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Subject Volunteers wanted for free trip to Mexico... in return for blood tests and possible diarrhoea
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Volunteers are being sought to go on a free trip to Mexico - the catch is they have to test a diarrhoea drug.

The willing travellers from the UK and Germany will be given £1,400 by a drug firm for flights and accommodation to Mexico or Guatemala. They will be free to eat and drink what they choose on their holiday.

In return they will be asked to test a diarrhoea remedy, administered through a patch that is worn on the arm for six hours, three weeks before departure. Some of the holidaymakers will be given a placebo to act as a control group.

The U.S. vaccine manufacturer Intercell is looking for 1,800 people aged 18 to 64 to take part in the 'Trek Study.'

They can roam up to three hours travelling time from the designated medical centre, but need to return to have regular blood tests and give stool samples if they develop an upset stomach.

Around 10million tourists succumb to travellers' diarrhoea every year. The disease is spread by fecal contamination of food and water, which is far more common in developing countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia.

The illness generally lasts up to five days, causing loose bowels, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and dehydration. Up to a third of those afflicted go on to develop Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

At present the most effective treatment is oral rehydration therapy (ORT), the simple replacement of fluids and salts.

Intercell hope their vaccine will protect travellers from the cause of the disease - enterotoxigenic E coli bacteria. This means they need to test it in real-life conditions in countries where the illness is common.

The trial had been planned for April, but was put on hold after the outbreak of swine flu in Mexico.

Now the trial has been given the green light with the British study being co-ordinated by the Hospital for Tropical Diseases in London.

Drug trials in the UK have struggled to find volunteers since 2006, after six people nearly died at Northwick Park Hospital when a Phase 1 trial of the antibody TGN1412 went disastrously wrong.

It was the first time the drug had been tested on humans and one volunteer was described by his girlfriend as afterwards looking like 'the Elephant Man.'

However, Intercell's travellers' vaccine has already been tested on humans in laboratory conditions, as well as in a field study with 170 American volunteers.

Results published in The Lancet revealed the vaccine reduced the incidence of diarrhoea by 75 per cent.

'We are looking for people who have already planned to go to Mexico or Guatemala and think this would add another interesting aspect,' Intercell clinical director Nigel Thomas told The Independent.

'We cover their expenses - flights and accommodation - nothing beyond that.

'It is almost like going on a package holiday. They will be met by a concierge who will take them to their hotel and arrange for them to give their first blood sample within 48 hours.'

He added that the study would be compromised if volunteers only ate at five-star hotels, but added: 'If a traveller is interested in the country they will end up eating outside hotel restaurants.'
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