(p. D4) When Bob Hariri developed a product he thought could be useful as a human-skin replacement for burn victims, he had no trouble finding a subject willing to test it–himself.
An entrepreneur and a neurosurgeon with both a medical degree and a doctorate, Dr. Hariri is one of a number of scientists who have experimented on themselves with new or yet-to-be approved medical products or technologies, and who say such practice can be indispensable in the development of innovative biomedical treatments.
Some scientists are pushing for self-experimentation data to be reported publicly and more systematically to aid scientific progress. Alex Zhavoronkov, chief executive of an aging-research company called InSilico Medicine Inc., and others hope to start a peer-reviewed journal on self-experimentation, where scientists and other qualified individuals would publish high-quality case studies of tests performed on themselves. He plans to launch a crowdfunding operation in the next few months to fund it.
The idea is “to unlock the knowledge [of self-experimentation] that resides there anyway,” says Dr. Zhavrononkov, who takes an old diabetes drug called metformin that is supposed to have antiaging properties, even though it hasn’t been approved for that purpose.
. . .
Advocates say self-experimentation can yield information that is hard to get from a clinical trial. The experimenter feels what it’s like to be the patient and gets insight into how to improve testing procedures. Also, a number of individual reports, when cobbled together, can start to yield a picture of whether a new treatment is likely to work or not, though one wouldn’t rely on those reports alone to conclude safety or effectiveness.
For the full story, see:
Wang, Shirley S. “Why Medical Researchers Experiment on Themselves.”The Wall Street Journal (Tues., January 26, 2016): D4.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date Jan. 25, 2016, and has the title “IN THE LAB; More Medical Researchers Engage In Self-Experimentation.”)