Armadillo-leprosy controversy

Misconduct in medical research by US Public Health Service scientists

About 1.4 billion people in developing countries are exposed to leprosy infection, of whom 750 thousand contract disease each year. To combat this problem, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched an all out effort to develop an anti-leprosy vaccine based on use of leprosy bacilli grown in nine-banded armadillos. After WHO was irrevocably committed, production of bacilli by armadillos plunged catastrophically because of misconduct by American scientists. The vaccine was an unmitigated failure. The anguish this caused can be read between the lines of WHO reports bewailing the frustrations encountered in working with low yielding armadillo tissues. Evidence for this debacle is contained in papers published in refereed scientific journals. These publications also present a soundly based theory on how armadillo productivity might be restored. Restoration to its full potential would stimulate future research and lead to the production of highly pure leprosy antigens for use in biological reagents. Despite these potential benefits to humanity, the US government has adamantly refused to hold open hearings on this problem. To justify their position, government officials have generated a wealth of false and misleading information. Thus, the US government has knowingly sacrificed the welfare of millions of leprosy victims and the principles on which good science is based rather than admit the facts. The full story is given in a 167-page document titled "Biomedical tsunamis: worldwide catastrophes by the US Public Health Service" by Harry P. Burchfield.

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