Monday, February 27

UCLA ties doctor to lab misconduct


Statement determines researcher's involvement in outlawed human testing

The UCLA Office for Protection of Research Subjects determined
on March 30 that UCLA researcher John Fahey “was engaged in
human subjects research” for the controversial malariotherapy
treatment going on in China.

The Institutional Review Board of the OPRS found that “Dr.
Fahey, while not personally involved in the clinical trials, was
involved in evaluating data and biological samples brought to UCLA
from China,” according to a UCLA statement released
Tuesday.

Fahey said in a statement Tuesday that he “has never
conducted or been an advocate for malariotherapy clinical
trials.”

Malariotherapy, the injection of a curable form of malaria into
a human HIV patient, was proposed as a treatment for AIDS by Henry
Heimlich of the Heimlich Institute in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Dr. Chen Xiao Ping, project director of the malariotherapy
studies in China, was trained by Fahey under the auspices of the
UCLA/Fogarty AIDS International Training and Research Program.

The Fogarty Program provides training in AIDS treatment and
containment to scholars in developing countries.

According to Fahey’s statement, Chen had engaged in
malariotherapy prior to his participation in the the program.

“In 1997, as part of this training, Dr. Xiao Ping Chen
tested blood serum he had collected at least three or four years
earlier from patients he had treated in China with
malariotherapy,” Fahey said.

Because Chen’s tests were performed under Fahey’s
supervision as a part of the Fogarty Program, the IRB found Fahey
himself to be involved in the human subject research, by
“allowing the testing of Dr. Chen’s samples,” the
UCLA statement said.

According to the UCLA statement, “in not getting prior
approval from UCLA, Dr. Fahey violated federal regulations as well
as UCLA policy for the protection of human research subjects by
allowing Dr. Chen to conduct research at UCLA in a program funded
to UCLA.”

Fahey’s involvement will be reported to the U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services ““ Office for Human
Research Protections, the Fogarty International Program, and
UCLA’s executive vice chancellor in accordance with federal
regulations.

“He wishes to put this episode behind him and to continue
to devote his energies to dealing with the challenges presented by
AIDS worldwide,” Fahey’s statement said.

Fahey was not available for further comment.

The inquiry was first opened last October after Steven Peckman,
associate director of Human Research Subjects for the OPRS,
received an anonymous e-mail requesting an investigation.

The e-mail contained public documents that linked UCLA AIDS
Institute researchers John Fahey and Najib Aziz to a collaboration
with the Heimlich Institute in malariotherapy experiments and
research on human subjects.

A previous UCLA statement issued in November stated that Fahey
“was never involved in Dr. Henry Heimlich’s malaria
studies” and that “UCLA intends to ask Dr. Heimlich to
omit UCLA from all references relating to the malaria studies or
other Heimlich Institute research.”

In December, the Institutional Review Board of the OPRS cleared
the two researchers from involvement with malariotherapy
research.

But the investigation was reopened in February when the IRB
received new evidence.

Peckman declined to comment on the new evidence he received.

Also in February, the Cincinnati Enquirer obtained a letter from
Fahey to Heimlich dated Aug. 8, 1996 in which he wrote, “I
wondered if we could perhaps help you. … We could, perhaps,
develop a means of helping your Chinese colleagues in carrying out
their studies.”

Since the early 1990s, Heimlich has claimed that the high fevers
induced by malaria can rejuvenate a weakened immune system of an
HIV patient.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention issued a public
health alert against malariotherapy in April 1993. The treatment
has also been discredited by the World Health Organization and the
National Institutes of Health.

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

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