Vaccines against diseases caused by viruses have traditionally been made from animals or their tissues but this can be dangerous as contaminants from animal tissues have produced fatal results in people.(50) Furthermore, cancer-causing viruses have been found in cells from primates, dogs, chicks and ducks which are used in the preparation of vaccines. The cancer-causing viruses such as SV40 which contaminate tissue from primates only become dangerous when they cross the species barrier,(50) so the use of human cells to make human viral vaccines would seem the safest approach. Today, vaccines for many viral diseases such as polio, rubella, measles, mumps, smallpox, rabies and diseases caused by arboviruses such as yellow fever, can all be produced from test tube cultures of human cells.
As long ago as 1970, P. B. Stone of the pharmaceutical company Pfizer's Therapeutic Research Division warned that
"There is always the prospect of a new or unknown virus which would not be detected by the present battery of tests. The situation would be unsatisfactory in the case of a non-pathogenic organism, but disastrous if the undetected virus were pathogenic for man."(51)
Indeed, scientists suspect that monkeys may be the origin of the human epidemic of AIDS. Writing in the science journal Nature, Drs. Sergio Giunta and Giuseppe Groppa of the INRCA Clinical Laboratory in Ancena, Italy, ask whether the transfer of a monkey virus to humans could be linked with the beginning in the 1950s of a massive trade in primates from Africa to Western countries for virus research and studies into the production and control of polio vaccines. In their view, such events inevitably involved more contact between the human population and the monkeys they captured and transported.(52)
In Britain, polio vaccine is made from human diploid cells by the Wellcome Research Laboratories yet despite the risks of contamination, primates are still widely used for the purpose in other countries.(53)
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