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Koprowski’s team of scientists, at the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia, wanted to improve on the antibody response created by the experimental HEP live-virus vaccines. They looked to a cell line created from human embryonic cells as a medium for cultivating the rabies virus. Their initial tests successfully used live vaccine virus, as had the previous HEP tests. But medical resistance was strong to using a live virus rabies vaccine. The risk for inadvertent infection with a fatal illness was seen to be too high.

Accordingly, Koprowski’s team used a chemical disinfectant to inactivate their rabies vaccine virus.

In 1971, Koprowski, veterinarian Tadeusz Wiktor, and American physician Stanley Plotkin inoculated themselves with their experimental rabies vaccine. Plotkin went on to successfully test the vaccine in trials with human subjects.

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Diseases & Vaccines