Sunday, September 24


Letters may link scientists to controversy

New evidence has surfaced possibly linking UCLA researchers John
Fahey and Najib Aziz to controversial malariotherapy experiments
conducted by the Heimlich Institute, based in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The two UCLA researchers are currently being investigated for a
possible connection with the Heimlich Institute’s
malariotherapy experiments in China.

Malariotherapy, which Dr. Henry Heimlich proposed in the early
1990s, involves the injection of a curable form of malaria into
human subjects as a treatment for AIDS. The high fevers caused by
malaria can restore and stimulate the weakened immune system of a
patient with HIV by causing it to produce more immune cells, the
opposite of what AIDS does, according to Heimlich.

The research has been discredited by the Center for Disease
Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

The Cincinnati Enquirer reported in an article on Feb. 16 that
it had obtained e-mails dating back to 1996 which linked Fahey and
Aziz with the Heimlich Institute’s research in China.

The Institutional Review Board of the Office for the Protection
of Research Subjects at UCLA reopened the investigation into Fahey
and Aziz’s potential involvement in the research earlier this
month after receiving new evidence. In December of last year, the
board found no evidence linking the scientists to the malaria
research.

Associate Director of the IRB, Steven Peckman, would not comment
on the new information that led to the reopening of the case.

In a letter to Heimlich dated Aug. 8, 1996, the Enquirer
reported Fahey described the malaria experiments as
“striking” and offered his continued support.

“I wondered if we could help you. … We could, perhaps,
develop a means of helping your Chinese colleagues in carrying out
their studies,” Fahey wrote in the letter according the
Enquirer.

The letter states that Fahey offered “assistance with
reagents and quality control samples for (test) measurements as
well as for other parameters of HIV infection.”

The Enquirer also reported that Fahey wrote an e-mail dated Nov.
10, 1998 to Dr. Xiao Ping Chen, who was trained by Fahey under the
UCLA/Fogarty AIDS International Training and Research Program
before returning to China to oversee the malariotherapy
experiments.

Established in 1997, the Fogarty Program provides AIDS control
training to visiting scholars from developing countries.

“I greatly appreciated all of the data you shared with us
on this visit,” The Enquirer reports in an e-mail Fahey wrote
to Chen.

“I want to assure you that we regard this as confidential
information,” the e-mail reportedly states. “My
colleagues and I will gladly help with analysis but not share it
with others. You should report your result directly to Dr.
Heimlich.”

The Enquirer also reports Fahey asked Chen to refrain from
naming UCLA doctors as authors on a research paper.

“It is more appropriate if you simply acknowledge
assistance of Dr. Najib Aziz and myself in some aspects of the
study in an acknowledgement paragraph or at the end of your
manuscript,” Fahey wrote, according to the Enquirer.

“You must understand that we want very much to see this
study succeed but we think that we should not be among manuscript
authors at this time,” the e-mail said.

This e-mail was forwarded to Aziz, as well as Barbara Hered, a
researcher for the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA,
according to the Enquirer.

In December of 1999, Heimlich and Chen co-authored a paper which
acknowledged that “levels of soluble immune factors in serum
… were measured by ELISA (enzyme linked inmmunosorbant assay) in
the University of California at Los Angeles.”

A UCLA statement released Nov. 20 said that Fahey “did not
collaborate on the malaria studies” and that “any
claims of association with UCLA are inaccurate.”

A second UCLA statement released Nov. 21 attributed
Fahey’s visit to China as a standard part of the UCLA/Fogarty
program in order to provide follow-up training in the
scholar’s own countries.

The statement said although Fahey did visit Chen, “he did
not, however, participate in any of their research
studies.”

Fahey has refused comment since the investigation began last
October.

The Enquirer reported Heimlich had no idea why the doctors would
say they weren’t involved. Heimlich told the Enquirer that
Fahey and Aziz provided technical assistance for years, used their
labs to analyze data and suggested ways to proceed.

Credits to UCLA, Fahey and Aziz can be found on the Heimlich
Institute Web site and in their online newsletter, “Caring
World.”

“Dr. Fahey is an outstanding professional. He was involved
in the original work in China,” Heimlich told the
Enquirer.

After inquiries from the Enquirer, a UCLA statement released
Feb. 14. said “UCLA reiterates that the university has never
approved any research studies pertaining to malariotherapy for
HIV.”

For complete coverage, visit dailybruin.ucla.edu and click
on “Extended Coverage.”

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someoneShare on Google+Share on Reddit

Comments are supposed to create a forum for thoughtful, respectful community discussion. Please be nice. View our full comments policy here.