Science  03 Aug 2001:
Vol. 293, Issue 5531, pp. 777

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  1. Indian Trial Troubles Hopkins

    Still reeling from a government-ordered shutdown of clinical research on its Baltimore, Maryland, campus (Science, 27 July, p. 587), Johns Hopkins University has run into a new furor over a project in southern India. The university announced this week that it has “directed” a faculty member “to cease all activities related to” research on an anticancer drug, after learning from news media of “serious allegations about the conduct of” a clinical trial last year at the Regional Cancer Center (RCC) in the state of Kerala.

    According to media reports, RCC radiobiologist R. V. Bhattathiri raised questions about a trial led by Hopkins biologist Ru Chih Huang and RCC director Krishnan Nausing that is testing the use of tetramethyl NGDA to treat oral cancer. Bhattathiri told Science that he had alleged that 25 patients did not give proper informed consent, did not receive timely standard therapy, and were exposed to a potentially toxic substance. Indian officials are investigating.

    Hopkins learned of the trial in March—and of the allegations on 16 July. It says its researcher reported that Indian authorities had approved the trial and that patients gave informed consent. But so far the school has found no record that the trial was approved by Hopkins officials or by the university's Institutional Review Board, which reviews clinical trials. It's not known whether the project received U.S. funding. Hopkins has appointed a three-member panel of experts “to develop the facts.”

  2. SOLEIL Protestors Prevail

    The French government has backed away from plans to privatize a new materials research center after protests from scientists. Earlier this year, the researchers briefly shut down two instruments to dramatize their opposition to a plan to operate the new SOLEIL synchrotron as a private nonprofit (Science, 23 March, p. 2293). The plan made it easier for other nations to participate in the project, but harder for the French scientists to move between jobs at government research centers.

    Under a deal reached last week, the researchers—known as “Lurons” because they work at the LURE research center in Orsay —can choose between working for a public or private employer. Either way, most of LURE's 280 staff members are expected to join the SOLEIL's 350-strong payroll by the time the machine starts operations in 2005.