Medicine: Closing in on Polio

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In northern India's state of Uttar Pradesh last week, Moslem trappers working in teams of four set out their nets before dawn. While three hid, one man walked to a clump .of trees. Loudly he called "Ao! ao! ao!" (Come! come! come!), and began to scatter grain. Rhesus monkeys scrambled down and followed his grain trail. When the monkeys got to the grain in the trap, a hidden operator pulled a cord and meshed them in the netting, an average dozen at a time.

The Moslems (no Hindu will do this work because of religious scruples) stuffed the monkeys into bamboo cages and carried them on shoulder poles into Lucknow. The train hauled them 260 miles to New Delhi. There, 1,000 specimens carefully chosen for health and size (4 to 8 Ibs. apiece) were collected. Then a four-engine transport flew them, with a full-time attendant to feed and water them three times a day, the 4,000 miles to London. Next, another plane and another attendant took them 3,000 miles to New York's Idlewild Airport and trucks carried them 700 miles to Okatie Farms in South Carolina. There the rhesus monkeys from India were caged with other hordes of "Java" (Cynomolgus) monkeys from the Philippines, to be used as ammunition in a great battle now being fought by medical science. The enemy: polio.

Though Okatie Farms may receive 5,000 or more monkeys a month, the supply never catches up with the demand. After 21 days for rigorous health checks, they are on their way to laboratories in Toronto, Pittsburgh, Detroit and Berkeley, Calif.

From South to North. The man behind most of this monkey business (the biggest in history) is Jonas Edward Salk, 39, an intense, single-minded medical researcher who spends his days and a large part of his nights in the University of Pittsburgh's Virus Research Laboratory. Behind Salk. in turn, are Si million of the 3 billion dimes that the U.S. public has given to the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis.

This spring. Dr. Salk's vision and his delicate laboratory procedures and logarithmic calculations are to be put to the test. Beginning next month in the South and working North ahead of the polio season, the vaccine that Salk has devised and concocted will be shot into the arms of 500,000 to 1.000,000 youngsters in the first, second and third grades in nearly 200 chosen test areas. A few months after the 1954 polio season is over, statisticians will dredge from a mountain of records an answer to the question: Does the Salk vaccine give effective protection against polio?

Dr. Salk's laboratories could not produce more than a fraction of the hundreds of gallons of vaccine needed for such a massive trial. So it is being made according to his specifications on a nonprofit basis by five pharmaceutical houses—Parke, Davis & Co. in Detroit. Pitman-Moore and Eli Lilly & Co. in Indianapolis, Wyeth Inc. in Philadelphia, the Cutter Laboratories in Berkeley, Calif. For all of them, the indispensable raw material is the monkey, and the procedure is much the same. For example:

The University of Toronto's Connaught

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