Australian Doctor Won Nobel Prize
About half of the world's population harbors the bacteria but most people show no symptoms from the infection. Those who do are at risk for ulcers and canc.
Marshall showed a short film, produced by www.nobelprize.org, in which his discovery was said to have turned established medical theory on its head.
"We were looked on as being a bit crazy," said Warren in the film. Doctors had long believed that peptic ulcers were caused by stress, spicy food and alcohol. They thought that bacteria couldn't grow in the stomach. "As a rule, they don't," Warren said. "But these do."
Warren found spiral-shaped bacteria in tissue taken from the stomachs of many patients who went through gastroscopies ... examinations of the stomach to look for abnormalities. He noticed that the samples showed signs of inflammation and thought that the bacteria caused gastritis. Marshall, who was looking for a research project, met Warren during his internal-medicine training at Royal Perth Hospital in 1981 and they joined forces. In 1984, Marshall decided to drink the bacteria.
At the medical center, Marshall said that his decision to experiment on himself is not unusual in medical circles. Dr. Werner Forssmann performed the first angioplasty on himself in 1929 when he anesthetized his arm and then maneuvered a catheter through a vein and into his heart. In the 1970s, Dr. David Clyde, who was trying to develop a vaccine for malaria, allowed infected mosquitoes to bite him and give him the disease.
Marshall kept his self-experimentation to himself. When he finally talked about it, he said, "Everyone in my family got paranoid that they caught it ... they didn't catch it."
Marshall's and Warren's work has been called the most significant discovery in the history of gastroenterology, similar to such finds as vaccines for polio and smallpox.
In 1926, a Danish scientist won a Nobel Prize with his claims that a parasitic worm caused stomach canc in mice and rats.
"We discovered the cause for stomach canc, not him," Marshall said. "The great thing about the Nobel Prize (as far as the Danish scientist is concerned) is they can never take it back."
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