The Huge Bounty On A Global Killer

In 1988, Japan's Emperor Hirohito lay ill with cancer. His doctors feared that transfusions he needed would be tainted with the hepatitis C virus (HCV), which then infected about 18% of Japanese blood recipients. So Kusuya Nishioka, one of Japan's leading hepatitis experts and an adviser to the Japan Red Cross, called an old friend--William J. Rutter, chairman of Chiron Corp. in Emeryville, Calif. Rutter sent experimental versions of a test Chiron was developing to screen blood for HCV. Months later, he sent more tests: As heads of state began arriving for the Emperor's funeral, Nishioka needed safe blood in case of emergencies.

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