Never Do Unto Others What You Wouldn't Do to Yourself

Albert B. Lowenfels, MD


June 23, 2015

Tough to Swallow

Figure 5. Barry Marshall. Image courtesy of the Office of the Nobel Laureates, University of Western Australia, Perth

As a registrar in medicine at a hospital in Western Australia, Barry Marshall teamed up with Robin Warren, a pathologist, to study an unusual organism (subsequently determined to be Helicobacter pylori) obtained from the stomach.[7] At that time, the causes of gastritis, gastric ulcer, and peptic ulcer disease were unknown, nor was it even considered possible that these three diseases might all be related to an infection.

Marshall and Warren believed that H pylori might be the culprit. To test their hypothesis, Marshall swallowed a culture of H pylori; within about a week, he developed gastritis, proven by endoscopic biopsy. Fortunately, Marshall recovered after antibiotic therapy. This self-experiment marked the beginning of effective treatment for peptic ulcer disease and in 2005 led to a Nobel Prize for Marshall and Warren. The organism now has its own journal, Helicobacter, which is concerned exclusively with research about H pylori.


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