Biotech companies now using CEOs as human guinea pigs for new drugs

px Assorted pharmaceuticals by LadyofProcrastination
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons /Flickr/LadyofProcrastination CC BY-SA 2.0

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As CEO of biotech company Insilico Medicine, Alex Zhavoronkov routinely subjects himself to his own medicine. Self-experimentation lets him quickly see whether lab predictions hold true in a human subject, or whether there are any safety issues.

Such experiments are one of medicine’s oldest traditions. Many a vaccine or poison was first tested on its developer. As medicine has progressed, however, self-experimentation has become less popular in academic labs, to be taken up instead by a growing biotech industry. Those changes have given rise to a new breed of self-tester: the guinea pig CEO.

Self-experiments may hold particular appeal for biomedicine these days. Alongside the rise of personalized medicine, experiments on just one person suddenly become just the right size. Self-experimentation could also let a researcher “leapfrog” millions in developmental costs by getting a new drug straight into human testing and avoiding rounds of tests on animals.


Meanwhile, Zhavoronkov plans to bring more rigor to self-experimentation by starting a journal to peer-review and publish these kinds of studies.

Read full, original post: Biotech execs in search of human guinea pigs find eager subjects: themselves

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