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Issues From the Start

A German university found evidence that a researcher who developed a controversial blood test for breast cancer committed scientific misconduct, according to Science. It adds that the researcher, Heidelberg University Hospital's Christof Sohn, petitioned a court to block the release of the university's report.

As GenomeWeb reported in March the German molecular diagnostics company HeiScreen announced it was developing a liquid biopsy-based test to detect breast cancer based on work out of Heidelberg. The company claimed the test had a sensitivity of between 80 percent and 90 percent and would be of particular use to women under the age of 50 with high familial risk of breast cancer. But as GenomeWeb reported, some researchers were skeptical about the company's claims and wanted more data, especially about its specificity.

According to Science, some of these claims were contradicted by data Sohn presented at a scientific conference, which included that the test had a specificity of 45 percent to 73 percent.

Heidelberg conducted both an internal and external investigation into the matter and found evidence of "extensive and severe scientific misconduct" by Sohn, Science reports. It adds the new report from a university commission indicated before it was taken down that that there were scientific issues "from the beginning of the research on the blood test, and since then continuously."