thumbnail of Medical research; Viruses
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
The following program is produced by the University of Michigan broadcasting service under a grant of aid from the National Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters. The virus is a program from the series human behavior social and medical research produced by the University of Michigan Broadcasting Service. These programs have been developed from interviews with men and women who have the too often unglamorous job of basic research and research in medicine in the physical sciences social sciences and the behavioral sciences. The people you will hear today are Dr. Jerome t Silverton head of the department of bacteriology and immunology at the University of Minnesota and Dr. John F. Ender's of Harvard University's Medical School and the Children's Medical Center in Boston. And my name is Glenn Philips. So Common has the word virus become of late in our everyday vocabulary that we sometimes overlook its importance. A virus is very small.
Thousands upon thousands would fit on the head of a common straight pin. If one should question their importance for medical research these few facts may be of help. There are about 700 million virus infections in the United States in a single year. These include mumps measles chicken pox influenza and the old fashioned common cold. Millions of manpower hours are lost because of virus infection. And millions more in school hours are lost by school children. We can see readily then that it does not take a computing machine to tell us of the suffering and manpower loss resulting from these microscopic demons. Are they similar to bacteria or are they something totally different. Dr. Jerome t 17 of the University of Minnesota tells us. First question brings to mind a problem that used to bother us years ago namely whether viruses were alive or not.
Nowadays we do not find such a distinction important because we realize that all things living and non-living represent a hierarchy of organization. They complexity of this organization confers more and more capabilities on the organized entities. Bacteria like ourselves are what we call organisms. If we consider a very simple model of an organism we see that it is an organization able to manufacture itself. And its progeny according to definite plan as an organism. It has an important ability to manufacture the plant itself. So we say it is self we reproduce and it converts raw materials into repartee has of itself. And incorporates in them instructions for doing likewise. A bacterium or any other organism therefore contains
instructions in the form of molecules of rival nucleic acid for pursuing its existence and reproducing itself. A virus on the other hand consists of such instructions in molecular form. Wrapped up in apparatus that causes a virus to be delivered into a cell. When the two meet once inside the cell the viral molecular. He instructs the cell to manufacture more borrow code and to wrap it up into the necessary apparatus for its delivery. The so does soul at its own expense and hence suffers in the process. My verses are packaged blueprints for subservience of cells bacteria function to live and reproduce viruses function only to reproduce viruses are there for particles of nuclear protein totally
dependent on cells to provide the machinery of reproduction. What about the connection between animal and plant viruses I asked Dr John Enders of Harvard University how the plant an animal virus is different. There is no fundamental difference in dying over green plant and animal viruses as we know today they're both doing protein and nucleic acid. However among the animal by refusing to show him prick actually been distinguished a cuckold right wouldn't create a virus and the days are created Ribot nucleic acid by the. Wow. Among the plant you're going to providers I know
they are all rival nucleic acid viruses as you know the new great average. The. Recent lot of recent work of the queen found to be the determining factor of the genetic character issue of all organisms as well as viruses to complement each other or study history I mean what really. You mean the plant and animal virus that. The. Amount of virus developing in an infected plant is very large compared with that found in most animal infection.
Therefore the plant virus fish provide the source of abundant material for the chemist to analyze and from which you can obtain viruses and proceeding in pure condition. Still it remains paramount that the hope of virus research ultimately will lead to a complete cure these diseases. What then are the principal research problems remaining doctor superintending numerate did the first use how to treat and prevent virus infection. And the second is to discover how rare it is cause disease. We still do not know exactly how a virus does destroy individual cells. And we do not know yet whether clinical disease may be attributed solely to effects on individual cells. In some instances hypersensitivity allergy appears to play a role in animal virus disease. Also we do not know why some people are resistant to a
particular virus disease when their cells may be entirely susceptible in the test tube. Apart from these practical problems there is one great fundamental problem still to be solved. That problem is how a virus causes a cell to cease its beneficial activities. And begin manufacturing parts for more virus. We know that this action is accomplished by the rubber nucleic acid structure of the virus. And that somehow it replaces a part of the analogous structure of the cell. But we do not know precisely how a cell is made subservient to virus. This problem is most important because a solution will not only tell us the basis of virus infection but also tell us how AIDS sell direct its own activities. In this area
as in others. The study of viruses will make valuable contributions to our knowledge of biology and medicine. In addition to its contribution to knowledge of viruses themselves I was fortunate to see many interesting things in research laboratories during the period I visited these people. One was seeing a crystallization of a virus and I wondered why this was important to research. Dr. enders explained it in this way. Well the same kind of rounds are important to isolate any biologically active compound such as almost an enzyme because only when that is done and the precise chemistry redefined and. When and that is one done why there may
be a possibility of modifying the chemical structure of the virus at will in ways that we would like to my fire in the direction of decreased Durance so that it might be used as a vaccine in the development of vaccines now it should consist of living right. Well the proposed living virus vaccine against polio the development is largely empirical. It just under certain conditions change and we are in for a decrease in virulence may take place too but it doesn't always show and we can't predict with certainty that it will. If the chemical structure of barges currently known
why it might be possible to model. Them for any degree of that one wish. Along the same lines I asked Dr simpleton how the study of physical and chemical properties of a virus might lead to therapy. That's a difficult question at the moment. I do not know of any preventive or therapeutic application of physical and chemical study of viruses. I have no doubt a Doctor Stein. Felt similarly when he derived the relation between energy and matter which underlie the atom bomb. Biologists however have many ideas how they might devise a preventive or therapeutic applications. If they knew enough about the physical and chemical properties of viruses among these are the possibility of manufacturing artificial viruses
which like that to me a virus could be used to immunize people against disease producing irises. So ultimately biologist hope also eventually to discover an anti metabolite to interfere with the process of virus infection just as and about AIDS now are used to interfere with bacterial infection. More practical aspects of physical and chemical study are already useful. The successful and the successful manufacture. Of the inactivated polio vaccine depended on determining the effect of chemical treatment of polio virus on its immunizing capacity and its infective capacity I referred to viruses at the beginning as microscopic demons. But is it possible that there is a good virus as well as a bad virus.
