Doctor Finds Cure In Google Scholar

    January 15, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

A family of six that ingested death cap mushrooms faced the prospect of dying from liver and kidney failure, but a doctor who searched for a treatment managed to locate one.

Doctor Finds Cure In Google Scholar
Google Scholar Assists Medical Field

Todd Mitchell had to find an antidote for mushroom poisoning when six people showed up in Domincan Hospital’s emergency room complaining of symptoms of the ailment. The problem is that such an antidote does not exist in the United States.

The Santa Cruz Sentinel discussed the ordeal. It could have had a much grimmer ending had Mitchell not turned to his computer to try and find a cure:

Into the night that Tuesday and early Wednesday morning, Mitchell looked for information.

Using Google Scholar, a search engine of scholarly literature, he found a promising avenue of treatment: Extract from milk thistle, a nuisance weed for farmers and used as a liver tonic in European folk medicine.

Milk thistle extract, or silymarin, has been used in Europe to treat cirrhosis of the liver, scarring that often proves fatal.

Finding a potential solution proved easier than actually getting it to the patients. Mitchell needed to secure FDA permission to receive an intravenous version of the treatment from Germany, and to get it from there to California.

The treatment, called Legalon, made it to California, where physicians administered it to the patients. Five of the six recovered, but the eldest patient, an 83-year-old woman, died of kidney failure after the poison spread from her liver.

Without that search from Mitchell, all of the patients faced the possibility of needing liver transplants to live. Chalk up an assist to Google for helping make the situation turn out much differently.


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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.