The “false negative COVID results” of Lanzhou Nucleus Gene Huaxi pulled by the Shenzhen-based nucleic acid testing company and its actual controller Zhang Hezi from behind the scenes to the front and center. This company, relying on transformations to carry out nucleic acid testing in China, expanded rapidly during the pandemic. Until now the company has carried out nucleic acid testing in over 45 cities across the country conducting a total of over 700 million tests. The company currently has an IPO on the agenda.
Nucleus Gene and the territory and wealth after the radical expansion of its empire ignited some of the great emotion behind the pandemic’s prevention. In addition to recent reports concerning many violations and penalties, an iFeng media channel reported that there was academic misconduct in publishing the research results of the same project in Chinese and English papers by the company, and the support funds it received also fell into question.
According to Chinese information gateway website CNKI, Zhang Hezi published 23 papers in several medical journals and conferences before and after the establishment of Nucleus Gene, mostly on topics such as intestinal cancer, oral cancer and gene sequencing. Among them, three papers, “Exploring Immune-Related Prognostic Factors in Tumor Microenvironment of Colon Cancer Based on TCGA and GEO Database”, “Constructing Prognostic Model of Colon Cancer Based on TCGA and GEO Database” and “Research Progress of Single Cell Sequencing Method”, were jointly written by Cao Lichao, Zhang Hezi and Ba Ying (wife of Zhang Hezi).
However, there is also an English paper “Exploring Immune-Related Prognostic Signatures in the Tumor Microenvironment of Colon Cancer” (received on October 25, 2021 and published on February 24, 2022), which is highly similar to the abovementioned Chinese paper (received on October 17, 2021 and published on June 14, 2022)
Comparing the research contents, research methods and conclusions of the two papers, and even the data charts inserted in the papers, they all show high similarity, but some sample details are different, and the paper in English is relatively brief.
The report mentioned that an expert in genetic medicine from a 3A hospital, who did not want to be named, said after reading the papers, “Strictly speaking, it is called duplication, which means it was published repeatedly. The conclusions of the research project, data charts and research methods are very similar, which should be suspected of academic misconduct.”
In addition, these two highly similar papers show that they have received different project funding. The English paper indicates that it has been supported by key science and technology projects in China’s Shaanxi Province and the National Natural Science Foundation of China, while the Chinese version shows that it has received special financial support for sustainable development in Shenzhen.
However, paradoxically, it is unable to verify that the Chinese version of the paper is marked with “deep scientific and technological innovation” funding. In terms of funding from Shenzhen Science and Technology Commission, the project number, research field and reporting unit found from public information do not correspond to the information marked by nuclear genes on CNKI.
Besides, in order to expand the “empire territory,” thousands of gene detection projects have been developed by Nucleus Gene. Similar to gift gene testing, the company’s gene testing business has many names, covering almost all groups of people, including infants, pregnant women, women, white-collar workers and the elderly.
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