Viruses and Cancer, 1962: What They Knew

"In the spring of 1958, NCI Director Rod Heller gave special emphasis in his testimony on recent developments in viruses and cancer research before the Appropriations Committees of Congress. He reported that several animal cancers had been induced by injection of cell-free extracts from leukemic tissues and tumors. These extracts had been filtered to remove all particles the size of bacteria or larger. Viruses were shown to be involved in the induction of the cancers. He also reported that the notion that viruses could cause cancer in man was of growing acceptance among cancer investigators. Nobel Laureate Wendell Stanley, who was a member of the National Advisory Cancer Council (NACC) and later a member of the NCI Board of Scientific Councilors (for NCI Intramural Research Programs), also testified before Congressional Appropriations Committees in favor of a larger budget than the one proposed by the Administration. He called for expanded research in viruses and cancer work and presented scientific evidence supporting the call for the expansion. Based on these presentations, in part, the Congress called for vigorous effort to stimulate research and training efforts in the study of the possible viral origin of human cancers. The aim of the effort was an expansive one: to search for viruses causing human cancers and their prevention. To the regular appropriation for the NCI of $27.814 million, the Congress appropriated an additional $1 million for added viruses and cancer efforts... At the November 1958 NACC meeting, the NCI established, with Council endorsement, a Panel on Viruses and Cancer with Council member Stanhope Bayne-Jones as Chairman... During the initial stages, responsibility for the conduct of the Program was given to Carl G. Baker who recently had become the NCI Assistant Director after nearly two and a half years as Assistant to Dr. Joe Smadel, Associate Director for Intramural Research, NIH.. (An Administrative History of the National Cancer Institute’s Viruses and Cancer Programs, 1950-1972. By Carl G. Baker, M.D).

History of the National Cancer Institute’s Viruses and Cancer Programs / National Institutes of Health (pdf, 379pp)

Medicine's Goal: Cause and Cure of Cancer. Some Say Virus Starts Trouble; Some, Hormones, by Earl Ubell. New York Herald Tribune 1958 July 13.

NY Herald Tribune 1958 / UCSF (pdf, 3 pp)

Application for research grant to the Tobacco Industry Research Committee (Kotin, Jacobson, and Reimann), by Christopher M. Martin, Oct. 6, 1959. Project or subject: Interactions of viruses, carcinogens, and nucleic acids.

Martin - TIRC 1959 / UCSF (pdf, 8 pp)

TIRC review of lung carcinogenesis literature, Oct. 1, 1959. Lists 20 viruses causing tumors in 9 species of animals, and the years of publication dating back to 1898. (link died)

TIRC review, 1959 / tobacco document

Show virus cancer link. Research workers of Seton Hall team give report. Staff correspondent, Newark News 1961 June 29; and: Virus Link to Cancer. Science News Letter July 3, 1961. Re Christopher Martin et al. "Viruses have been shown to bind together cancer-causing materials in test tubes. Researchers believe viruses serve as carriers of the cancer agents, Faye Marley reports."

Newark News & Science News Letter, 1961 / UCSF (pdf, 1 p)

'Piggy-Back' Viruses Held Possible Cancer Cause, by Alton Blakeslee, Associated Press. Tucson Citizen 1961 June 29. In: News Reports and Comment, The Tobacco Institute Inc., 1961 August. Re Martin et al.

Tucson Citizen 1961 / UCSF (pdf, 1 p)

Common human viruses as carcinogen vectors. CM Martin, S Magnusson, PJ Goscienski, GF Hansen. Science 1961 Dec. 25;134:1985-1986. "It has been a continuing paradox in the field of experimental neoplasias that carcinogens strongly implicated in human tumorigenesis, though present in the human environment in only trace amounts, will ordinarily induce neoplasia in animals only when administered in relatively large amounts, or when given together with various chemical or physical 'co-carcinogens'... This report presents evidence of in vitro and in vivo interactions between common human viruses and chemical carcinogens; the results suggest a hypothesis that viruses may serve as natural vectors for the transport of otherwise innocuous amounts of environmental carcinogens (mutagens) to susceptible intracellular chromosomal loci."

Martin - Science 1961 / UCSF (pdf, 2 pp)

Human adenovirus type 12, 1962

In 1962, the discovery that human adenovirus type 12 caused lung cancers in "nonsmoking" hamsters produced a brief stir of excitement. The Lasker Syndicate exploited it to help drum up public support for the establishment of the NCI's Special Virus Cancer Program.