Dr Silverton told me in reply Of course there are many useful viruses. I'm sure that you yourself bear the scar one of the most useful of the viruses the bacteria virus used to immunize you to smallpox. That sone A virus is quite distinct from the virus that causes smallpox but is sufficiently related to be useful for immunization. You may remember also that the Australians employed a virus but Soma ptosis to control the rabbits that Roone pasture and he meant for their sheep a less familiar example is provided by the identification of many bacteria responsible for human disease by the use of bacterial viruses. These viruses or bacteria phage attack staffer Cox III or other bacteria specifically these viruses that can be used to trace the outbreaks of a specific viral
infection. Another useful purpose is highly visionary but perhaps possible many years hence in defining a virus. I emphasized that it was essentially a set of instructions for the operation of study or processes. Now human genes also represent such instructions. Some viruses that attack bacteria can transfer portions of the genetic apparatus of cells from one cell to another. During the course of infection we know that a number of human diseases result because portions of the chromosome structure of cells are altered. Diabetes is a good example of this sort of disease. It is interesting to speculate. Although I emphasize that the idea is pure speculation that someday we might use viruses to transfer genetic information from cells in tissue culture into the
cells of patients with diseases like diabetes. If we could do this it might be possible to cure such diseases permanently. I should hasten. To add that we know far too little about the process of transference to foresee this sort of practical application in the very near future. So we can see that there are useful or good viruses. And that virus is it some future date may be applied beneficially. Unfortunately the viruses still exist today in their present structure to wreak havoc on all mankind. Through loss of work hours school hours and general discomfort as any of us who have had a cold will attest. But all the diseases produced by viruses ones of mortality or morbidity. Dr enders supplies us with that answer. Well of course we can and depending on the on the matter. In general I would say that the
more far greater than the mortality. There are a few exceptions to that. If one actually develops rabies foam bite of a mad animal are. Almost certain to die. Buddy. Generally mortality is moderate and mobility. And in many borrowing fiction as the ruler may be entirely you know pregnant or non clinical infection. Which is not recognised by the individual who has it on the provision but nevertheless
it causes you to become resistant. This is true. Rash majority of people on the go or. In you know infection with a virus. Paralytic is really an exception in the course of reading fiction through the population. Viruses were scientifically all know at the beginning of this century. But in those relatively few years great advances have been made. I asked Dr Anders what he felt were the greatest of these advances. Well because he's darkly I mean really begins really well perhaps with an inoculation against a smallpox a tree introduced Lady Mary would be Montagu into England from the Near East in the early 18th century
which Bushman was inoculated with actual smallpox virus but by an unnatural rooter Miche that usually resulted in a mild form of smallpox which include protection against the subsequent exposure and the disease research form of all of this. Appreciate you were widely used and acceptable for City. Real beginning with Jan I will go with the vaccination against smallpox using cowpox rection your virus or bacteria or virus. Which reduces your drycleaning infection but protects against smallpox.
