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The debate on the use of passaged cells for vaccine production


Opposition to my observations on monkey kidney cell cultures
Leonard Hayflick Scientist
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The monkey importation industry – and it was an industry – didn't want to see this changed. Many scientists who were worried about the use of normal human cells, Albert Sabin in particular... A few years during this debate, Albert tried to make the case that my normal human cells probably contained Hepatitis virus, at that time and still even to this day, a dangerous virus. He argued that, despite the fact that we didn't have accurate ways of detecting it in my cells, that it was possible that, although vaccinees receiving vaccines producing... producing cell populations did not do any harm to their current recipients, harm could show up in their children; that is, a generation could be skipped. Well, the same argument could be made about monkey kidneys, so it was a non-argument. I... in fact, Albert and I confronted each other in a British publication in letters to the editors, arguing this matter, along with a close friend of mine, who I'll describe in more detail in a moment. His name is Frank Perkins, a Brit who was the director of the equivalent of the Division of Biological Standardisation in the UK. He was located up at MRC in Hampstead.

Leonard Hayflick (b. 1928), the recipient of several research prizes and awards, including the 1991 Sandoz Prize for Gerontological Research, is known for his research in cell biology, virus vaccine development, and mycoplasmology. He also has studied the ageing process for more than thirty years. Hayflick is known for discovering that human cells divide for a limited number of times in vitro (refuting the contention by Alexis Carrel that normal body cells are immortal), which is known as the Hayflick limit, as well as developing the first normal human diploid cell strains for studies on human ageing and for research use throughout the world. He also made the first oral polio vaccine produced in a continuously propogated cell strain - work which contributed to significant virus vaccine development.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is a London-based television producer and director who has made a number of documentary films for BBC TV, Channel 4 and PBS.

Tags: Medical Research Council, Albert Sabin, Frank Perkins

Duration: 1 minute, 48 seconds

Date story recorded: July 2011

Date story went live: 08 August 2012