If you read Brendan Maher’s Nature feature from a week or so ago you would have come across this rather arresting introduction:
In 1987 Rip Ballou taped an ice-cream carton to his arm. The young US Army doctor was doing his bit for science; inside the carton five hungry mosquitoes set about doing theirs.
Now you can undergo a similar experience. A new research facility is being set up in Seattle: the Human Challenge Centre. What they plan to ‘challenge’ volunteers with is malaria.
After being given a potential malaria vaccine, victims, sorry test subjects, will be bitten by infected mosquitoes. Then researchers from the Malaria Vaccine Initiative and the Seattle Biomedical Research Institute will see if the vaccine is any good (press release pdf).
Exactly how much you might be paid for this is not yet clear and will have to be determined by an independent panel, according to Fox. “It’s a sensitive issue. They want to make sure it’s fair … but not so much that somebody would say, ‘I can’t turn down this opportunity’,” Patrick Duffy, head of the SBRI malaria program told them.
The Seattle Times notes that over 900 people have already taken part in malaria trials at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Maryland and there are two other labs that conduct similar experiments in England and the Netherlands.
James Cummings, chief of Walter Reed’s clinical trials centre, tell the paper he took part in a trial and got malaria. “I felt like I had the flu — chills and shakes for the first few hours,” he says. But he was getting better in eight hours.
The Times’s in-depth coverage also includes a poll: Would you allow yourself to be infected with a form of curable malaria for $2,000-$4,000 in compensation? Currently it’s: Yes 58% (1082 votes) / No 32% (599 votes) / Not sure 9% (172 votes).
More on Malaria from Nature
Malaria: The end of the beginning – After decades of work, a pioneering malaria vaccine may soon reach the final phase of clinical trials.
Malaria: The big push – Zambia, with help from partners around the world, is stepping up its battle against malaria.