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Helping people, not profitting


Lack of renumeration from Merck for use of WI-38
Leonard Hayflick Scientist
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These companies... taking Merck as one example; Merck has had... has produced its rubella vaccine... and I'll talk about this in more detail later, but I want to complete this story of the use of WI-38. Merck has had a monopoly on the production of a Rubella German Measles vaccine in the western hemisphere for a decade or more in addition to other vaccines produced in these cells: rabies, polio, measles, mumps, adenoviruses, etc., in which they have grossed several billion dollars.

Nothing in the form of financial remuneration has ever been returned to either Paul Moorhead... and I'm going to list the potential likely stakeholders: Paul Moorhead, myself, the Wistar Institute and the estate of the foetus from which WI-38 was derived – it happened to be a foetus to me from Sweden, and I'll talk about that... the reason for that later.

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: Merck

Duration: 1 minute, 29 seconds

Date story recorded: July 2011

Date story went live: 08 August 2012