Purpose of the Studies. The origin of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) has been controversial. It is now generally accepted that HIV is a zoonosis, which occurred when simian immunodeficiency virus specific for chimpanzees (SIVcpz) was transmitted to humans. This likely occurred on several occasions in the past. It has been suggested in the lay literature that chimpanzee kidney cultures may have been used in the preparation of oral polio vaccine stocks used in Africa during the late 1950s and so could have introduced the virus into humans.
Methods. Molecular analysis of archived polio vaccines were studied independently by 3 groups.
Results. All 3 studies fail to find either chimpanzee components or HIV/SIV sequences in the polio vaccine stocks. Further, macaque monkey sequences were found, demonstrating that the technique for detection was appropriate, and that the source of the kidney cells used for vaccine development were macaque monkeys and not chimpanzees.
Conclusion. Polio vaccines did not transmit HIV to humans.
Reviewer’s Comments. Human vaccine development is complex, and the use of animal tissue cultures for vaccine production may allow contamination by microbes in the source material. The preparation of oral polio vaccines in the 1950s was done under conditions that would not meet current specifications for purity and safety. In 1999, Edward Hooper promulgated a theory about the transmission of HIV by early batches of oral polio vaccine supposedly grown in chimpanzee kidney cell cultures and tested in Africa. This theory had great social and political implications for the testing of new medical agents in developing countries. The articles reviewed demonstrate the vaccine stocks tested in Africa were not contaminated with HIV, were not prepared in chimpanzee cells, and were not responsible for the epidemic of HIV now ravaging the continent.
- Poinar H, Kuch M, Pääbo S. Science.2001;292 :743– 744
- Copyright © 2002 by the American Academy of Pediatrics