Research samples are hard to obtain these days

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: (Published 24 August 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:429
  1. Shahid A Khan, specialist registrar in gastroenterology
  1. Divisions of Medicine and Imaging Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College, London

    I was a clinical research fellow coming to the end of my three year research programme on the aetiology of hepatobiliary cancers. One of my final studies was to analyse bile, collected via endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, with magnetic resonance spectroscopy to look for differences between patients with cancer and those without.

    The initial spectroscopy readings were promising, with various bizarre, never previously seen peaks proudly announcing themselves. My initial excitement that I was on the verge of discovering the cause of biliary cancer was soon cut short, however, on realising that these peaks were probably due to the contrast agent used during cholangiopancreatography. Time was running out—I had to submit my thesis within a few months …

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