POSTED: 6:29 a.m. CST November 27, 2002
UPDATED: 7:59 a.m. CST November 27, 2002
In a Unit 5 report,
Dave Savini reported on new concerns about the polio vaccine: A virus
discovered inside some contaminated vaccine has also been found in certain
Report: Vaccine Virus
Some medical researchers and family members of cancer patients are now
calling for more research funding, in hopes of learning more about the
possible link between the polio vaccine and cancer.
Following is the transcript of Savini's report, "Vaccine Virus."
Dave Savini: At age two and a half, Stacey Girardi and Tim
Brennan battled the same brain cancer -- an ependymoma. Both had tumors
removed. Years later, Tim is doing well.
(Addressing Tim) You feel good now?
Savini: But part of Stacey's tumor remains, and she suffers from
Stacey: Made me lose the back of my hair and my hearing.
Savini: Mark Moreno had the same kind of tumor removed when he
was two and a half years old, too. His surgery left him permanently
disabled, and he now wears a helmet to protect his head.
What connects these three people is a fear over what was found in
Moreno's case, inside his tumor: a virus typically not found in humans but
in monkeys -- Simian Virus 40 or SV-40.
It's a virus that's also been found in a contaminated vaccine: the
polio vaccine. Scientists used monkeys to grow the polio vaccine in the
late 1950s and early 1960s. They later learned the monkeys were infected
with SV40, and an unknown number of people were given the vaccine that
contained the virus.
(Addressing a physician) You believe SV40 causes cancer?
Dr. Michele Carbone (Loyola Medical Center): SV40 is a virus
that is capable of causing cancer.
Savini: Mark Moreno's SV40 was found when his tumor was tested
for it. That type of testing is uncommon, and neither Stacey nor Tim's
tumors were tested. But their parents want to know if that's what caused
their rare cancers, and they want the government to fund more studies.
Melony Girardi (Stacey's Mother): If they are indeed doing
research on ependymomas and finding that there is SV40 in them, everyone
diagnosed with ependymoma -- their tumor, their specimen of that tumor
should be tested.
Eileen Brennan (son had cancer): I don't understand why they
won't unless somewhere out there somebody is trying to cover something up.
Savini: There is now growing concern that the polio vaccine that
was given to millions may also have exposed people to cancer. Dozens of
medical research studies are now confirming the link between the monkey
virus and some tumors.
There's new concern that the virus can spread, but researchers are not
sure how. Meanwhile, lawsuits are being filed claiming that more recent
polio vaccines have been infected with the same virus.
Stacey and Tim were too young to have received the original batch of
The same is true for Moreno, who lives in New Jersey. So how did he get
infected? Moreno's mother filed a lawsuit claiming that later versions of
the polio vaccine also were contaminated. Their lawsuit claims that drug
manufacturers did not get rid of the SV40 when the government ordered it
(to be done) in 1961.
Loyola doctors Michele Carbone and John Lednicky, both of Loyola
Medical Center, have been researching SV40 for years. They fear young
people are testing positive for SV40 because, somehow, the virus is
One discovery that leads them to believe this is that, in 1997, Carbone
tested an unused vial of the 40-year-old tainted polio vaccine. It was the
only one known to exist, and it tested positive for SV40.
An identical strain of SV40 was found in tumors of non-Hodgkins
Lymphoma patients, in Texas. All the patients were too young to have
received the originally contaminated vaccines from teh 1950s and early
Carbone: At least some of the virus came from the vaccine, yes,
Lednicky: Some people would say that it was a smoking gun.
Savini: It's a smoking gun to researchers who are trying to find
out if the virus is spreading, and how. Is it spread from a parents who
were vaccinated to their children? Or is it spread from person to person?
Researchers are hoping for more funding to study this, along with
SV40's link to cancer.
Melony Girardi: It needs to be stopped. It needs to be checked.
Savini: It's important to know that even if you have SV40 in
your system, that does not mean you will get cancer -- just like so many
of us spend time in the sun but never get skin cancer.
SV40 experts, including Dr. Carbone, say that the benefits of the polio
vaccine far outweight any potential risks, and even he made sure he was
With regards to the lawsuits, at least four have been filed.
Drug manufacturers and some medical researchers say the polio vaccine
has been free of the monkey virus for decades, and that includes the
vaccine on the market today.
Today the polio vaccine is tested to ensure it is free of the virus.
But the link between the virus and tumors remains a medical mystery,
and many researchers are urging that more funding be provided to study
Copyright 2002 by
NBC5.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.