American Cancer Society News Release Says: Human Virus Causes Cancer To Be Produced In Lungs Of Non-Smoking Animals. Tobacco Growers Information Committee News, Jan. 1962, page 4. "Human virus (adenovirus, type #12) produced lung cancers in 80% to 90% of experimental hamsters, according to an American Cancer Society news service release and news stories by the Associated Press and United Press International distributed to afternoon clients on April 13. Giving new support to a possible role of viruses in causing human cancer was a report of a medical team of Baylor's Dr. John J. Trentin and Dr. Yoshiro Yabe and University of Texas' Dr. Grant Taylor. The paper, read before an American Association for Cancer Research meeting at Atlantic City, N.J., told of work being done with U.S. Army scientists at Fort Dix, N.J. and Fort Sam Houston, Texas. The Texas researchers said the human adenovirus is of a kind responsible for some respiratory diseases but sharply differs from agents believed to cause the common cold. The Trentin research may be the first of several steps to a vaccine for adenovirus-caused cancers, if they do exist in humans, the release said."

Tobacco Growers Information Committee News, Jan. 1962 / UCSF (pdf, 4 pp)

"Current knowledge of tobacco and health," by TIRC Scientific Director Robert C. Hockett, April 5, 1962. Page 12: "These results are all recent and not even yet fully published. I think they are quite exciting. They seem to me to support our philosophical position that the genesis of lung cancer must involve a number of interesting factors... Evidently viruses can play a role, though they seem to act as damaging agents rather than as specific cancer [emphasized] viruses in the studies cited."

Hockett 1962 / UCSF (pdf, 19 pp)

Common Variety Viruses, Cancer Are Linked Anew. By Earl Ubell, Science Editor. New York Herald Tribune 1962 Apr 14; and: Human Cold, Animal Cancer. Scientific American, 1962 May. The Herald Tribune: "The three men from Baylor University Medical School and M.D. Anderson Hospital discovered A-12's cancerous bent by following up an old idea of the late Dr. Francisco Duran-Reynals, of Yale, one of the earliest proponents of the virus-cancer concept. Dr. Duran-Reynals believed common viruses could, under the right conditions, be cancer-causing. He labored mightily to prove the contention until he died a few years ago." Two known possible contaminants, SV-40 and polyomavirus were ruled out. Scientific American noted that "certain animal viruses have been found to cause both acute infections and, as a later affect, cancer. Moreover, these viruses cannot always be recovered from the tumors that they produce."

NY Herald Tribune & Scientific American, 1962 / UCSF (pdf, 1 p)

While at Yale, Duran-Reynals had been "ridiculed" by William U. Gardner of the UICC, and subsequently "sickened and died at the age of 58. Gardner, who was later a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Council for Tobacco Research, also destroyed papers and letters of Duran-Reynals and other early cancer researchers.

Virus Causes Lung Cancer in Animals. David Dietz. Cleveland Press, 1962 May 1. In: News Reports and Comment, July 1962. The Tobacco Institute. "A survey made by the Baylor scientists showed that more than one-fourth of patients treated for a variety of diseases at one hospital had been exposed to Adenovirus 12 at some time and now possessed antibodies in their blood which made them immune to the virus. However, it is not yet known how many healthy people have the virus in their system. It is known that the virus can lie dormant for many years following a childhood infection and then break out again in later life."

News Reports and Comment, The Tobacco Institute July 1962 / UCSF (pdf, 2 pp)

Scientists Report... Human virus induces animal lung cancers. Tobacco Institute: Research Reports on Tobacco and Health 1962 Jul;5(1):1, 3. Concerning Trentin et al.

Tobacco and Health, July 1962 / UCSF (pdf, 4 pp)

The Quest for Human Cancer Viruses. JJ Trentin, Y Yabe, G Taylor. Science 1962 Sep 14;137:835-841. Trentin, Yabe, and Taylor report their findings.

Trentin - Science 1962 / UCSF (pdf, 7 pp)

Cancer produced in animals by 2 common human viruses. By John Troan, Scripps-Howard Newspapers. New York World Telegram 1962 Sep 14. Mentions that Trentin et al.'s work was confirmed "shortly afterward" by RJ Huebner at NIH, and that their work is being supported by the NIH, American Cancer Society, El Paso (Tex.) Better Health Foundation and the Greater Longview (Tex.) United Fund.

