Court dismisses libel action against pioneer in Alzheimer’s disease treatment

Xinhua

A Shanghai court dismissed a libel claim filed by a leading local scientist dedicated to the development of the first drug approved in China for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

Pudong New Area People’s Court rejected petition from Geng Meiyu, a researcher from the Shanghai Institute of Medical Materials, who asked Rao Yi, president of the Capital Medical University, to apologize publicly for “damaging his reputation.”

Geng had demanded a personal apology from Rao on his personal WeChat account as well as several major national newspapers for half a month.

However, the court ruled that “appropriate academic arguments and critiques should be allowed for the development of the medical sector.”

The lawsuit between the country’s two top medical scientists has attracted wide public attention because the dispute has focused on a major breakthrough in China’s medical development in recent decades.

Geng, from the local institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, has been dedicated to the development of GV-971 since 1997. The National Medical Products Administration has approved the drug for sale – the first for the treatment of disease. Alzheimer’s to be approved in 17 years – last year.

The results of the Mechanism of Action study were published in the international journal Cell Research in September 2019. It states that the drug, extracted from brown algae, works by modifying gut bacteria to ultimately reduce inflammation in the brain. in mice genetically engineered to have the disease.

Rao initially published articles against Geng’s research on several WeChat groups of the country’s leading medical scientists in November 2019. He claimed that Geng’s research results on GV-971 must be false and asked the Foundation China’s National Natural Sciences Institute to launch an investigation.

Rao then published his opinions against Geng’s research on cell research in July 2020, claiming that Geng’s article did not cite previous research findings on GV-971, which showed huge differences in effects and the mechanism of the drug.

Geng responded in the same journal a week later, arguing that previous studies were irrelevant for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and made no sense to be mentioned in his article.

The Ministry of Science and Technology announced after an investigation of five articles by Geng that “no academic fraud was detected, but some photos have been misused.” Geng and the co-authors must be educated, the ministry said in a January 2021 statement, reminding them of scientific integrity.

The Pudong court said that no legal restrictions or interference should be placed on medical research. The defendant published scientific evidence to back up his claims and did not intend to deliberately damage Geng’s reputation, he said.

“The judicial system should create a loose environment for academic criticism and encourage academic argument,” the court concluded.

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