Dr. Sylvain Lesné, fraudulent scientific researcher? "A neuroscience image sleuth finds signs of fabrication in scores of Alzheimer’s articles, threatening a reigning theory of the disease
by Paul Alexander
But Schrag’s sleuthing drew him into a different episode of possible misconduct, leading to findings that threaten one of the most cited Alzheimer’s studies of this century; no amyloid plaque?
Was all the Alzheimer research a fraud? Is the academic research arena a fraud? Is it what COVID told us it was? A fraud? Is this what academic research really is, just a ponzi ‘research granting’ money making scheme for leeches? Leeches with some letters behind their names, who figured out how to pimp and leech off the public and tax payer? Living cushiony lives on other people’s money, hidden in the university sitting rooms with their pipes, with the pretense that they are ‘researching’ and ‘discovering’, all the while essentially just created an industry for themselves with no aim of finding or discovering anything of worth? I think so and COVID has revealed the underbelly and truth, and this Dr. Sylvain Lesné, fraud Alzheimer researcher.
“Schrag, 37, a softspoken, nonchalantly rumpled junior professor, had already gained some notoriety by publicly criticizing the controversial FDA approval of the anti-Aβ drug Aduhelm. His own research also contradicted some of Cassava’s claims. He feared volunteers in ongoing Simufilam trials faced risks of side effects with no chance of benefit.
So he applied his technical and medical knowledge to interrogate published images about the drug and its underlying science—for which the attorney paid him $18,000. He identified apparently altered or duplicated images in dozens of journal articles. The attorney reported many of the discoveries in the FDA petition, and Schrag sent all of them to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which had invested tens of millions of dollars in the work. (Cassava denies any misconduct [see sidebar, below].)
But Schrag’s sleuthing drew him into a different episode of possible misconduct, leading to findings that threaten one of the most cited Alzheimer’s studies of this century and numerous related experiments.
The first author of that influential study, published in Nature in 2006, was an ascending neuroscientist: Sylvain Lesné of the University of Minnesota (UMN), Twin Cities. His work underpins a key element of the dominant yet controversial amyloid hypothesis of Alzheimer’s, which holds that Aβ clumps, known as plaques, in brain tissue are a primary cause of the devastating illness, which afflicts tens of millions globally. In what looked like a smoking gun for the theory and a lead to possible therapies, Lesné and his colleagues discovered an Aβ subtype and seemed to prove it caused dementia in rats. If Schrag’s doubts are correct, Lesné’s findings were an elaborate mirage.
Schrag, who had not publicly revealed his role as a whistleblower until this article, avoids the word “fraud” in his critiques of Lesné’s work and the Cassava-related studies and does not claim to have proved misconduct. That would require access to original, complete, unpublished images and in some cases raw numerical data. “I focus on what we can see in the published images, and describe them as red flags, not final conclusions,” he says. “The data should speak for itself.”