How important is it to reproduce cancer findings?

During NPR's Morning Edition on Jan. 19, science correspondent Richard Harris posed the question, “What Does It Mean When Cancer Findings Can't Be Reproduced?” The premise is simple: An experiment in one lab should be reproducible in another. However, results posted on eLife may be far-reaching — if science falters at one of its most basic requirements.

“Reproducibility is a central feature of how science is supposed to be,” said Brian Nosek, a psychology professor at the University of Virginia who lead the research at the Center for Open Science.

Nosek decided to explore the work from cancer biology labs after two high-profile studies, from drug makers Bayer and Amgen, reported dismal results when they tried to reproduce some cancer papers. Only 25 percent of the papers Bayer examined were reproduced. Amgen was able to replicate only six out of the 53 studies it examined.