Chapter 1 : History of Poliomyelitis and Poliomyelitis Research

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A breakthrough in the comprehension of poliomyelitis, viz., clinical disease and pathology, was possible by progress achieved in neuropathology and neuropathologic techniques. On the basis of the autopsy of two cases of poliomyelitis acuta, review of the literature, and the unknown etiologic agent, they caution against jumping to conclusions about the causal sequence of events. In the late 1930s, incontrovertible evidence was brought forth for the presence of virus in the stools of patients with paralytic or nonparalytic poliomyelitis and in contacts as well. Some years earlier researchers tried with ingenious techniques to multiply poliovirus in mice in support of Brodie’vaccine trials, but with the vaccine failures this work was neglected. The finally well-established viremia, however, could be interpreted differently from that of Bodian; e.g., Sabin considered viremia as means to amplify virus in various extraneural tissues from where poliovirus subsequently reached the central nervous system via neural, axonal spread. Last but not least, the seminal paper of researchers was the starting point of modern poliovirology, and it launched the scientific revolution rightly called molecular virology.

Citation: Eggers H. 2002. History of Poliomyelitis and Poliomyelitis Research, p 3-14. In Semler B, Wimmer E (ed), Molecular Biology of Picornavirus. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817916.ch1

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