Jake The Chimpanzee – In Vivo Experiments

June 9, 2017

Petersen, Bond and Carson then conducted a series of tests to assess if the Ped-O-Jet would become contaminated after injecting an animal already infected with hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg).  Two male chimpanzees were used: Jake an adult chimpanzee weighing 145 pounds and a juvenile chimpanzee (name unknown) weighing 44 pounds.  Both chimps were sedated with ketamine for the experiment.

In this in vivo experiment—an experiment taking place in a living organism—a 0.5 ml sterile saline injection was given with a sterile Ped-O-Jet to the HBsAg-positive chimpanzees.  The Ped-O-Jet was firmly held against the skin during the administration of the injection and for three-seconds after the injection.  Following the injection the Ped-O-Jet was fired into a vial and the ejected fluid tested.  If the fluid was HBsAg-positive it would implicate the jet injector as a vehicle in the cross-contamination of viral hepatitis.

Jet Infectors - Phoenix Field Station In Vivo study

Special Investigations Team testing a Ped-O-Jet injector on a chimp in 1977

Detection of blood and HBsAg were obtained using methods viable in 1977 and which are no longer relied upon.  Nonetheless, the results from the in vivo experiments were inconsistent.  For Jake, the adult chimpanzee, one sample from the injection site tested positive for occult blood by Hemastix (urine dipstick) and positive for HBsAg by radioimmunoassay (RIA) using Ausria II, while the remaining four injection site samples were negative.  For the juvenile chimp, 4 out of 5 injection sites were positive for occult blood but all five were negative for HBsAg.  The Ped-O-Jet was swabbed but all samples were negative for HBsAg.  Results of the ejected fluid, the most critical test within the experiment, were also all negative for HBsAg.

The researchers concluded, “from these in vivo experiments that jet injector nozzle surfaces and interior surfaces of the gun are apparently not easily contaminated during actual use.”  The researchers further stated, this experiment only tested conditions under normal use and did not represent a “worse-case condition.”

Although not part of the original report, it is interesting to note that trauma to the injection sites were observed.  Walter Bond recalled the experiment many years later in an email with a colleague-friend.  Bond stated upon visiting Jake in the animal quarters the following day that the injection sites looked “agggh!”

Results No Longer Valid
The Phoenix Labs’ radioimmunoassay method of HBsAg detection, albeit novel for 1977, quickly became outdated.  Advances in science ushered in more precise Hepatitis B assays capable of detecting extremely low levels of HBsAg.  These advances made the results of the Special Investigations Team no longer valid.

Imagine using a magnifying glass.  Several years later, a more powerful lens with a greater magnification emerges allowing things previously unseen to be observed.  Very similarly advances in medicine have allowed for low levels of Hepatitis B surface antigen previously unseen to be observed.

In 1984, Feinman and colleagues found DNA hybridization to be a far more accurate tool than radioimmunoassay in detecting low levels of HBsAg.  Precisely 1,000 times better.  Radioimmunoassay detects HBsAg in dilutions as small as 1/ 100,000 milliliters or rather 10-5 ml.  Whereas DNA hybridization detects as small as 1/ 100,000,000 milliliters or rather 10-8 ml within the same samples (Feinman et al., 1984). This is a huge difference!

“DNA hybridization is the most sensitive method for detecting hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection.  In situations with low virus levels it may be the only indicator of the presence of infectious hepatitis B virus,” wrote Feinman in 1984.

The discovery by Feinman and colleagues made HBsAg detectable in microscopic levels previously unheard of in the medical community.  With this method they found the minimum known volume of blood capable of transmitting Hepatitis B virus was 100 million chimpanzee-infectious doses per milliliter (Feinman et al., 1984).  Former Lead Researcher on Vaccine Technology within the CDC, Dr. Bruce Weniger stated, “This converts to 10 picoliters (10-8 ml) of HBV-infected blood transmitting infection, well below the sensitivity to detect blood by human vision, by common urine dipstick, and by non-PCR HBV assays” (Weniger, Jones & Chen).

Therefore, the radioimmunoassay used by the Phoenix Lab, a non-polymerase chain reaction Hepatitis B virus assay, could not detect positive samples within such low levels.  Neither would the Hemastix urine dipstick be able to detect such low levels.  These tests would give a false-negative, or rather would falsely deem a positive sample to be negative.  Ultimately, low levels of infectious Hepatitis B surface antigen could have been transmitted within this study and could have gone undetected.

For any critics who would argue that such low levels of blood would not be infectious or carryover to the next vaccinee…think again.  As stated within the last article, subsequent research on jet injection has demonstrated cross-contamination of blood (Hoffman et al., 2001; Hoffman et. al., unpublished), infectious material (Brink et al., 1985), and the Hepatitis B virus (Kelly et al., 2008) in such low levels.  In fact, in several samples which demonstrated carryover there was no observable bleeding at the injection site.  This means that microscopic levels of blood and viruses were transmitted via jet injectors despite the absence of any visible bleeding.

From these experiments the team summarized it’s findings.

Next Article – December of 1977 Summary


  • (Brink et al., 1985) Brink PRG, van Loon AM, Trommelen JCM, Gribnau FWJ, Smale-Novakova IRO. Virus transmission by subcutaneous jet injection. J Med Microbiol. December 1985; 20(3): 393-397.
  • (Feinman et al., 1984) Feinman SV, et al. DNA: DNA hybridization method for the diagnosis of hepatitis B infection. J Virol Methods 1984;8(3):199-206
  • (Hoffman et al., 2001) Hoffman PN, Abuknesha RA, Andrews NJ, Samuel D, Lloyd JS. A model to assess the infection potential of jet injectors used in mass immunization. Vaccine 19 (2001): 4020-4027.
  • (Hoffman et al., unpublished) Hoffman PN, Abuknesha RA, Andrews NJ, Brito GS, Carrasco P, Weckx LY, Moia LJMP, Silva AEB, Lloyd J. A field trial of jet injector safety in Brazil. (unpublished).
  • (Kelly et al., 2008) Kelly K, Loskutov A, Zehrung D, Puaa K, LaBarre P, Muller N, Guiqiang W, Ding H, Hu D, Blackwelder WC. Preventing contamination between injections with multi-use nozzle needle-free injectors: a safety trial. Vaccine (2008) 26, 1344-1352.
  • (Weniger, Jones & Chen) Weniger BC, Jones TS, & Chen RT. The Unintended Consequences of Vaccine Delivery Devices Used to Eradicate Smallpox: Lessons for Future Vaccination Methods. [Poster Presentation]

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