Tag Archives: pseudoscience

Tylsin huijaus Oulusta: Rohtos Oy Detoxformula

UPDATE 13.7.2017: Eikä olekaan tylsä tapaus, viranomaiset tutkivat sitä juuri nyt.
2.8.2017: FIMEA antoi lausunnon, jonka mukaan Eviran pitäisi puuttua myyntiin.

“Isänmaallinen” verkkolehti Uusi Suomi kertoi eilen Rohtos Oy-nimisen startup-yrityksen valmistamasta uudenlaisesta krapulapillerista. Oululainen firma perustettiin 9 kk sitten Luova Nutraceuticals Oy:nä. Sen toimiala on “Lääketeollisuus”.

Toimitusjohtaja Marko Petteri Mäkinen esintyy jutussa sopivasti valkoisessa takissa, vaikka hänellä ei ole alan kokemusta tai koulutusta. Hän on pyörinyt samassa osoitteessa muutamia pikkufirmoja, mm. LionEar Oy ja Professional Audio Company Finland Oy.

us-rohtos

Toinen perustajista on Sasu-Kimmo Aleksis Ripatti, joka on lehden mukaan “itseoppinut biohakkeroinnin eli ihmiskehon optimoinnin tuntija”. Hänet tunnetaan paremmin taiteilijanimellään Vladislav Delay. Muusiikko sai viime vuonna Pohjois-Pohjanmaan ja Kainuun taidepalkkinnon, eli 5000€ veikkausrahaa.

vladislav-delay

Kaksikko otti mukaan kollegan, joka on “koulutukseltaan biokemisti”, saadakseen heti TEKES-avustuksen. Se oli vain 6200€, koska firma pääsi kaupparekisteriin vasta Marraskuun 2016 puolivälissä. Perinteisesti TEKES maksaa Oululais”startup”-yrityksille reilumpia summia, jotta firma jäisi hetkeksi pystyyn.

luova-tekes

Värikkäästä taustasta huolimatta firman tuote on varsin tylsä. Se on tavallinen “Detox”-, eli huijauspilleri. Tutkimustuloksia ei ole, johon terveysväitteet voisivat perustua. Sitä ei tarvita saadakseen TEKES-rahaa ja maksutonta mainontaa Uudessa Suomessa. Firma ilmeisesti arvioi, että alkoholisteillekin tuotetta voi myydä ilman todisteita.

Verkkomyynnissä oleva pilleri sisältää sekoituksen “synteettisiä valmisteita että luonnon rohdoksia ja vitamiineja”. Jutussa mainitaan NAC eli N-Acetylcystein. Pörssiyhtiö BioHit Oy, joka harrastaa muutenkin kyseenalaista toimintaa, myy jo useiden vuosien ajan Acetium-kapseleitaan. Ne sisältävät L-Cysteiniä, joka on NAC:n lähisukulainen, ja niitä käytetään jo pitkään “krapulan helpottamiseen“. NAC on käytössä myös akuutisen Paracetamol-myrkytyksen hoidossa.

Uuden Suomen-artikkelissa puhuu alkoholitutkija Peter Eriksson. Tieteellisesti oikein hän sanoo, ettei ole täysin mahdotonta, että pillerillä olisi jonkinlainen myönteinen vaikutus. Olemattoman asian olemattomuus ei voi todistaa, siksi ei voi tätä sulkea pois. Lehti tekee siitä “ekspertin lausuma”, jonka mukaan tuote voisi oikeasti toimia. Erikssonin olisi pitänyt tietää, ettei toimittajiin voi luottaa, jos on kyse isänmaallisestä huijauksesta.

Kun verrataan muihin Oululaishuijauksiin, esim. ASMO-turvalaturiin tai vaikka Valkee-korvavaloon, tämä on varsin tylsä huijaus. Lehtijutulla oli jo myönteinen vaikutus valmistajalle: Tuote on tilapäisesti loppunut Rohtos Labs-kaupasta.

detoxformula

New HumanCharger study, old trick: Predatory publication

Here we go again: The finnish earlight maker Valkee Ltd has published its next study of their HumanCharger device. This time, it’s about neurotransmitters and proteins in “transcranially illuminated” mouse brain.

 

The article is published in the “open access” Journal of Neurology Research. The journal is published by Elmer Press, a canadian predatory Publisher.

jnrnew6

There are several Valkee/HumanCharger papers in questionable journals, so this is no surprise. Again, no real peer-reviewed publication wanted the finnish pseudoscience in its pages.

elmeri-funding

The scam company (here called “Valkee Inc.”) is listed as study sponsor, and most of the authors are related to Valkee. Interestingly, professor Timonen is not listed as a shareholder – that may have been “forgotten” to declare, or he really sold his stake.

