History of Koprowski Vaccine Against Poliomyelitis



It all started, like much in science, with prior failure and frustration. Poliomyelitis had become prominent late in the nineteenth century, and by the middle of the twentieth was an epidemic disease that fascinated laymen and scientists alike. In 1946, we knew from the work of Landsteiner and Popper in 1909 [1] that polio was caused by a virus, and from the work of Burnet and McNamara [2] that there was more than one type of poliovirus, although we did not know how many until 1951 [3]. Nevertheless, it had been established that prior infection protected primates against subsequent homologous infection, which suggested that a vaccine was ­possible. But how? The only possible substrate at that time was monkey spinal cord. Two separate attempts were made in 1935 to inactivate such suspensions, one with formalin and one with sodium ricinoleate: both failed, and many cases of poliomyelitis were caused by the vaccines, some fatal [4, 5]. Thus, it was back to the drawing board for virologists.


Acquire Immune Deficiency Syndrome Oral Polio Vaccine Paralytic Poliomyelitis Yellow Fever Vaccine Inactivate Polio Vaccine 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Jefferson Cancer InstituteThomas Jefferson UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA

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