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Drug trial guinea pig faces new medical battle

Diagnosed with cancer

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One of the victims of the disastrous drug trial at Northwick Park Hospital earlier this year says he has now been diagnosed with the early stages of cancer.

The disease is attacking New Zealander David Oakley's lymphatic system, part of the immune system. He told The BBC: "It's an early sign of cancer. The best I could actually get was that if we catch it early enough it is treatable."

Six men who were hospitalised by TGN1412, an experimental treatment designed to combat immune conditions such as arthritis and multiple sclerosis, along with certain forms of leukaemia.

But instead of damping down the immune system, the compound over-stimulated it, causing the massive swelling which prompted one woman to describe her boyfriend as looking like "The Elephant Man".

After the tests went badly wrong, the men were warned they could face developing cancer, though there is no proof the trial caused Mr Oakley's condition.

An inquiry by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority found the trial operator Parexel had not liased properly with the drug's German developers TeGenero.

The volunteers' lawyers are currently seeking greater compensation than the initial £5,000 they were offered in April. ®

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