National News

Researcher Violated Rules, UCLA Says

April 16, 2003

This article is part of The Body PRO's archive. Because it contains information that may no longer be accurate, this article should only be considered a historical document.

On Tuesday, a University of California-Los Angeles medical oversight board found microbiology professor John L. Fahey violated federal rules by taking part in controversial medical studies in which AIDS patients in China were injected with malaria-infected blood. A statement issued by UCLA's institutional review board, which reviews medical experiments involving human subjects, found that Fahey did not participate directly in the controversial trials, but did, without requisite permission from the board, evaluate data and biological samples brought to the university by a Chinese scientist.

The research effort was sponsored by Dr. Henry Heimlich, the Heimlich Institute's founder and creator of the anti-choking Heimlich maneuver. The experiments seek to use the immune reaction induced by malaria as a possible AIDS treatment. Many AIDS researchers say the therapy could harm already ill patients by infecting them with another potentially deadly disease.

A second UCLA researcher, Najib Aziz, who was also investigated, was not found to have broken any rules, said UCLA spokesperson Max Benavidez. Aziz was working "under Dr. Fahey's purview," he said.

Fahey said he "regrets the misunderstanding this matter has caused." He said he became indirectly involved in the so-called malariotherapy research in 1997, when he was training a Chinese scientist, Xiao Ping Chen, during a three-month program at UCLA. At the time, Chen was testing blood serum collected several years earlier from patients he had infected with malaria. Fahey said that was "the only time specimens from malariotherapy patients were at UCLA."

Heimlich, however, appeared undeterred by the controversy. He recently announced that he is working with doctors to begin human tests of the therapy in five African nations.

UCLA's review board said Fahey had violated regulations and school policy for the protection of human subjects by not seeking approval from the university before allowing Chen to conduct research at UCLA. The university reiterated Tuesday that it "has never approved any research pertaining to malariotherapy studies for HIV." UCLA administrators will review the board's findings to determine whether discipline is required, Benavidez said.

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Adapted from:
Los Angeles Times
04.16.03; Rebecca Trounson; Charles Ornstein

This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.


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