel are three replication studies by California-based Amgen - which all fail to confirm the results of previous experiments.

The inability to reproduce results has been blamed on a number of factors, from statistically underpowered studies to the post-hoc manipulation of data.

Some have criticised high-profile journals like Science for exacerbating the reproducibility problem by claiming they demand novel, positive and media-friendly results, which can create pressures to come up with a certain outcome. …

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