This years Noble Prize in Medicine went to Dr. Barry Marshall and Dr. J. Robin Warren for the discovery of my favorite bacteria, Helicobacter pylori. Just saying Helicobacter pylori makes me giggle and if you order over $100 from Life Sciences, you get a free Helicobacter pylori doll.
Thanks to these two Australian researchers, we can no longer blame work for causing our stomach ulcers. Dr. Warren first noticed the bacteria in 1979 and found that it was present in 50% of biopsies from patients suffering from gastric ulcers. He also saw that inflammation was always present in areas where the bacteria were found. Dr. Marshall joined Warren as a clinical fellow in 1985 and managed to cultivate Helicobacter pylori. Then Marshall did what any true mad scientist would do. He had a gastric biopsy to prove that he didn’t already have H. pylori, and then deliberately infected himself with it. It still took about eleven years for the medical community to catch on and believe that stomach ulcers where indeed caused by these teeny tiny gram negative monsters.
Gastric ulcers are now treated with antibiotics and acid secretion inhibitors. It’s also been discovered that the presence of Helicobacter pylori can increase your risk for stomach cancer.