World Telegram Sep 1962 / UCSF (pdf, 1 p)

Special Report - Eighth International Cancer Congress. Tobacco Institute: Research Reports on Tobacco and Health 1962 Sep-Oct;5(2). "In a report on the Congress, The Lancet of August 25 said that 'By far the most striking development revealed by the Congress was the tremendous change in status of the hypothesis of the viral etiology of cancer. Altogether more than 50 papers on this topic were presented.' (At the 1958 Congress in London the program included only four papers specifically on viruses and cancer.)"

TI Special Report, Sep-Oct 1962 / UCSF (pdf, 6 pp)

Comments on the article by Trentin in Science 1962 by an unknown author, Nov. 1, 1962. "Although in my opinion this does not prove that many human cancers are caused by viruses, it does open the door to an extent which should cause some jurors to think." Evidently in the early days, there were some who truly opposed the anti-smokers.

Unknown, Nov. 1962 / UCSF (pdf, 2 pp)

Application renewal for research grant by Philip Cooper, Irene P. Goldring and Herbert Volk, Nov. 2, 1962. Project or subject: Study of the combined effect of injected viral agents and environmental factors (including smoke and air pollutants) on the tracheo-bronchial tree and pulmonary parenchyma of experimental animals, and on tissues in organ culture. In Syrian hamsters, with Ad12 "and other adenoviruses as type 18."

Cooper Application Renewal Nov. 1962 / UCSF (pdf, 6 pp)

Symposium on chemical carcinogenesis. Introduction. Clin Pharmacol Ther 1962 Nov-Dec;3:774-775. Michael B. Shimkin, Associate Director for Field Studies of the National Cancer Institute, reporting on a symposium on chemical carcinogenesis: "In this group of articles, little has been said about the most actively developing and the most promising approach to the study of neoplastic disease, that of the role of viruses. This biological environment of man is shared by other species, and it is no longer tenable to consider that such entities as the Rous virus of chickens, the Bittner virus of mice, and the polyoma virus are one-species laboratory curiosities. Indeed, the neoplastic potentials in hamsters of the Simian Virus 40 and of the human Adenovirus 12 seem to be close to the very lock of the human neoplastic secret."

Shimkin 1962 / UCSF (pdf, 24 pp)

Tobacco Industry Research Council, Current Digest of Scientific Papers Relating to Tobacco Use 1963 Jan;8(3):25. RJ Huebner et al. report their experiment with Ad12 confirming Trentin et al. and additionally with Ad18 (Proc Natl Acad Sci 1962 Dec;48:2051-2058).

TIRC Current Digest Dec. 1962 / UCSF (pdf, 36 pp)

Program of the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health 1963. "For example, in research on viruses as a cause of cancer, an area in whcih the Institute has focused intensive efforts, more than 190 grants are in effect in this country and abroad... Although to date, no human cancer-causing virus has been found, research by grantee Dr. J. Trentin and co-workers at Baylor University in Texas touches on a long-standing suspicion that viruses which cause acute infections in man may also play a role in causing cancer... At the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Robert J. Huebner and colleagues, using adenoviruses 12 and 18, have obtained similar results." Huebner became a member of the Council for Tobacco Research's Scientific Advisory Board in 1968.

NCI Program, 1963 / UCSF (pdf, 73 pp)

Jan. 28, 1963 memo from PR Counsel Leonard S. Zahn of Hill & Knowlton to Alexander Holtzman concerning titles of "interesting papars" at the 17th Annual Symposium on Fundamental Cancer Research session on "Viruses, nucleic acids and cancer," to be held in February 1963.

Zahm memo Jan. 1963 / UCSF (pdf, 1 p)

Special report from Houston. Scientists discuss viruses and cancer. Tobacco Institute, Research Reports on Tobacco and Health 1963 Mar-Apr;6(1). Concerning the 17th Annual Symposium on Fundamental Cancer Research sponsored by MD Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute. The session on viruses drew over 1000 registrants.

Tobacco and Health Mar-Apr 1963 / UCSF (pdf, 4 pp)

Memo from Philip Cooper of the Veterans Administration Hospital, Bronx, NY, to Robert C. Hockett of the TIRC, April 16, 1963. Cooper met with John Trentin; "it appears obvious to me that we are in a better position using an influenza virus, such as PR-8, or the vaccinia virus in lung studies for they are more likely to produce epithelial changes, whereas the adenovirus 12, so far seems to be inducing malignant connective tissue tumors. Maria Duran-Reynals is to use the vaccinia to induce pulmonary lesions. The animals will subsequently be exposed to gases. Dr. Geldring, meanwhile, will combine the work with the influenza virus."

