- Hi Jeff...
- Thanks for posting the interesting article from The New
York Times (May 5, 2009) about "10 (virus) genes furiously evolving."
- Carl Zimmer reports: "Viruses are diverse because
they can mutate very fast and can mix genes. They sometimes pick up genes
from their hosts, and they can swap genes with other viruses. Some viruses,
including flu viruses, carry out a kind of mixing known as reassortment.
If two different flu viruses infect the same cell, the new copies of their
genes get jumbled up as new viruses are assembled."
- So why do scientists routinely perform dangerous experiments
such as are planting pig tissue into human beings?? For example, see the
Phyllida Brown article (below) that appeared in New Scientist more than
a decade ago on 1 March 1997. It is posted on:
- Why do virologists rush to blame pigs for the virus causing
the current flu pandemic? Why do they ignore their own viral experiments
where pig viruses (and viruses from various other species) are transplanted
into humans and into human tissue - and then allowed to swap genes and
mutate with human viruses? Could the current "new" swine flu
virus", which is a mix of human, pig and bird viruses, have its origin
in gene-swapping viral lab experiments that have been going on extensively
over the past half-century?
- Just asking,
- Alan Cantwell, M.D.
- Transplant Worries New Scientist
- 1 Mar 97 Phyllida Brown
- AMERICA's health officials are under attack for allowing
animal organs to be transplanted into humans, despite mounting evidence
that they may bring viruses with them. The criticism comes after two teams
of researchers found that pigs-the most promising source of organs for
transplantcarry a virus that can infect human cells. Although the researchers
have told the US Food and Drug Administration of their concerns, the FDA
continues to allow transplants to take place. in the current issue of Nature
Medicine (vol 3, p 282), Robin Weiss and his colleagues at the Institute
of Cancer Research in London show that a retrovirus-the group of viruses
that includes HIV-infects human cells in the lab.
- Because the virus is incorporated into the pig's DNA,
it cannot be removed except by selecting genetic variants of pigs that
lack the virus, and breeding them to create a virus-free strain. Weiss
first revealed his team's results last year at a meeting in New York.
- Now David Onions, a virologist at the University of Glasgow
says he has "very, very similar" results. "We think this
is a matter of concern," says Onions, who advises Imutran, a British
biotechnology company that is developing xenotransplant technology. "If
the virus gets into human cells at all one has to take it very seriously."
Last September, the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta
published guidelines for the use of animal organs in human transplants.
They recommend that animals are screened for disease, that samples of tissue
should be archived, that local review boards assess the risk of infectious
disease, and that people who are given organs are monitored afterwards.
- But Jon Allan, a virologist at the Southwest Foundation
for Biomedical Research in San Antonio, Texas, has attacked the guidelines.
Writing in Nature Medicine, Allan says they are "dubious" because
they do not say what sort of infections should be monitored for, and because
they leave the responsibility for policing transplants to surgeons and
local review boards. "I think banning transplants is the least they
[the FDA] can do," Allan told New Scientist. Weiss says he told the
FDA about his findings last October. Weiss also wrote to the FDA in December.
However, the FDA and the CDC have not changed the draft guidelines. "I
think perhaps they have not thought quite deeply enough about it,"
says Weiss. He adds that researchers have known for 20 years that built-in,
or endogenous, retroviruses that are harmless in their natural host can
jump species and cause disease in their new hosts. Philip Noguchi, director
of the division of cellular and gene therapies at the FDA, says that he
is not surprised by the findings, which have been confirmed by the FDKs
- The FDA has never iinph.ed that animal organs are safe,
he says, and it issued the guidelines in draft form to stimulate discussion.
Noguchi says that the FDA may now consider the need for specific tests
for endogenous retroviruses in animals that are being used to provide organs
for transplant. It may also take a formal role in overseeing local review
boards. Pig tissues have already been transplanted into people. And alongside
Weiss's results in Nature Medicine, a team that includes researchers from
the biotechnology company Diacrin in Charlestovvn, Massachusetts, reports
transplanting cells from the brains of pig fetuses into a patient with
- Alan Cantwell M.D.
- author of, AIDS & The Doctors of Death and Queer