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WISTAR INSTITUTE RESPONDS TO ROLLING STONE ARTICLE

 WISTAR INSTITUTE RESPONDS TO ROLLING STONE ARTICLE
 PHILADELPHIA, March 6 /PRNewswire/ -- The following was issued today


by The Wistar Institute:
 The March 19 issue of Rolling Stone magazine contains an article by freelance writer Tom Curtis claiming that an oral polio vaccine originally developed by former Wistar Institute Director Hilary Koprowski, M.D., might be associated with the origin of AIDS.
 Dr. Koprowski began work on the vaccine in 1946, when he was a researcher at the Lederle Laboratories in Pearl River, N.Y. He came to Philadelphia as director of The Wistar Institute in 1957 and continued to work on the vaccine, which was widely used for the immunization of humans in the Belgian Congo (an area that now comprises Zaire, Rwanda and Burundi), where there had been at least four epidemic outbreaks of paralytic poliomyelitis. Dr. Koprowski's oral polio vaccine was also widely used in Poland and Switzerland.
 Like other polio vaccines developed by Dr. Jonas Salk and Dr. Albert B. Sabin, the Koprowski vaccine was grown in kidney tissues obtained from monkeys. The Rolling Stone article hypothesizes that the AIDS epidemic might have originated from vaccine containing an undetected simian (monkey) retrovirus. However, while viruses similar to the HIV virus have been identified in monkeys, none has ever been found which is identical to the virus that causes AIDS in humans. The author of the Rolling Stone article raises the theoretical possibility that a retrovirus contamination of the polio vaccine could have occurred and might have, under certain circumstances, triggered the AIDS disease.
 Although the author cites only circumstantial factors in presenting his hypothesis, Wistar Director Giovanni Rovera, M.D., has called for establishment of a committee to evaluate the Rolling Stone speculations "in the interests of responsible scientific research and accurate reporting." The committee will be named shortly, and will include prominent scientists from outside the Institute (as well as from within).
 During the polio epidemic -- which raged through the 1940s and 50s, striking more than 22,000 people in the U.S. a year -- many virologists conducted research to develop an effective vaccine to eradicate the disease, most notably: Dr. Koprowski, Dr. Sabin, at Children's Hospital in Cincinnati; and Dr. Salk, at the University of Pittsburgh and, later, at the University of Michigan. The Rolling Stone article focuses on efforts of these and other scientists to develop vaccines, which ultimately saved millions of people from the tragic effects of polio virus.
 The Wistar Institute, one of the nation's leading biomedical research organizations, has maintained a reputation for pioneering work and ground-breaking accomplishments since its founding 100 years ago. The Institute is well known in the world scientific community for its achievements in the development of antiviral vaccines, such as the rubella (German measles) and rabies vaccines, as well as for research on the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
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 /CONTACT: Warren B. Cheston, Ph.D., of The Wistar Institute, 215-898-3706/ CO: The Wistar Institute; Rolling Stone magazine ST: Pennsylvania IN: MTC SU:


MK-LJ -- PH007 -- 5807 03/06/92 10:50 EST
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Date:Mar 6, 1992
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