2 UC Davis Neurosurgeons Resign After Implanting Bacteria in Patients' Brains

Two neurosurgeons have resigned from UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, Calif., after an internal investigation determined they violated university policies in their treatment of three patients, according to a Sacramento Bee report.

J. Paul Muizelaar, MD, PhD, former chief of the department of neurosurgery, and fellow neurosurgeon Rudolph J. Schrot, MD, introduced live bowel bacteria directly into three patients' brains in an attempt to save them from the deadly brain tumor glioblastoma. Drs. Muizelaar and Schrot thought the bowel bacteria could stimulate the patients' immune systems, prolonging their lives, according to the report.

The three patients, who consented to the treatment in 2010 and 2011, lived 5 1/2 weeks, a year and two weeks after the treatment, respectively. Investigations by the university concluded the surgeons violated its regulatory and ethical standards and sidestepped FDA rules, such as a directive to conduct animal studies before performing a proposed therapy on humans, according to the report. The university determined the surgeons' therapy was research, which has strict guidelines, as opposed to "innovative care," which is more lenient, according to the report.

The surgeons said they acted in the patients' best interests and claimed the investigations were biased and incomplete, the Sacramento Bee reported. Dr. Schrot said the patients were Dr. Muizelaar's and that Dr. Muizelaar performed the actual procedures. The university claimed Dr. Schrot still played a major role in the experimental treatment, according to the report.

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