UC Davis Doctors Tried Treating Brain Cancer with Bowel Bacteria

Dr. J. Paul Muizelaar and Dr. Rudolph J. Schrot , two neurosurgeons at the University of California, Davis, have resigned after officials at the university found their actions violated the school’s code of conduct. The doctors had infected brain-cancer patients with bowel bacteria in order to save their lives without getting approval from the FDA or the university.

All three patients had been diagnosed with glioblastoma, which is a highly malignant brain tumor.

The first patient died roughly a month after the infection was started, the second lived for more than a year, raising the doctors’ hopes, but when the third patient developed sepsis and died within two weeks, UC Davis started an investigation.

When the Sacramento Bee wrote about the treatments in 2012, another investigation was started which ultimately forced the resignations not only of the two doctors, but also of Dr. Claire Pomeroy, who was dean of the university’s School of Medicine,

Muizelaar and Schrot “deliberately circumvented” internal policies, “defied directives” from top leaders and ignored federal regulations, according to the University. Ralph J. Hexter, the school’s provost and executive vice chancellor, stated, “Investigators I appointed heard from some witnesses that there is perception that compliance with university policies and external regulatory requirements is not a universally held value.”

The doctors said they weren’t trying to flout regulations, only give the patients one more chance at beating the brain cancer. Muizelaar said, “I was simply thinking that I could help patients. My whole medical practice is guided by actually only one principle, namely: What would I do for my mother, my son, myself?”


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