A landmark for basic research in homeopathy
27 December 2017 (online)
It is now 16 years since the ‘Benveniste Affair’ erupted on the pages of the world's leading scientific journal Nature, and the dust has not yet settled. About the only thing that many scientists remember is the allegations of pseudoscience involving homeopathy. While it is Benveniste's counterallegations of witch hunting and McCarthyism which stuck in the minds of many in the homeopathic world. The controversy was renewed by a programme made by the BBC TV Horizon programme and broadcast in the UK in November 2002, and subsequently in many other countries, which alleged that experiments related to Benveniste's were irreproducible. Similar claims were broadcast by the US ABC Network's 20/20 programme earlier this year.
Meanwhile, in the background, the real, scientific story has been gradually unfolding. History may come to view a scientific paper published in the journal Inflammation Research in May, as a turning point in the scientific controversy surrounding homeopathy.[ 1 ] The experimental method concerned in all this is the Human Basophil Degranulation Test (HBDT), a well-established model of immune response. Basophils are leucocytes which play an important role in the anaphylactic reaction. Their cytoplasm contains granules containing histamine and other immune mediators which, when released, produce an allergic reaction. Degranulation is a manifestation of basophil activation. It can be observed in vitro and is the basis of the HBDT.
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