The paper itself is just another junk article in a fake journal, but there are implications for the institute of professor Seppo Saarela at the University of Oulu, which oversaw this “research”. University funding is partially based on scientific publications, and a predatory article actually means a financial loss for the department.

A junk paper is counted with -90% (article worth x 0,1) according to present university law. Classification is done by the Publication Forum maintained by Finland’s learned societies. At the moment, the “Journal of Neurology Research” has not been classified officially by the institution. That’s possibly a reason why Valkee’s researchers did submit the paper to Elmer Press.

The main reason,  however, is that naive customers and investors can be fooled with another article. The paper cannot be found via standard database searches like PubMed/MedLine, so the results are unavailable and lost for the scientific community.

That may be a problem also for its main author, which got a 24.000€ grant (PDF p.37) from the Alfred Kordelin Foundation to produce a thesis on “Earlight effects on light-sensitive proteins in rodents’ brains”.

flyktman-vedatys

Finnish “innovation agency” leader: Evolution is a question of belief

…those are the oldest brain areas, if you believe that the brain has developed evolutionary, in a way […] depending to who you listen to

This (and other stunning announcements) is from an interview* by Timo Ahopelto, a lead strategist5006-512 at Finland’s tax-financed innovation funding agency TEKES. Many of his companies received TEKES funding5006-512 – including the ill-fated Valkee Ltd5006-512.

Ahopelto has made antivax statements5006-512 and often uses crude war- and propaganda rhetoric5006-512, especially against critics. Another incredible demonstration of what – or who – is possible in Finland, with the right connections and political support.

*at 27:55 in the SmartDrugsSmart podcast, MP3 download here 5006-512.

Suomeksi:

nuo ovat aivojen vanhimmat osat, jos uskot että aivot kehittyivät evolutionäärisesti, [se tavallaan] riippuu siitä, keneltä kysyt

Russian TB Quacks at the University of Eastern Finland

This blog will now also take on quackery and fraud in Finland’s academic system.

 

Bizarre “innovation” for western healthcare

Photonics Finland and Kuopio Innovation held a “Photonics for Healthcare” event on 14 Sep 2016, at the Spa Hotel Kunnonpaikka near Kuopio. The University of Eastern Finland (UEF) is a member of Photonics Finland, and their Institute of Photonics provided support and speakers for the event.

Here is, what russian researchers from the UEF had to tell about their “innovative treatment for tuberculosis”.

Download PDF: Ultraviolet laser improved for human treatment
by Slava (Viatcheslav) Vanyukov and Vadim Kiyko

The researchers claimed to be affilatiated with the University of Eastern Finland (Kuopio), the company HyperMemo OY (Joensuu, Finland) and the ITMO University (St. Petersburg, Russia). Vanyukov completed his thesis at the UEF in 2015, and Kiyko is also announced as an UEF person.

 uv-laser_improved-treatment

The first tests to treat Tuberculosis with laser beams were done in the Soviet Union, and then Russia, in the early 1990s.

Like the chemist-turned quack guru Linus Pauling, the late russian nobelist A.M. Prokhorov aimed to become an alternative healer. The highly decorated founder of laser theory began to stick lasers into severely ill cancer and tuberculosis patients, with a “see what happens” approach. He was one of the founders of the “lasers for everything” movement.

prokhorov-laser

The method spread to India, and was subsequently used in thousands of “volunteers” in Russia and, mainly, rural India. Although many patients could barely read, even children were exposed to the experimental method.

The idea is to kill the TB bacteria at the spot. The laser light is given by an optic fiber inserted into the TB cavity, puncturing the skin, pleura, and other structures in its way.
Actual photo from India:

tb-laser_2-application

Typically, such a presentation would cite scientific studies which support the treatment.
– This is what the russian UEF researchers present.

exams-report

Untranslated, russian technical papers with “official stamps”. And even this is a fake: the left paper is from the long-void registration of an obsolete device. The other is a letter of recommendation with a stamp from the Blagovestshensk, far-east science center, physiology and pathology, siberian branch of the russian academy of medical sciences.

After 25 years of research, this is all they have to show. “Hey Vasya, we need some nice-looking papers for the presentation in Finland. They can’t read it anyway!”

