Self-Experimentation

From a description[1. Altman LK. Who Goes First?, The Story of Self-experimentation in Medicine. Univ of California Press; 1987.] of Frederick Prescott’s self-experimentation with curare:

They were now ready for the third stage, a thirty milligram injection…. “That was a real knockout dose. Within two minutes, the muscles of the face, neck, arms and legs were completely paralyzed.”

At this point, Prescott was unable to communicate with his colleagues who were busy watching the graphs being recorded on the revolving drum. They glanced at him every few seconds, but because he did not turn blue, they assumed everything was fine.

Learn more about the remarkable history of curare here.

Jack Barnes dramatically isolates the cause of Irukandji syndrome.

But this is child’s play. Observe these examples from Self-experimenters: Sources for Study:
cath

Before antibiotics?!

charcoal

coke

Ahh, the golden age of science! Maybe 150 years from today junkies will be doing quantum theory experiments and building particle accelerators.

Self-experimenters__Sources_for_Study_-_Arsen_P__Fiks__Paul_A__Buelow_-_Google_Books syph

anstie narc This is Anstie:
Francis_Edmund_Anstie

This is Anstie six months later. Science: not even once.article-carwash-0112

 

Here is a portion of an interview of Barry Marshall, of H. pylori fame:

I was aware of famous self-experiments because I read the history of John Hunter’s self-infection with gonorrhea and syphilis (which may have caused his death years later). However, I had been arguing with the skeptics for two years and had no animal model that could prove H pylori was a pathogen. If I was right, then anyone was susceptible to the bug and would develop gastritis and maybe an ulcer years later. So I expected to develop an asymptomatic infection. The experiment was planned with a culture from a patient with dyspepsia and confirmation that it was sensitive to metronidazole. Then I underwent endoscopy in early July 1984 to confirm that I was negative for H pylori. Three weeks later, I drank the ‘brew’ which was a suspension of two culture plates of the organism. If only I knew that people would be so interested, I would have taken a photograph! After five days, I started to have bloating and fullness after the evening meal, and my appetite decreased. My breath was bad and I vomited clear watery liquid, without acid, each morning at approximately 06:00. Then, a follow-up endoscopy showed severe active gastritis with polymorphonuclear infiltrate and epithelial damage. Evidently, H pylori was a pathogen for normal people. The ulcer did not merely set you up for catching the infection. People with asymptomatic H pylori were ‘carriers’ and most people did not have ulcers from the bacterium. Gastritis was explained.

After 14 days, I repeated the endoscopy and then, before the results were known, began taking antibiotics (on my wife’s orders!). However H pylori were not seen on that biopsy so I might have already had a spontaneous cure. Robin Warren believes that the bacteria were still lurking and would have been detected on culture, but by then I was already treated. The paper was published in the third person, but it gradually became known that the ‘male volunteer’ was me.

What I find particularly interesting is that he didn’t just do a bunch of coke and hike for 26 miles. He adhered to Koch’s Postulates.

 

Also, this.