Perth Group response to Murali Mohan Chakkilala 16 January 2004
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Eleni Papadopulos-Eleopulos,
Biophysicist
Department of Medical Physics, Royal Perth Hospital, Western Australia,6001,
Valendar F Turner, John Papadimitriou, Barry Page, David Causer, Helman Alfonso

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Re: Perth Group response to Murali Mohan Chakkilala

Perth Group response to Murali Mohan Chakkilala

In his rapid response "A request to the Perth Group", Murali Mohan Chakkilala wrote: The Perth Group have stated that they answer in detail, each and every question that is put to them. On 17 September 2003, Christopher Noble wrote, "If the Perth Group writes an article with hundreds of references at the end it does not make it a scientific article. It is necessary that the cited references actually support the arguments stated in the text. I have already provided a number of examples where the references given by the Perth Group do not support their arguments. Peer review would address some of these points but the Perth Group circumvent peer review by publishing on the internet."

After going through all the rapid responses posted subsequently on this debate, I was not able to find any reply from the Perth group countering Mr Noble's claim that some of the Perth groups arguments are not supported by the references they provide. It is entirely possible that I might have missed out on something.

I would like to know what the Perth group have to say about Christopher Noble's claim".

We still believe that we have answered "each and every question" that has been put to us by Christopher Noble. The above quote from Christopher Noble is not a question but a general accusation, which makes it difficult to respond. However, we did respond to all of his concrete "examples". Regarding publications in peer reviewed journals:

(1) The difficulty we encounter in our attempts to publish in peer reviewed journals can be best illustrated by an example. In 1988 we submitted to The Medical Journal of Australia a paper entitled "HIV and Kaposi's Sarcoma - a questionable relationship", in which we had argued that HIV could not be the cause of KS. On the reviewers' advice the paper was rejected. One of them wrote: "Unfortunately I believe that the tenants of the argument presented have not been carefully constructed from study of current literature…". Another wrote: "The arguments forwarded by the author are quite unsatisfactory, and are not supported by even desultory reading of the literature quoted…In addition, the author fails to examine the body of epidemiological, immunological and cellular literature concerning the Pathology, Pathogenesis and Clinical association of this fascinating manifestation of HIV infection". Between 1988-1992 we had many exchanges with the editors regarding our paper and submitted updated versions. Again, on the reviewer's advice the paper was rejected. "Unfortunately, their hypothesis is now completely untenable. We are fortunate that new information discussed at the recent International AIDS Conference in Florence gives us a much better idea of the pathogenesis of Kaposi's sarcoma in HIV infection…evidence demonstrating that activation of the tat gene with subsequent effects on the production of IL6, produces both the proliferation of endothelial cells responsible for KS and the elicitation from those cells of an angiogenic factor as well as the polyclonal gammopathy seen in the disease, takes us very far down the path towards an understanding of these problems and far away from the hypothesis suggested by the West Australian scientists. Under the circumstances, it is not suitable for publication in the Journal". Our paper was rejected even after the 1992 publication, in Lancet, by the CDC researchers where they presented evidence against the claim that the cause of KS is HIV [1]. At present it is generally accepted that HIV plays no role, either directly or indirectly, in the causation of KS. This is one of many other similar examples.

(2) Despite the many difficulties, we have managed to publish several papers in peer reviewed Journals over the past decade. This has given Christopher Noble ample time to write to the editors of these Journals pointing out our mistakes including cited references that do not support the arguments stated in the text. He has not done this. In fact for some unknown reason he ignores all our publications in peer reviewed Journals.

1. Beral V, Peterman TA, Berkelman RL, Jaffe HW. Kaposi's sarcoma among persons with AIDS: a sexually transmitted infection? Lancet 1990;335:123-8.

Competing interests: None declared