18.04.2024

Scientists will pay you more than $4,000 to chug a diarrhea-causing drink… would YOU?

If you would be willing to consume a drink that will give you diarrhea for $4,000 then a new scientific trial might be for you.

Researchers at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia are looking for healthy volunteers to test an experimental oral vaccine against Shigella bacteria, which causes a common but occasionally fatal stomach bug.

If eligible, participants will be deliberately exposed to the bacteria and the possibility of illness — but will be compensated up to $4,250 to take part. Two out of three groups will receive the oral vaccine but all will have to drink the Shigella concoction.

Participants would also be required to travel to Georgia or Ohio to receive the vaccine or placebo doses and also stay in hospital for up to 11 days.

Shigella usually causes symptoms such as pain, fever, diarrhea for up to a week.

Volunteers will be randomly split into three groups. One will drink two doses of the vaccine, one will have one dose plus a placebo and the other will only drink a placebo

Volunteers will be randomly split into three groups. One will drink two doses of the vaccine, one will have one dose plus a placebo and the other will only drink a placebo (stock)

All participants will then chug a drink containing the Shigella bacteria (pictured) and be admitted to hospital

There are around 450,000 infections and 40 deaths due to the bacteria in the US every year. Young children are most at risk, as are men who have sex with men.

Shigella is also the main cause of dysentery, a general term for gut infections that cause bloody diarrhea.

The majority of cases go away on their own if people rest and drink more water.

But occasionally, it can cause serious or even deadly complications in people who are immunocompromised or in children where their immune system is not yet fully developed.

This can lead to seizures, sepsis and kidney failure and can spread through food, water and even sex.

It is usually caught by people not washing their hands after using the toilet, as well as through contaminated food or water.

The Emory University team’s vaccination contains a weakened version of Shigella bacteria, which is taken orally.

They are after 120 healthy adults aged 18 to 49 with no previous history of Shigella or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

People who have close contact with young children, pregnant women or elderly adults are also excluded.

The trial will be run at Emory’s Hope Clinic in Georgia and at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Ohio.

It is a human challenge study, meaning people will be deliberately exposed to the bacteria.

Volunteers will be randomly split into three groups. One will drink two doses of the vaccine, one will have one dose plus a placebo and the other will only drink a placebo.

All participants will then drink a concoction containing the bacteria and be admitted to hospital.

Participants must be able to attend screening visits, stay in a hospital unit for up to 11 days and be available for up to 14 outpatient study visits and a phone call. Other than that, they are free to go about their lives as normal.

Over the eight months, those who complete the study will be paid up to $4,250.

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