By hook or by crook

Thursday 15 July 2004

A Kenyan scientist has accused Oxford University researchers of stealing aids data from the African country and taking it back to the uk for illegal research. The controversy centres around an orphanage, the Nyumbani Home in Nairobi, which is said to hold the key to a likely future cure for aids.

The home was opened in 1992 by Father Angelo D'Agostino and houses hiv-infected children who have survived without medication for over a decade. Their natural immunity has intrigued scientists across the world. Moses Otsyula of Kenya's Institute of Primate Research set up a laboratory at the orphanage in 1997 to monitor the infected children. He alleges that while he was away on a trip, Oxford researchers stole the blood samples and removed crucial data from his computer. The Kenyan government has launched a probe into the incident.

Meanwhile, Rowland-Jones of Oxford's Institute of Molecular Medicine claims her team made an "inadvertent" error. For his part, D'Agostino asserts that the media has not got the correct picture of the matter.

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