He was in an unfortunate position to treat dish a particular direction the rank Sheen we could of the widespread view should the inoculation method. Who could challenge the people whom he had vaccinated with the cow Clark actually inoculating them with the smallpox virus and showing that they were protected. Then of course they greeted ranchers with the rabies vaccine. And. Of the very recent invention I have put foremost discovery by
gear and Gemini and Frankel Conrad the book the virus Laboratory in California the effectiveness of. Pure viral nucleic acid of the new great acid separated from Or well as they can determine from all other constituents of the virus shown to be capable of causing disease. And this means that this single although very complex chemical compound. It is in itself capable of initiating multiplication of more of yourself and the
virus is very important discovery not only from the viral point of view but from the point of view of biology in general and the understanding of a living rush issue grows and. Reproduction and inheritor. Research programmes being conducted on the viruses are many and world wide. To get some idea what things are important in research I asked both Dr. Sibert and Dr Anders to tell us something of their current research. First Dr. Silver to run other research programs is concerned with viruses particularly the Enderle viruses which polio virus is one. This program is concerned with the mechanism of virus infection of mammalian cells.
With improvements of methods already tension of these viruses. With study of the epidemiology of viral diseases and with the risk of viruses in congenital anomalies. A second program is concerned with biologic genetic physiological and biochemical mechanisms that determined the activity of the animal's cells and their response to a virus infection including malignant alteration. A third program concerned with the study of human normal tissue and tumor specimens obtained at Operation biopsy to isolate cancer causing viruses if present. The three programs and the training program are locking. We are studying destructive viruses animal cell hosts and tumor viruses at the
same time. Because every advance in one area stimulates advances in the other. The research experience provided by the three programs is valuable to train more researchers. And this we believe is a function of the associated printing program. To mention briefly three studies in my laboratory that have excited US research most recently two of my associates doctors McLaren and Holland have succeeded in infecting normally immune cells refractory cells with an assortment of Endor of viruses including the virus support your myelitis by using only the rubber nucleic acid fraction of the virus. Nuclear protein of the whole virus. Another associate Dr Brand has been studying illogical differences in cells of different species origin. Dr. Clawson is studying the chromosome constitution of human cells
abnormal and malignant origin. First as a means of identifying altered cells and secondly as a possible means recognizing the effect of tumor virus infection. I mention these among the studies from our other associates retries as I mentioned earlier we find them exciting. And now Dr. enders tells us of his research at Boston. Well we were in room. During real time the last few years through the study of the measles virus. And lately specifically in attempting to prepare a vaccine consisting of a living attenuated virus
might be fake. Preventing the disease. Usually with nine and nobody worries much about it would occasionally it is followed by a rather serious consequences and in some parts of the world or it is a real problem whether sanitation is poor and medical treatment. Not real sure that these complications are secondary bacterial infections and fearful of the development. Because a good deal of severe illness and even death. Sure. We've been working on it. Those practical reasons and also because it's interesting.
Biological problem and not to conclude this program I asked Dr. Silverton for his views on the future prospects for Virology. I have already indicated what certainly will be future trends in fundamental Raji general trends I feel rebel concerned with problems of cancer causation primarily. We already are engaged extensively in research to see what viruses may be responsible for human malignant disease. This interest will be accompanied increasingly by study of non destructive viruses. To find out how a virus that could confer malignant potentialities on cells biologists and biochemists will continue to concentrate on the process. A virus that says by cells rather current in biology will continue. For example I will cite three. First
many new viruses of human disease have been added to the normal list in the past five years 50 or 75 and there is no indication that the list is complete. Secondly production of the scenes work continue to be an important activity of biologists. Thirdly an area that deserving of continued inexpensive expanded study. Is a possible route of viruses in congenital anomalies. Research in this area is already being supported by the National Foundation. The trends will continue to be both theoretical and practical. If in 10 years or so if you were to ask again what was the most important recent advance in viral GI perhaps you might receive the answer that a virus had been completely synthesized chemically. Next week you will hear Dr. C. Walton Lillie Hi Dr. Willis. Jay Potts
and Dr. John given Jr. as they discuss surgery for heart disease the first of three programs on this subject. On the next program from the series human behavior social and medical research consultant for this program was Dr. Fred Davenport of the University of Michigan's School of Public Health and Medical School planned Phillippe speaking asking that you join us next week and thanking you for being with us at this time. This program has been produced by the University of Michigan broadcasting service under a grant in aid from the National Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters. This is the NEA E.B. Radio Network.
Medical research
Producing Organization
University of Michigan
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-gf0mxc4r).
Episode Description
This program focuses on viruses and the study of them. Guests are John F. Enders, MD and Jerome T. Syverton, MD.
Series Description
This series explores current developments in research in the fields of the behavioral sciences and medicine.
Broadcast Date
Virus diseases--Research--History.
Media type
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Guest: Enders, John F.
Guest: Syverton, Jerome T.
Host: Grauer, Ben
Producer: Phillips, Glen
Producing Organization: University of Michigan
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 60-64-6 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:09
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “Medical research; Viruses,” 1960-12-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed December 8, 2023,
MLA: “Medical research; Viruses.” 1960-12-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. December 8, 2023. <>.
APA: Medical research; Viruses. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from