Cooper memo to Hockett, 1963 / UCSF (pdf, 1 p)

The Niles Cluster. Newsweek 1963 Apr 22. Discusses the investigation into a possible viral cause of a cluster of leukemia cases in Niles, Illinois, and mentions the adenovirus work of Trentin et al.

Newsweek 1963 April / UCSF (pdf, 2 pp)

Viruses and Cancer. George H. Porter, M.D. From the Medicine Branch and the Laboratory of Viral Oncology, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Md. Archives of Internal Medicine 1963 May;111(5):572-591. Review.

Porter - Arch Intern Med 1963 / UCSF (pdf, 21 pp)

May 7, 1963 Hill & Knowlton memo concerning House hearings on NIH appropriations in March 1963. From NCI Director Kenneth Endicott's prepared statement: "To date no human cancer-causing virus has been found. However, we know for example of a group of human viruses that have not yet been linked with specific diseases, and some animal viruses that cause bizarre changes in human cells growing in tissue culture... Our interest has been aroused by recent evidence obtained independently by Dr. John J. Trentin, Baylor University, and Dr. Robert J. Huebner, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, that some of the human adenoviruses, which cause acute respiratory illness, produce tumors in hamsters..."

Hill & Knowlton Memo May 7, 1963 / UCSF (pdf, 4 pp)

July 12, 1963, announcement of appointments to the NCI's Board of Scientific Counselors, including Leon Jacobson (a member of the CTR SAB from 1954 to 1991) and John J. Trentin, with William U. Gardner (a member of the CTR SAB from 1971-85) as the new chairman of the Board.

NCI Board of Scientific Counselors July 1963 / UCSF (pdf, 1 p)

Application for TIRC Research Grant from Morris Pollard of the University of Notre Dame, Aug. 13, 1963. Project or Subject: Carcinogenesis in Germfree Animals. Committee: Jacobson, Kotin and Lynch. Another emphasis on chemical carcinogens.

Pollard Grant Application 1963 / UCSF (pdf, 6 pp)

In 1964, the current deputy director of the NCI, Alan Rabson, and his wife, Ruth Kirschstein, the acting director of the National Institutes of Health, with FJ Paul, published their own paper adding that Ad12 caused tumors in mice: Tumors produced by Adenovirus 12 in mastomys and mice. J Natl Cancer Inst 1964;32:77-82. Both Rabson and Kirschstein were also involved in subsequent research.

Rabson's adenovirus research / PubMed
Kirschstein's adenovirus research / PubMed

In a 1965 letter to Paul D. Smith, Vice President and General Counsel of Philip Morris, Alexander Holtzmann describes how R. Lee Clark intimidated Dr. Leon Dmochowski out of testifying to Congress about the evidence that human cancers may be caused by viruses. "As to Dr. Dmochowski he observed that he was not raising any issues of academic or scientific freedom because he would not prevent him from appearing. But he repeated that it would be poor judgment on Dmochowski's part to agree to this. I told him that this attitude was tantamount to his prohibiting Dmochowski from cooperating since he must know that Dmochowski would not go ahead when informed how Clark felt about it. He let this pass without comment."

Holtzmann letter, 1965 / UCSF (pdf, 5 pp)

John J. Trentin only published a few more papers on adenovirus: Animal-man cancer probes continue. GL Van Hoosier, W Stenback, SC Dunn, EJ Macdonald, MC Macdonald, HG Taylor, JJ Trentin. JAMA 1966 Jun 27;196(13):Suppl:30-31; and Stimulation of DNA synthesis in human and hamster cells by human adenovirus types 12 and 5. M Takahashi, GL Van Hoosier Jr, JJ Trentin. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med 1966 Jul;122(3):740-746. No PubMed abstracts.

The flurry of publicity about viruses and cancer helped lobby for the Special Virus Cancer Program of the National Cancer Institute, in which funding that was ostensibly for research on human cancer was spent instead on animal viruses.

The "Special Virus Cancer Program" Masquerade

See Also:

How the health establishment has deliberately and systematically exploited confounding in order to falsely blame smoking and lifestye for diseases that are actually caused by infection.

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cast 02-01-15