23 September, 2007


There doesn't really seem to be much of a scientific consensus regarding self-experimentation. And when it does happen, people don't like to talk about it much, it seems, like the scientific community is mildly embarrassed by these few brave individuals who are so passionate, or nutty, about their research that they decide to become test subjects themselves. The PI of the lab I work in got really sick, with horrible gastritis a while ago, and she was excited about the whole thing because she thought that she might be the very first case of lab-transmitted H. pylori infection. Or, at least, accidental H. pylori infection. Dr. Barry Marshall once drank a culture of H. pylori to demonstrate that it did indeed cause stomach ulcers and gastritis. It did, and he got a stomach ache.

The prompt of this post is in a research article I was reading:
Relationship between Plasma Levels of Lipopolysaccharides (LPS) and LPS-Binding Proteins in Patients with Severe Sepsis and Septic Shock; Steven M. Opal, Patrick J. Scannon, et al.; The Journal of Infectious Diseases; 1999; 180:1584-1589

"Administration of endotoxin to humans in minute quantities (2-4ng/kg) precipitates typical signs and symptoms of clinical sepsis, activates the complement and coagulation systems, and triggers release of the proinflammatory cytokines. Injection of larger doses of endotoxin (~1mg) into humans has been followed by severe hypotension and multiorgan dysfunction within 2 h of intravenous administration. "

The part that caught my eye was "endotoxin into humans", and I couldn't help but wonder how the bloody hell they ever got that protocol approved, and how much did they have to pay the volunteers? So I flipped to the reference:

Brief Report: shock and multiple organ dysfunction after self administration of Salmonella endotoxin; daSilva AMT, Fromm RE, Chuidian FS; New England Journal of Medicine; 1993; 328:1457-60

The difference between a fool and a genius is slim indeed.

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