Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self. - Cyril Connolly
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Mad Man or Hero
If my last post made you wince - don't read any further:
When Professor David Pritchard wanted to test the effects of parasites on humans, he had to apply to the Ethics Committee.

They refused him the go-ahead because they weren't confident it was safe. So there was only one thing for it: he volunteered himself.

This involved putting 50 hookworms on a plaster, then sticking it to his arm so they could burrow under his skin and travel to his gut. They would live in his body for five weeks.

"When I told my wife what I was planning, she was horrified," Professor Pritchard recalls.
His hypothesis is that people infected with hookworms are not susceptible to certain diseases like asthma. He thinks the hookworms secrete a chemical to trick the body's immune system into not rejecting the worm, and in doing so, it keeps other illnesses at bay such as asthma and auto immune illnesses since the immune system doesn't overreact to foreign bodies. He is trying to isolate and create a synthetic version of the chemical: drugs from bugs.

If this works - he's a hero. If not, he's still a brave guy.
posted by Broadsheet @ 3:31 PM  
1 Editorial Opinions:
  • At February 06, 2007, Blogger jwer said…

    Certainly not a bad hypothesis; I mean, sickle-cell anemia protects against malaria...

    Still, I ain't signin' up for that study. I'd sooner do the ketamine study at Walter Reed.

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