Showing posts from July, 2020

Scientific research is grey

A key reason why flaws and deceit are rampant in research is that there are no straightforward yes/no answers to all studies. A few decades back, in the early 1990s, there was compelling evidence that beta-carotene protected against cancer. Laboratory studies, animal studies, observational studies – everything was in favour of this antioxidant found in fruits and vegetables. Many scientists themselves took beta-carotene supplements. Then came three large clinical trials that were conducted on heavy smokers and asbestos workers, and the beta-carotene hypothesis crumbled. The trials concluded that not only beta-carotene failed to protect against cancer, but also increased its risk for some patients. Statins have an opposite story. The USFDA warns on statin labels that they may cause memory loss. But a recently-concluded six-year study led by Syndey’s Garvan Institute of Medical Research reveals no link between the two.   Who and what do you believe? And can we, or

Scientific research is not flawless; nor are the researchers

In these days of the COVID-19 pandemic, scientific research has been a source of much hope – the search for a vaccine, trials for preventive medication, surveys suggesting herd immunity in people, and so on. There is also contradictory information to crush our euphoria (no herd immunity, vaccines to take long, promising pills ineffective, et al ). It is difficult to decide which side of the story is true, especially since scientific research is a complex discipline based on several volatile variables. I intend to dwell on some of these variables in my upcoming posts, as they are also an underlying theme in my maiden medical thriller ‘The AquilaTrials.’   I’ll begin by emphasizing that the significance of clinical research as a methodical science to discover new treatments is indisputable. Randomized controlled trials are considered the gold standard of evidence. Yet, as any other field, pharmaceutical research is fraught with errors, omissions – and frauds – especially as the noble

Releasing 'The Aquila Trials'

It’s finally out! My maiden novel ‘The Aquila Trials’ has been a dream in the making for more than twenty years. Well, sort of. At the end of the last millennium, when I was interviewing HIV specialists, LGBTQ activists, AIDS patients, and pharmacists before the launch of an antiretroviral drug of a pharmaceutical company, I had not the faintest idea that my interactions with them were sowing the germ of an idea that would later materialize in the form of a novel. In the years in between, I became a marketing communications professional who secretly dreamt of conducting groundbreaking scientific research in a white lab coat, with beakers, funnels, and flasks. (Funny, how my protagonist had the exact opposite fantasy.)    During my career break after two kids, I began writing what was originally intended to be a short story, but over the months, ideas and information kept coming my way, and before long, I was thoroughly steeped in all things ‘pharma.’ Today my dream has materialized vi