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Has Ruscetti Ever Got It Wrong?

Discussion in 'XMRV Research and Replication Studies' started by Persimmon, Jun 20, 2011.

  1. Persimmon

    Persimmon Senior Member

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    Many of us have learnt over the last couple of years that the scientists working on XMRV are a diverse lot. Some are loud and argumentative; some are cautious and speak seldom, with carefully chosen words. Some have track records that include papers that turned out to be later to be flawed.

    I'd be pessimistic if Judy was the only scientist still arguing for the association between ME/CFS & XMRV/MLV. However, Frank Ruscetti still seems to strongly believe in the association.

    I'm mindful that Frank Ruscetti has a stellar track record. He also has a very strong background in retroviruses, and is married to a woman who has extensive research experience in murine retroviruses. Further, he gives the impression of being a cautious, feet-firmly-on-the-ground sort of person: no flamboyant or acerbic comments; no wild speculations or rash conclusions...

    Hence my question: does anyone know if Frank Ruscetti has ever published a paper that's turned out to be wrong?
    (I don't mean - has he ever researched a theory that hasn't turned out; I mean, has he ever put his name to a paper which has later been shown to have simply got the science wrong & drawn false conclusions?)
  2. VillageLife

    VillageLife Senior Member

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    I personally can not believe that the guy that isolated the first human retrovirus is not being given more credit now he has found xmrv.

    Are people crazy !! The world needs to wake up. This guy is a genius.
  3. Daffodil

    Daffodil Senior Member

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    but we have equally big shot people on the other side....coffin is as big as they get, isnt he?
  4. Jemal

    Jemal Senior Member

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    There's a few superstars (in their field) on both sides of the argument, which makes it a difficult situation. Both the Lipkin and BWG studies have the potential to break the deadlock.

    I have no idea if Ruscetti's track record is flawless by the way. I think he enjoys a lot of respect though.
  5. Esther12

    Esther12 Senior Member

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    Ruscetti does seem really bright, and I'm interested to hear his response to all the recent contamination work.

    He's always been hedging his bets though, and not been as outspoken or confident about XMRV/CFS as Mikovits. One of the reasons that I've been impressed with him is that he always seems to be trying to look for and appreciate area where the science and evidence is uncertain.
  6. ukxmrv

    ukxmrv Senior Member

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    I don't think he has been hedging his bets or showing signs of not being confident about XMRV, Esther.

    At one of the conferences he said that he was moving on with the virus, so it just is a personal style rather than lack of confidence. Ruscetti wants to get on with further science and he doesn't want to waste his time arguing with the deniers.

    He was reported as being very happy and confident with MLV's at the Belgium patient Symposium.
  7. Persimmon

    Persimmon Senior Member

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    As Jemal points out, there are certainly high-caliber researchers (ok, "superstars") on both sides of the debate. Some are going to be proved wrong.

    Some famous researchers have got it wrong in the past: some have published findings that later turned out to be incorrect; some have made predictive statements/claims that later proved incorrect; some have made poor misjudgements within their lab.

    Dr Robert Gallo's known to have made some terrible judgement calls in the lab, and to have made some outlandish public statements. I seem to recall that Dr Jay Levy got it completely wrong with one paper he published on AIDS, and that he's made public predictions that have proved inaccurate. If you were exposed to the writings or interviews of Dr Coffin in 2009, you would have been led to strongly presume that the XMRV-ME/CFS link was valid; if you give heed to his 2011 writings/comments, you'd strongly presume the contrary.

    I'm not trying to be disrespectful. What I'm getting at is that some highly successful researchers are more cautious than others, and I'm simply pondering whether Dr Ruscetti, who seems highly cautious, has a perfect track record of accuracy. I'd be equally interested to learn more about the track records (in terms of accuracy) of the other leading researchers in the field.
  8. Esther12

    Esther12 Senior Member

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    I'd forgotten he said something like that, but it's coming back now.

    It could well be that I'm expecting more of a debate, when science is more about collecting your own evidence rather than engaging with the work of others. I'd still be interested in hearing Ruscetti's response to the negative/contamination studies.
  9. omerbasket

    omerbasket Senior Member

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    I'm not sure. I don't say that he is't, but I'm saying that I'm not sure. That is because:
    1) I don't know of any studies about HUMAN DISEASES/HUMAN VIRUSES that he has done (and especially, studies that have yielded important results). Correct me if I'm wrong here (and giving examples would be great...). I do, however, get the impression - and again, I could be wrong and tell me if you think I am (and try to explain why) - that he likes to be the judge on many things, that he sees himself as one of a small number of people in the jury, that would give the verdict. That is because I remember reading an article about HIV which was done, I think, at least 20 years ago - where he (and others) were interviewed (and where he was advocating for HIV as the cause of AIDS - ofcourse today we know that he was right about that). And here, 20-25 years afterwards, he again acts like the judge.
    2) If I'm not mistaken (and correct me if I am), Coffin's main work is about MLVs. That sort of brings up the question why 20 years or more ago he saw himself as one of the jury about HIV, but that's not what I want to talk about. So, anyway, it seems that his field of work was focused in animal retroviruses, and I doubt that this field is subjected to the same amount of skepticism and need-for-validation, or even getting close to it, as the parallel field in humans. Therefore, exactly like he said that the WPI/NCI paper needs to be validated, we cannot know if he was right about his findings without them being validated. I didn't check if they were - but it is my feeling that in studies about animals there is not that amount of validation that is needed, because it's just animals. Moreover: Again, If I'm not mistaken - and again, correct me if I am - Coffin is one of those - or perhaps THE one - that got people to believe that xenotropic viruses does not infect mice. In a study published, I think this year, by other researchers - they have shown that many strains of wild mice, as well as some strains of laboratory mice, CAN be infected with xenotropic MLVs, and actually, the xentoropic MLVs were even more successful at infecting them than the polytropic MLVs. So - him studying a field that does not have the need for as much validation as the human field, combined with his mistake about xenotropic MLVs, brings up the question: Why is he compared to scientists who were co-discoverers of HTLV-1 and isolated HTLV-1 (Dr. Francis Ruscetti), and to scientists who discovered Hepatitis C and afterwards the Hepatitis C virus, and were also co-discoverers of the Australian antigen, a discovery that led to the discovery of the Hepatitis B virus (Dr. Alter)? Perhaps it is because he is speaking everywhere and everytime, and is getting to present his opinion as if it is the word of the person who knows it all? About all of what I've written - correct me if I'm wrong, because it is just my own impression and I didn't investigate the matter even close to well-enough in order to say those things with even something that is closed to certainty.

    Currently, I think that the only name in the "contamination theory" studies that can compete with Dr. Ruscetti and Dr. Alter is the name of Dr. Levy.

    However: Names doesn't mean much. You could be a great scientist and be wrong about something, and a bad scientist and be right about something. What it does mean, however, is that when you are hearing things from people like Dr. Ruscetti and Dr. Alter, people who have great discoveries done by them, and who seems to not have made curcial mistakes in the past - it would seem that it's worth listening for them, that they have shown for many years that what they are saying is many times of a significant importance.

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