[back] SV40

Regarding: "The Virus and the Vaccine (article)" by Debbie Bookchin and Jim Schumacher

The Atlantic Monthly, February 2000

by Raphaele and Michael Horwin

We would like to bring attention to a rather important article which was published in the February 2000 edition of The Atlantic Monthly magazine that investigates a link between certain vaccines and cancer. We encourage you to read this eleven page article and learn about the groundbreaking science that is developing in this area.

This article discusses research into a highly carcinogenic virus named Simian Virus 40 (SV40). The original source for this virus is attributed to a particular species of monkeys which was used in the manufacture of vaccines. In 1960, SV40 was recognized as a tumor virus (a virus that creates cancers in laboratory animals) and as a known contaminant of the poliovirus and adenovirus vaccines. The following quote comes from the FDA in 1997: "The discovery in 1960 that a DNA tumor virus, designated simian virus 40 (SV40), was an inadvertent contaminant of rhesus monkey cells, and consequently the poliovirus and adenovirus vaccines that were made in these cells, was a watershed event in vaccine development...it confronted the scientific and regulatory community with the very problem that they had sought to avoid in vaccine development..." (From: Andrew M. Lewis Jr., William M. Egan, Office of Vaccine Research and Review, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration as published in Simian Virus 40 (SV40) A Possible Human Polyomavirus, Natcher Auditorium, NIH, Betheseda, Maryland, USA , 1997).

Last month, the National Cancer Institute admitted that SV40 plays a role in the genesis of a type of very aggressive human lung cancer called mesothelioma. This quote comes from a recent article published by the NCI: "Collectively, these data suggest that SV40 oncoproteins contribute to the malignant phenotype of plural mesotheliomas..." (From: Waheed I, Schrump DS et. al. Antisense to SV40 Early Gene Region Induces Growth Arrest and Apoptosis in T-Antigen-positive Human Pleural Mesothelioma Cells, CANCER RESEARCH 59, 6068-6073, December 15, 1999)

The Atlantic Monthly article states, "In 1961 federal health officials ordered vaccine manufacturers to screen for the virus and eliminate it from the vaccine. Worried about creating a panic, they kept the discovery of SV40 under wraps and never recalled existing stocks. For two more years, millions of additional people were needlessly expossed - bringing the total to 98 million Americans from 1955 to 1963."

The Atlantic Monthly article focuses on the work of Michele Carbone M.D. Ph.D. of Loyola University Chicago in Illinois, a scientist of great integrity who has studied SV40 for the past 10 years. Dr. Carbone and his colleagues have played a key role in moving this science forward, reexamining SV40 and understanding its potential role in human cancers especially mesotheliomas. The article also mentions that various researchers from around the world have found SV40 in a number of human tumors including mesotheliomas and various kinds of brain cancer (i.e. glioblastomas, astrocytomas, ependymomas, medulloblastomas, and papillomas of the choroid plexus). Many of these cancers are on the rise.

Using modern DNA technology (PCR) Dr. Carbone recently tested unopened vials of poliovaccine manufactured in 1955 and detected two kinds of SV40. Unfortunately, the tests used by the poliovaccine manufacturers for the past 40 years to ensure that the vaccine is SV40-free has only focused on one type of SV40. Dr. Carbone suggests that this test is not sensitive enough (nor was it designed to be) to detect the second kind of SV40 which is as carcinogenic as the first type. Dr. Carbone and his colleagues wrote, "(the tissue culture cytopathic test) currently used in the United States to screen oral poliovaccines was...not sensitive enough to detect low amounts of the slow replicating SV40 virions..." (From: Rizzo P, Di Resta I, Powers A, Ratner H, Carbone M; Unique Strains of SV40 in Commercial Poliovaccines from 1955 Not Readily Identifiable with Current Testing for SV40 Infection, CANCER RESEARCH 59, 6103-6108, December 15, 1999).

It must also be noted that in that same paper, Dr. Carbone tested 12 current vials of oral poliovaccines and found that they did not contain either type of SV40.

Has SV40 been passed on from parents to children? Why is the virus found in the tumors of children born well after 1963?

Today, as opposed to 40 years ago, technology exists to ensure that current vaccines are free of this dangerous contaminant. The vaccine manufacturers have continued to use the antiquated test (i.e. tissue culture cytopathic tests) instead of more sophisticated approaches (i.e. DNA/PCR) that could detect the virus with greater precision. Clearly, the increased cost of the more sophisticated tests is a factor. In the same paper quoted above, Dr. Carbone also wrote, "Our data also suggest that instead of cytopathic tests, immunohistochemical and/or molecular studies should be used to screen poliovaccines for SV40 to completely eliminate the risk of occasional contamination."


Raphaele and Michael Horwin