How far would you go to advance medical research?
Are doctors who use themselves as human guinea pigs in their own research mad, mavericks, or medical altruists? Manjulika Das looks into the weird world of self experimentation
It took just a couple of days for virologist Pradeep Seth to decide that he would use himself as a human guinea pig in his own experiment. On a December day in 2003, the head of microbiology at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), in New Delhi, injected himself with a vaccine that he had been designing since 1996. It was a decision that was condemned by the country's medical community as being unethical,1 because the vaccine was yet to be cleared for human trials.
Having already successfully tested in mice and monkeys, Pradeep Seth was eager to know the human body's reaction to his vaccine as human trials were not due to start until 2005: “The test was to find out how a human would react and to find out if the vaccine construct was going to evoke any severe immune response.”
Pradeep Seth says that he