Actually, the method has been tested in India by doctors who visited the russian centers in the early 1990s. There have been a number of trials, which do not meet basic ethical and quality standards. A 2006 Cochrane review found only one poorly reported study, whose author could not be located anymore. It concluded:

The use of low level laser therapy for treating tuberculosis is still not supported by reliable evidence. Researchers need to focus on conducting well-designed randomized controlled trials to justify the continued participation of volunteers for studies of this experimental intervention.

The recruitment into these low-standard studies alone was deemed to be unethical already 10 years ago. Nevertheless, the questionable trials went on, without any demonstration of benefit or harm. The newest was published in 2015. One earlier trial, published in 2010, used such a simplified treatment device (actual photo):

tb-laser_1appliance

The russian devices are more sophisticated, but use the same technique.

milestones-development

The advantages of the russian device (from the presentation):

Description

  • Portable semiconductor laser with diode pumping-that makes the usage convenient for the user. Since it is compact, light in weight, absolutely safe considering the electronics
  • Friendly device as a normal household devices[sic!]
  • Passed 3 official clinical examinations in hospitals in Moscow and Moscow region”

 

system-advantages

The russian device has no CE mark or other registration in the EU for medical use. We’re told, that the procedure is survivable:

1200 patients were treated, all recovered!

It is absolutely incredible, that such a “treatment” is advertised at a public, and pubicly funded event. Hopefully, the UEF did not use own ressources for this quackery. Maybe it’s “only” misuse of the UEF brand – like in the case of Valkee Ltd, which misused the Oulu University brand.

welcome-cooperation

The poor people in India may not understand what happens to them, but doctors and university officials in Finland should recognize a quack as such.

Surprise: Elisa Oyj sells Valkee-succeeding Oura crap

Some twists in the Valkee saga still may surprise me. That one is hard to comment:

Oura-Valkee-Somerto-Elisa

Oura-Valkee-Somerto-Elisa

[ background 1 ] [ background 2 ] [ background 3 ]

The Oura ring is another gadget linked to unfounded claims, misleading advertising, and Valkee. Elisa Oyj‘s new Business Development Director is the former CEO of Valkee, and multiple Valkee employees now appear at Oura, which original name is JouZen Oy. Valkee’s co-founder is listed among the inventors of Oura’s founding patents. Among JouZen/Oura leaders is Petteri Lahtela, from Valkee’s Japan operations.

A so-called butt-on-bucket constellation, with helping hands by good old boys.

Finnish pension millions invested in questionable companies: Valkee, uBiome, Ductor &Co.

The earlight maker Valkee Ltd has caused much anger here in Finland for wasting millions of tax money. The money was channeled through TEKES, the “Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation“. The number is usually named as ca. 2,5 million Euro. But that’s only the beginning.

The main “private” investor in Valkee, as opposed to the public, was LifeLine Ventures, by its founding partners Timo Ahopelto and Petteri Koponen. Millions of its funds went into the earlight. TEKES has given an extra 3 million € for the first fund in question. A considerable portion of that has to be added to public funds wasted for the scam.

from the TEKES website: its "best funds"

from the TEKES website: its “best funds”

Additionally, the LifeLine funds got millions from Mutual Pension Insurance Ilmarinen, the biggest pension insurance company in Finland with over 500.000 insured. Starting with nearly a million € in 2012, when the LifeLine fund was opened, its stake has risen to nearly 4 M€ in Ilmarinen’s 2015 balance (PDF, p. 102).

from Ilmarinen's 2015 balance

from Ilmarinen’s 2015 balance

In Finland, one pays pension insurance directly from the pay check, every month. At the moment, it’s 5,7% for workers under 53 years, and 7,2% for the older. So Valkee has not only burned tax money, but also pension funds.

valkeestreamofmoney

There’s good reason to look, what other companies LifeLine has invested in. Besides taxes, who would give pension funds for questionable activities?

Hopefully, the following list is not representative.

 

Ductor

Ductor Ltd promises to help solving the world’s energy problems by making available up to 100% of chicken poop for biogas production (short description). It is marketing itself even as the new Nokia. Not making this up!

Its Board of Directors has caused considerable irritation. It consists of three persons:

  1. Ductor’s CEO and founder Ari Ketola, a former textile trader;
  2. the “prophet of GodVeikko Latvala;
  3. Timo Ahopelto from LifeLine Ventures.

They present the ownership: Ketola 50%, Latvala 33%, LifeLine 16% (numbers from 2015).

The Book of Veikko. - Jesus!!

The Book of Veikko. – Jesus!!

