Medicine: Closing in on Polio

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Some critics object to Salk's use of the Mahoney-(Type I) strain of virus because if any live particles slipped through they could cause severe paralysis after injection into muscle. Dr. Salk answers that if no live particles can get through, it cannot matter what they might do. And he makes sure, by the most rigorous testing that he has been able to devise, that every virus particle is killed. ^ Dr. Salk has had no unfavorable reactions with his vaccine. On the evidence to date, there is no reason for parents to withhold permission for their children to take the shots soon to be offered. If any unfavorable reactions develop, they are likely to be minor, and if serious, as rare as the one case in 10,000 that reacts badly to diphtheria vaccine. A verdict on the effectiveness of the Salk vaccine, for a single polio season, must await Dr. Francis' report a year from now. Dr. Salk has high hope that his vaccine will lead the way to lifelong immunity; proof of this will take more years.

'This year's mass trials are the greatest gamble in medical history," says a polio researcher, who, admittedly, favors a live-virus vaccine. But the gamble is sure to pay off one way or another. If the Salk vaccine is effective for even one season, 1954 will be a year of signal victory against polio; if it is not, little will have 3een lost and much knowledge gained for a new attack.

-Isolated in Dr. Salk's laboratories from James Sarkett, now 14, when he had paralytic polio four years ago. His name was not clear on the specimen bottle and a researcher misread it as "Saukett." In this form it is now perpetuated, beyond hope of correction, in countless scientific publications. -Hence the name, poliomyelitis—literally, inflammation of the grey marrow (part of the spinal cord). -Both his brothers chose careers on the borders of medicine. Herman. 34, is a veterinarian in Mars, Pa. Lee, 27, is a candidate for a Ph.D.

in clinical psychology at the University of Michigan. -Instead of the famed old Brunhilde strain (named for a chimpanzee used in polio research at Johns Hopkins).

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