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In Boston, the team of John Enders, PhD (1897-1985), Thomas Weller, MD (1915-2008), and Frederick Robbins, MD (1916-2003), showed that they could grow polioviruses in non-nervous tissue—namely human embryonic skin and muscle tissue. This landmark finding would reduce reliance on using live monkeys for growing and testing virus. No longer would polio research be restricted to facilities that could house large numbers of experimental animals.

Enders’s findings would lead the way to simpler, less expensive methods of producing large quantities of virus for study and eventually vaccine production.

Enders and colleagues would win the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1954 for their work on culturing polioviruses.

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Diseases & Vaccines