Ketola is a follower of the “Prophet” Latvala, he praises him as his mentor, having “this gift of mercy last twenty years”(sic!). Latvala briefly became known in the western world, thx to Fox News, for claims he’d cracked the code of the world-famous Voynich manuscript with the help of God. It turned out to be bogus, as prophecies usually do. He said the EU would end in 2014, but to my knowledge, it’s still around. (Btw, is it?)

Maybe found in Voynich's

Bacteria from Voynich’s?

The business idea came from a tête-à-tête with his prophet, Ketola says. The right bacteria needed for the process was found straight away, when Ductor started. He doesn’t tell if God helped with that, also. An ex-manager, who left Ductor in 2015, described the company leaders as completely incompetent. That would fit.

So far, Ductor has made millions of loss and 4 contracts in Germany. It is unknown whether their plant add-ons will work in real world settings.

Update Feb 2017: The opening of the first german plant was delayed twice, and mentions have disappeared from Ductor’s website.

May a little prayer help? – More soon…

 

uBiome

Another LifeLine investment concerned with feces is uBiome “from the Valley”, as Ahopelto calls it. It sells test kits in which you can fill in poop (for $89) or swab mouth and private parts (for $399). The samples are then screened for the different bacteria they contain. There isn’t much to learn from this for the user, the results are meaningless – unless, one day, somebody finds out.

Apologies for this one.

Apologies for this one.

In a cool twist, uBiome promises to be that somebody. If just enough people buy their test kits – and/or enough money is thrown at them – there may be results to tackle mankind’s worst killers.

For example, with 500 people, uBiome will be able to answer questions about (…) diabetes and hypertension. With 2,500, the project can investigate connections to breast cancer. With 50,000 people, the project can begin to address multiple sclerosis and leukemia

Promising too much, at the very least. Some may smell a scam herein. uBiome calls their efforts “citizen science” and has defended its lack of institutional (scientific/ethics) control, blaming the science community as old-fashioned, building obstacles for projects like theirs.

These are basically the same conspiracy theories, which Ahopelto used to defend Valkee Ltd.

 

ZenRobotics

ZenRobotics makes AI-powered robots sorting waste. I’m naming it, because it’s been one of Ahopelto’s favorites for years. Unfortunately, it made more than 13 million € loss so far, i.e. all invested money. Sales go on, although they had to admit at one point that their robot simply “did not work“.

ZenRobotics revenue and balance

ZenRobotics revenue and balance

The firm will exist as long as investments flow, or how their website puts it:

zenroboticsslogan

Join us – we’ll be the last to go.

 

If there is money to be spent, it will be spent. Sometimes at all cost. More scrutiny on how it seeps away is warranted, especially when public money and pension funds are at stake.

/-Ed.

Conflict of interest: Timo Ahopelto has made malicious and obviously false statements about me at some occasions. May the reader decide, but I am digging into facts here.

Valkee’s chairman joining antivax conspiracists?

Valkee Ltd’s chairman Timo Ahopelto has often been reluctant to give interviews to critical, or un-bribed reporters. The finnish SEURA magazine tried to get an interview last year, but he refused for many weeks. Finally Ahopelto agreed to answer questions, which he approved beforehand. Here is what he said about the faulty scientific base for Valkee’s claims:

“In Finland, there are also doctors who want everybody to be vaccinated against influenza. Others think nobody should be vaccinated, and then there’s everything in between. In science, it takes time to find the final truth and get it accepted. Things get either rejected or accepted at a certain time. For Valkee, the talk in Finland is not very important. Here’s 5 million people, but the world has 8 billions.”

In Finnish:

”Onhan Suomessa lääkäreitäkin, joiden mielestä kaikkien pitäisi ottaa influenssarokote, toisten mielestä kenenkään ei pitäisi ottaa, ja kaikkea siltä väliltä. Tieteessä lopullisen totuuden löytäminen ja hyväksytyksi saattaminen vie aikaa; asiat joko hylätään tai hyväksytään tietyssä vaiheessa. Valkeen kannalta suomalainen keskustelu ei ole kovin merkityksellinen. Täällä on 5 miljoonaa ihmistä, ja maailmassa on 8 miljardia.”

 

Ahopelto has defended Valkee’s actions with conspiracy theories before. For finnish readers, the SEURA article is worth a read. An important piece about probably corruptive practices in TEKES. — However, stay tuned for Monday, April 4th.

New (not so) independent study: Valkee’s HumanCharger is a placebo (Update)

The finnish earlight maker Valkee Ltd is putting all-in on the american market after plunging sales in Europe. Its product, the premium-priced placebo HumanCharger, is sold with wonder claims online by Walmart and others:

Walmart as a co-scammer!

