Alan F Miceli,
Burwood Victoria 3125 Australia
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Christopher Noble has an astonishing ability to present abject defeat as glorious victory.On 25 July he wrote:
"I challenge Papadopulos-Eleopulos to provide any references that provide evidence that nef-deletion mutants are not attenuated."
Now this was a very minor point in the Perth Group's argument showing that even if they accepted the prevailing HIV/AIDS paradigm and that the Sydney cohort patients were infected with a nef-deleted virus there was still little reason to believe that the virus was attenuated. Nevertheless the Perth Group was able to reinstate the reference that Christopher Noble sought to throw out and to provide four further relevant references (31 July).
For more than a month Christopher Noble didn't mention the challenge. I assumed that he had dropped the subject out of embarrassment.Then on 5 September we read:
"I asked for references that nef deleted HIV strains are not attenuated and you reply with a study entitled "Live attenuated multiply deleted simian immunodeficiency virus causes AIDS in infant and adult macaques.""
Surely it is the content of the paper that matters not its title.The quote from this study given by the Perth Group certainly supports the relevance of the study in this context.And what about the other four references? This sort of unreasoning and incomplete response is not worthy of a postdoctoral fellow.
Similarly the argument about genomic differences has brought little success for Christopher Noble.On one hand we have such viruses as the various human papilloma virus types and the influenza A virus subtypes which have reassuringly firm identities based on their relative lack of genomic variation.On the other hand we have a burgeoning variety of HIV genomes threatening to overwhelm attempts at classification.
It was curious that on 12 September Christopher Noble once again raised the following quotation from a 1998 Perth Group slide presentation:
"By comparison,two RNA containing viruses (polio and influenza,the latter after 27 years of dormancy,) vary by less than 1%."
The quote is probably adapted from a quote that was put forward in this forum on 18 July:
"The type 3 Sabin poliovirus differed from its neurovirulent progenitor at only 10 nucleotide positions after 53 in vitro and 21 in vivo passages in monkey tissues. In 1977, H1N1 influenza A virus reappeared in the human population after 27 years of dormancy with sequences mainly identical to those of the 1950s virus."
In other words they are referring to the type 3 Sabin poliovirus not all polio viruses together- they just failed to make this explicit.Nor are they referring to all influenza viruses, a fact which is clear from the context.
While the Perth Group are amazed that Christopher Noble has ignored all their main arguments(21 August) they must also be perplexed by the needlessly insulting tone of his "rapid responses".Instead of nibbling away unsuccessfully at some of the Perth Group's most unimportant references I suggest to Christopher Noble that he should attempt to be the first to refute the major paper published by the Perth Group in this forum. That is:
A critical examination of the evidence for the existence of HIV. (25 April)
A major part of that paper is an analysis of the work of the Montagnier and Gallo groups,published in 1983 and 1984, which was taken to establish the existence of a retrovirus which was later named HIV. He will read in the conclusion:
"The phenomena they interpreted as HIV are all non-specific and were known to be so long before the AIDS era.In fact given the origin of the cells and the culture conditions one would (be) expect to find all these phenomena even if the cultures are not infected with a retrovirus."
Can anyone deny (refute) this? Can everyone ignore it?
Competing interests: None declared