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Cancer studies get mixed grades on redo tests

Replication attempts can’t confirm five high-profile findings

4:42pm, January 18, 2017
doing experiments

RESEARCH REDO Scientists repeated some important cancer biology studies, but didn’t always get the same answers. The replication experiments may help explain why some results don’t stand up to scrutiny.

An effort to reproduce findings of five prominent cancer studies has produced a mixed bag of results.

In a series of papers published January 19 in eLife, researchers from the Reproducibility Project: Cancer Biology report that none of five prominent cancer studies they sought to duplicate were completely reproducible. Replicators could not confirm any of the findings of one study. In other cases, replicators saw results similar to the original study’s, but statistical analyses could not rule out that the findings were a fluke. Problems with mice or cells used in two experiments prevented the replicators from confirming the findings.

“Reproducibility is hard,” says Brian Nosek, executive director of the Center for Open Science in Charlottesville, Va., an organization that aims to increase the reliability of science. It’s too early to draw any conclusions about the overall dependability of cancer studies,

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