Friday, October 17, 2008

Do we really need to do this kind of stuff in the name of science?

I read scientific research an average of 2 hours a day. I see some pretty strange things. Today I encountered the horrible.

Mexican scientists interested in whether or not melatonin could lessen the damaging effects of a caustic burn, induced such a burn in the esophagi (plural for esophagus) of rats. Their rationale was that caustic ingestion (you know, things like drinking Liquid Plumr) is a serious life-threatening event in children.

I don't understand why, since melatonin is a naturally occurring substance, they couldn't just do the research using children who had already, accidentally, ingested something caustic? Since the purpose of the research is supposedly to help these children, wouldn't the research be best conducted on the population it is intended to help?

This is just cruel. I almost didn't post this because I didn't want to reward this kind of sadistic thinking by giving it attention. But at some point you just have to stand up and say, "That's just wrong."

Oh, by the way, the melatonin worked. So while these guys were busy in their lab burning rat throats in order to get a publication, Mexican children who could have benefited from being subjects in the study...sat in the hospital with burnt throats and no melatonin to help them. Go figure.

Larios-Arceo F, Ortiz GG, Huerta M, Leal-Cortés C, Saldaña JA, Bitzer-Quintero OK, Rodríguez-Reynoso S. Protective effects of melatonin against caustic esophageal burn injury in rats. J Pineal Res. 2008 Sep;45(2):219-23. Epub 2008 Mar 26.

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