[Paleopsych] Re: Nobel Came After Years of Battling the System-Helicobacter story

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Re: Nobel Came After Years of Battling the System-Helicobacter story From: 
"Norman Vickers" <nvickers1 at cox.net>
Date: Wed, 12 Oct 2005 08:59:34 -0500

To:  Pensacola Mencken Group and some friends
From: Norman Vickers

Here's a nice summary of the bacterial genesis of (some) peptic ulcer
disease. See Frank Forman's comments below.

Certainly J. Robin Warren (pathologist) and Barry Marshall (gastroenterologist) 
from Perth, Australia are deserving of this landmark discovery. Marshall's 
self-experimentation by giving himself a serious case of gastritis when he 
drank the H. pylori is one of a long series of physicians and 
self-experimentation.  The first cardiac cath was done by a physician on 
himself, with the help of his nurse.

In medical practice, however, the problem with H. pylori is not nearly as 
straightforward.  The Helicobacter pylori surrounds itself in an "antacid" 
capsule so that it can live in the stomach.  In older populations, it's found 
in about 50%.  Obviously not all these persons have peptic ulcer. It seems to 
be more prevalent in societies where sanitation is poor.  Treatment to 
eradicate Helicobacter pylori with antibiotics is expensive and not without 
risk--allergic reactions, antibiotics induced diarrhea etc.  And if patients 
with symptoms-- heartburn, abdominal pain-- but no ulcer are found to have H. 
pylori, there's a less than 50% chance that they'll improve with antibiotic 

So, this discovery didn't put the pharmaceutical people out of business.

To make this more complex:  much peptic ulcer disease and symptoms relate to 
the use of anti-inflammatory drugs-- All the NSAIDs ( non-steroid 
anti-inflammatory drugs) such as Ibuprofen, Aleve and others and aspirin can 
cause peptic ulcer and gastrointestinal bleeding.  The COX-II inhibitors Vioxx 
( now removed from the market) and Celebrex are no more effective as 
anti-inflammatories, they just have less irritating effects on the stomach.

I did some work with colleagues in the early 1960s documenting the effect of 
aspirin on the stomach lining and published the first photographs of the 
aspirin induced lesion.  ( This wasn't a new discovery as an English observe in 
1937 had published similar findings and documented with an artist's drawing, as 
photography through the gastroscope wasn't available at that time.  Now, the 
fact that aspirin can cause ulcers and GI bleeding is an accepted fact both by 
physicians and laymen.  You can read it on the labels which come with the 

When we published our work we had similar reactions to that of the Australian 
workers with H. pylori.

Here's the progression of acceptance of new knowledge:

*         It doesn't happen
*         If it does happen, it doesn't happen very often
*         It does happen often, but it isn't very important
*         Yes, it happens often, but it's not new!

For some really good information on H. pylori and ulcer disease, search
Google.  Put in H. Pylori + patient information.  You will be referred
to the National Library of Medicine and get some solid information which
is in clear understandable English.

After all that preamble-here's the article

Nobel Came After Years of Battling the System

Frank Forman write:[William Weedon taught a terrific course called "The
Concepts of Order and Disorder in Science and Literature" (we didn't get into 
literature at all. Too bad!) in the tool school at UVa, which I took in 1965-6. 
He remarked that the phlogiston theory of heat was "abandonded much too 
quickly," meaning, I took it, that the caloric theory of heat was far from 
being adequately established. This doesn't seem to be the case here.

[I cannot help but be reminded that Galileo implored the Roman Catholic priests 
to look into his telescope. They refused. A replica of that telescope is in the 
Air and Space Museum, across the street from where I work. It has been rigged 
to show the moons of Jupiter. The telescope wobbles so badly and the image is 
so small that the priests very well might not have been convinced. I can't say 
for sure I could see the moons myself!]

NYTimes  Oct 11, 2005


     When two Australian scientists set out in the early 1980's to prove
     that a bacterium, Helicobacter pylori, caused stomach inflammation

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