UCLA Reopens Investigation of Researchers’ Possible Link to Chinese Malariotherapy Study To Treat HIV-Positive Patients
The University of California-Los Angeles yesterday announced that it is reopening an investigation into two researchers' possible involvement in a "controversial" malariotherapy study in which AIDS patients in China were injected with malaria-infected blood, the Los Angeles Times reports. The study, which is being conducted by Chinese researchers for the Cincinnati-based Heimlich Institute, is examining whether high fevers induced by malaria could serve as a possible treatment for HIV/AIDS (Trounson/Maugh, Los Angeles Times, 2/19). The CDC, health professionals and human rights advocates have called malariotherapy a "medical 'atrocity,'" the Cincinnati Enquirer reports (Anglen, Cincinnati Enquirer, 2/16). A UCLA institutional review board in December 2002 said in a statement that it had uncovered "no evidence" linking microbiology professor John Fahey and his associate Najib Aziz to the experiments (Los Angeles Times, 2/19). However, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that it obtained documents showing that the two researchers have been "active" in the studies since 1996, including memos to Dr. Henry Heimlich -- the founder of the institute -- that referred to the malariotherapy study as "striking" and offered help to continue the research through UCLA. Both Fahey and Aziz have said that they were not involved in the studies, and UCLA officials have asked Heimlich to "omit UCLA from all references relating to malaria studies or other Heimlich Institute research," adding, "Any claims of an affiliation with UCLA are inaccurate." UCLA spokesperson Max Benavidez, after being made aware of the new documents, on Friday issued another statement saying that "UCLA reiterates that the university has never approved any research pertaining to malariotherapy for HIV" (Cincinnati Enquirer, 2/16). The university also stated that it would "continue its inquiry into anonymous accusations linking UCLA faculty to malaria studies in China." Both Aziz and Fahey declined to comment on the study or the investigation, the Times reports (Los Angeles Times, 2/19).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.