All in the Funding -Madison C.

Chapter 3 of Rigor Mortis is about a disease called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis but it is more commonly known as ALS. ALS is a disease that affects your nervous system and weakens your muscles, which then affects your physical movement. There have been multiple studies and research trials on ALS to try and find a cure but all of them have ended in failure. Most scientists conducting these trials knew that they had a very high chance of failure but they weren’t sure why that was. It wasn’t until the ALS Therapy Development Institute started to look into their trials and then investigate where they could be going wrong. The ALS TDI discovered that these scientists were using far too few mice in their experiments. “They discovered that the original animal studies to test these drugs were seriously flawed. They all used far too few mice, and as a result they all came up with spurious results. Some experiments used as few as four mice in a test group.” I found this to be very surprising information because to me, someone who isn’t even a professional scientist, four seems like a very small number especially for a trial of that magnitude. Having a trial with test subjects in such a small quantity leaves you with very limited variety of test results. So why do scientists do that? I found my answer a few pages ahead in the chapter.

“The National Institutes of Health (NIH) paid for much of this research, and funding was stretched so thin that scientists said they didn’t get as much as they needed to to get their studies. So they made difficult choices. As a result, funders, including the NIH, spent tens of millions of dollars on human using these drugs, without first making sure that the scientific underpinnings were sound.” Interesting. The reason that scientists were using shortcuts in their research was because they didn’t have the resources to do it correctly the first time. What I don’t understand is that these scientist willing did their research kinda half way in a sense. These findings could change the world of medicine and a lot of the science behind it is wrong. That is very mind-boggling to me.  Not only are they doing wrong sciEnce but they aren’t even doing it correctly. Maybe in the future things in the world of medicine will change for the greater good but for now what will happen next for us?

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