  • Keep in sync, all the time: regular exposure to light helps maintain the rhythm of our natural body clock, so with HumanCharger you always feel “in sync”
  • Better sleep, better health: HumanCharger reduces the need for excess sleep and reduces food cravings associated with jetlag, tiredness and low energy levels

At the same time, the second independent study about the device’s effects (or the lack thereof) is published. The result … is the same as in all other placebo-controlled tests.

Independent trial: Valkee is a sleep and mood placebo

It is concluded that transcranial bright light, at times where conventional light therapy has phase-advancing properties, did not influence any sleep parameters differently than placebo.

This is by no means surprising, as the first independent trial, published in November 2013, came to similar conclusions with a somewhat different methodology. Valkee’s HumanCharger has no effects on circadian rhythms. The new independent study is from the University of Bergen, Norway. With 50 participants, it was adequately powered to detect any effects consistent with Valkee claims.

The company has admitted, that their earlight doesn’t have any physiological effect comparable to standard light therapy. Their own data also show, that it does not influence Melatonin or Cortisol like real light therapy. Now we know, it doesn’t improve or at least change sleep in any way.

The HumanCharger does not influence the biological clock.
No “better sleep. better health – sync with the sun”. It’s all made up.

Ironically, Valkee Ltd is just touring the US with exactly these false claims. The company has been presenting on the Consumer Electronics Show CES2016 from Jan 6-9 in Las Vegas. It would be interesting to see the reactions of any resellers, when they realize that the HumanCharger again is scientifically demonstrated to be humbug.

 

Update 1: I got the study pdf. Cool, that was fast! Big thanks to J. – and to all the other nice readers whose support I am experiencing regularly.

Update 2: According to the small print in the full text, Valkee Ltd paid 12.000 Euros for this trial. That’s more than for the ice hockey trial a few years ago. But they did not get full control over the results and the publishing. Literally a bad investment. (16.1.2016)

Two Valkee trials declared published junk (X-mas special 5)

Dozens of hilarious details about Valkee Ltd’s HumanCharger scam go untold because they don’t warrant a full blog post. As a present for Christmas Day, here’s the best of all.

The Valkee “research” group has published a number of trial results in unfavorable ways:

The only positive trial with evidence value for Valkee in a scientific journal was the one with the 22 ice hockey players supposedly pimped by earlight to better reaction, published in Frontiers in Physiology.

I say it was, because it had been until now.

It is a real pleasure for me to tell you, that this very special journal series was officially elevated to junk status, by Scholarly Open Access. That’s the No.#1 authority. The list is used by, for example, finnish universities to determine the standing of a publication.

christmas for gloom, frontiers and valkee!

With it, a second Valkee study goes down the tube, which is no longer on their website. It was in Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience.

The decision was overdue: The fake peer-review was obvious in the ice hockey article, where one of the authors was among the editors, and a dance instructor with no idea was assigned to review it by her lab boss. That’s not a fluke. It’s systematic pseudoscience done by Frontiers.

Is there anything left of Valkee’s evidence, among the ruins?

According to usually well-informed sources, there is one final blow still coming.
A nice Christmas to all and a Happy New Year!

HumanCharger study done to counter critics, disappears again (X-mas special 4)

Dozens of hilarious details about Valkee Ltd’s HumanCharger scam go untold because they don’t warrant a full blog post. As a Christmas present, here are some of such pearls.

When Finland’s Valkee Ltd re-launched their earlight device in 2015 under its new name HumanCharger, there was an exceptional piece among all the PR articles which simply reuttered their press release.

Fierce Biotech criticism

This is the first placebo-controlled trial ever conducted for a bright-light device, the company said.[SIC!] The data may be designed, at least in part, to address allegations widely publicized online that the company’s product is a scam.

Stacey Lawrence of Fierce Biotech had a bright moment.

You may wonder how the company can be forced into a study because of this blog and a few articles elsewhere. And how could they possibly even succeed?

Simple as it is: Valkee bought the “evidence”. The study has disappeared from the net and Valkee’s websites again, but is still available in full from earlightswindle.com/gloom (PDF). The small-print in the last paragraph reads:

We would like to thank Clinius Ltd., an independent company, which conducted the study on behalf of Valkee Ltd.

The study is not done for any scientific purpose and as such unethical from the start. And it’s unclear who the real investigators were. Clinius is a company from Helsinki, Finland.

 

Stay tuned for the next part tomorrow, and the best of all on December 24th!