Picture it and Write: Human Trial
Hello there! This is my offering for this weeks picture it and write from Ermilia’s Blog here. Once again the picture is not mine, it is only used for inspiration. Anyway, enjoy!
If I ever had it in my power, I think the first act that I would do would be to banish to a particularly ‘cosy’ part of hell the man who first told me about Barry Marshall, Helicobacter Pylori and the ultimate lesson that if ethics and the law prevent you from conducting a human trials through conventional channels, you can always do it to yourself.
Bob is my name and pharmacology is my game. I made my name studying psilocybin and other chemicals in certain ‘recreational’ fungi and the effects they have on the brain. We have found over the years that many of these show real promise for treating a range of illnesses, from certain forms of psychosis to preventing addiction. Of course; one of the things that we do is take what nature provided and try to improve on it. We find that simple chemical changes to the original natural product, a nitro group here an ester there, can radically alter how effective it can be, sometimes for the better.
The gold standard for preliminary testing of these drugs is and will likely remain the animal trial. This works great for cancers and bacterial infections but when you are talking about psychoactive substances things get more tricky. A spaced out rat doesn’t look very different from a normal rat, except maybe more scared and spiders tend to produce the funkiest webs when high. Other than that you can’t really get very good data, you need to test on humans.
I suppose that the fates were conspiring against me that year. After animal trials showed that my latest lead, formula B15 was not toxic therapeutically I was delayed in getting clearance for phase one. The wrong people were off it seemed so when I finally got the go ahead it was in the middle of the summer break and there were no undergrads about (Undergrads are the best, they’d try anything!). In the end I was planning on heading off to a conference within a fortnight and I didn’t have any concrete data to present. I was frustrated, I was desperate, I said “Screw it! Just give it to me!”
Hallucinogens can have some pretty unpredictable effects on even the sanest people so my students had to take adequate precautions. I was restrained in a chair surrounded by recording devices so that my experience would be documented. I was adamant that I would call out everything I see so we were expecting to get some good preliminary data. One of my students, Maryami, gave me a 2% solution of B15 to drink while a friend from the medical faculty watched my vital signs. I sat back and waited for it to kick in.
I was sitting for ten minutes when I noticed a coloured blotch in my vision, as if I had been looking at a bright light. I was unconcerned but called it out anyway just in case. The blotch gradually changed colour, from red, to green, to blue, then started to expand, filling my vision. I felt a little nervous but kept on reporting what I was seeing.
Suddenly things went black, I was terrified, looking around, starting to call out. I heard other voices, trying to reassure me. My vision returned just as quickly and I was greeted by the strangest sight ever. In front of me was Maryami, but she wasn’t in the lab coat she was in previously. She was wearing a green jacket hooded suit. That didn’t concern me though, what really blew me was the miniature replica of herself that she held, puppet-like, on a set of strings. Her hands moved endlessly, controlling her miniature self, while her eyes turned to me. She mouthed, as if to speak, but the voice came not from her, but the puppet. “Are you OK Professor?” She asked. I most definitely was not.
I was close to the end of my tether. This was too much for me. I called to anyone who would listen that I suddenly needed to go to the toilet, very badly. I heard some murmured debate and then my medic friend telling me to stay still. That was hard to do as I watched a Cyclops with far too many fingers undo the straps. As soon as the last strap was undone I pushed him out-of-the-way and headed for the door. I used to be a champion in track and field so I was out of the door before anyone could react.
Here’s my version of events
Escaping the laboratory building. I made to head for my home but changed direction when I noticed the plague of locusts travelling in a leisurely south-south-west direction. I instead turned due north, successfully avoiding the many dinosaurs who were wandering around the pulsating buildings. Outside a grey cave I found an injured reindeer, thankfully inside the cave was a portal to Santa’s kingdom and after skill full negotiation with the gate-keeper I was able to send it home and was crowned by the elves in thanks.
After about an hour talking to a horribly ugly but wise catfish beside a green lake, I spotted a small army of demons going in the direction of a cloud castle. I challenged them bravely being armed only with a sword and successfully bested three of them when the head demon used some new weapon against me, knocking me out.
I awoke some five hours later, in a police cell. Naked except for a bed-sheet wrapped around my chest, very, very confused. It was only through the questions of the police and a subsequent investigation by the college newspaper that I was able to piece together what had happened.
Upon running out of the lab I suddenly screamed “Locusts and jumped into nearby bushes. I then made my way through the campus, passing bemused passers-by, shedding clothes, shouting how “They can still smell my human-scent!”
CCTV the showed me entering the canteen building through the rear door, holding a small dog, then arguing with a plastic chef before tossing the dog into a cold room. I then marched through the campus, butt naked, until I ran into a small group of prospective students. With whom I had an in-depth conversation about the nature of colour during which I would periodically duck to “Avoid flying voles”
The campus police found me there and when I saw them I grabbed a rubber chicken from a small child and began waving it around me. I apparently hit several of them while shouting “Back Demons!” before I was tazered.
Needless to say, there was a board of inquiry into “This disgraceful display” to which we were all called up. I didn’t lose my job of course (Thank you tenure!) and my students were exonerated. The dog was alright as well so I have no guilt about that. I did develop a reputation however that has been difficult to live with. The number of times that people have shouted “Locusts!” at me or “Fight those demons!” And I have been gradually becoming part of the myth of the university.
On the plus side we did get some good data, not enough to blow them away at the conference, but good enough. The really big change happened when the new term started however. Whenever we would start a new trail there were lines of students eager to take part. As one young fellow told Maryami “Aren’t you the lab with the professor that ran through campus naked? I wanna try what you’ve got!”