a story lives forever
Sign in
Form submission failed!

Stay signed in

Recover your password?
Form submission failed!

Web of Stories Ltd would like to keep you informed about our products and services.

Please tick here if you would like us to keep you informed about our products and services.

I have read and accepted the Terms & Conditions.

Please note: Your email and any private information provided at registration will not be passed on to other individuals or organisations without your specific approval.

Video URL

You must be registered to use this feature. Sign in or register.


The Marburg virus stalls polio vaccine production


The military and the production of an adenovirus vaccine
Leonard Hayflick Scientist
Comments (0) Please sign in or register to add comments

Returning now to the scientific aspects of this story, there was huge fermentation of activity in the mid-'60s. One of the first things that happened in respect to vaccine development, which will become more important in subsequent years, is that the military in the United States was well aware of the group of adenoviruses that I described earlier, some of which I worked with as a postdoctoral student in Charlie Pomerat's lab, and that several of these viruses within that group caused an upper respiratory disease in military recruits. This, of course, was not limited to the United States. It happened in European facilities of a similar nature, and in college dormitories, and it was very debilitating. It was like a serious common cold. It wasn't life threatening, usually, but recruits would come together and hundreds of them would have to be hospitalized or put to bed for a week, and this was enormously expensive, and all of the other problems that would be apparent.

The military decided to produce... to try to produce a vaccine to... to resolve this problem. They set about to do it. I was not directly involved, although they knew that WI-26 and/or 38 was capable of growing these viruses. They did get starter cultures from me, and did the necessary research to produce a vaccine, to try it out in the military, and ultimately discover that it was successful. This is an important point, because the laws in the United States do not require the military to have any product like that that they develop under contract to be tested and approved by either... by the then Division of Biologic Standards, which is the group at the NIH that approves civilian biological products.

So the military has this freedom to bypass the usual control authorities. Of course, they attempt to be as careful and critical as they can be. They're not trying to evade the law or to get away with anything, they simply by law have that power, and they took advantage of that. And in the early '60s, soon after I published my work, they produced a successful adenovirus vaccine, and I believe it's been produced off and on ever since, also in other countries in Europe.

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: Division of Biological Standards, Charles Pomerat

Duration: 3 minutes, 22 seconds

Date story recorded: July 2011

Date story went live: 08 August 2012