Challenging the Human Challenge

Long performed under close supervision in wealthy nations, more developing countries are playing host to human challenge experiments, which infect participants in order to test drugs.

Conducting research in disease-endemic countries can be advantageous, mimicking real-world conditions. While voluntary infection research has led to medical breakthroughs, it has a checkered history of exploitation. Today, more safeguards are in place: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Welcome Trust have penned new guidelines to protect study participants, and growing medical investments in the developing world have helped breed trust. But big questions remain around proper compensation, how much risk is acceptable, and how to ensure informed consent.

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