Royal Perth Hospital, Western Australia,
Valendar F Turner, John Papadimitriou, Barry Page, David Causer, Helman Alfonso, Sam Mhlongo, Todd Miller, Andrew Maniotis, Christian Fiala
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Alistair D’Sa is correct. In fact we could not have articulated our views any better than he and Murali Mohan (Re: Re: That is a scientist's responsibility, 21st February). The Perth Group has argued that to date there is no proof for the existence of HIV and thus a retrovirus HIV cannot be the cause of AIDS. We have published an alternative hypotheses to explain both the development of AIDS as well as the phenomena claimed to be "HIV". In our view both are caused by exposure of patients and cultures to cellular oxidants. To date some, if not all, of this theory's predictions have been confirmed.1
We are well aware that many people may regard our views as untenable. But one may take heart in a largely forgotten historical precedent. In the mid 1970s Gallo "discovered" the world's "first" human retrovirus and named it HL3V.2 HL23V was promoted as a "real possibility" for an infectious cause of human leukaemia.3 Significantly, the evidence for the "isolation" of HL23V surpassed that of HIV in at least two aspects. Unlike HIV, Gallo's group reported the detection of reverse transcriptase activity in fresh, uncultured leucocytes.4 They also published an electron micrograph of virus-like particles banding at a sucrose density of 1.16 gm/ml,2 something neither Montagnier nor Gallo did in the case of “HIV”. As with HIV, the existence of HL23V was also predicated on antibody reactivity and, on the same basis, 55/72 76%) health humans were found to be infected. This led scientists to the conclusion that infection with HL23 "may be widespread in humans".5 However, in 1980 researchers from the National Cancer Institute and the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center published data that proved the "HL23V" antibodies are non-specific on the basis that preadsorption of sera with "substances as diverse as normal components of serum, extracts of bacteria, and even nonprotein molecules such as glycogen" removed reactivity. These authors concluded: "The results are consistent with the idea that the antibodies in question are elicited as a result of exposure to many natural substances possessing widely crossreacting antigens and are not a result of widespread infection of man with replication-competent oncoviruses".6 7
In 1981 Robin Weiss and his colleagues stressed" "All investigators, however, pointed out that "the question of whether [retro]viruses have induced the antibodies…is impossible to decide. In an environment full of potentially related stimuli, nonviral antigens may also have been responsible for the induction of antibodies".8 In their investigation they found "that the majority (if not all) of normal human sera contain naturally occurring heterophile 9 antibodies that react with the carbohydrate moieties of retrovirus envelope antigens" including SSAV and FLV". [SSAV (simian sarcoma-associated virus and FLV (Friend leukaemia virus) are retroviruses of monkeys and mice respectively]. In the same year Gallo accepted the evidence that the antibodies which reacted with proteins of HL23V were directed not against the proteins "but against the carbohydrate moieties on the molecule that are introduced by the host cell as a post-transcriptional event, and which are therefore cell-specific and not virus-specific".10 This discovery was of such significance that today nobody, not even Gallo considers HL23V as being the first human retrovirus. Subsequently Gallo claimed that HL23V in fact was "but a melange of three animal [retro]viruses - a wooly monkey virus, a gibbon ape virus, and a baboon virus - jumbled together in a retroviral cocktail", which contaminated his culture. 11
This means that:
(i) If researchers had not performed the preadsorption experiments and clarified the nature of the antibody reactivity one would have been left with the original claim that 70% of humans5 are infected with HL23V, "a real possibility" for a causative agent of human leukaemia;
(ii) Either up to 50% of humans are infected with monkey and mice retroviruses or that humans have antibodies which react non-specifically with retroviruses.
For some unknown reason, despite the facts that (a) the "retrovirus envelope antigens" of HIV are glycoproteins; (b) the AIDS risk groups are immersed in "an environment full of potentially related "nonviral antigens" stimuli"; (c) mycobacterial12 and fungal antigens,13 which represent nearly 90% of all AIDS diagnoses, also adsorb "HIV" antibodies;
HIV is still regarded bona fide.
1. Papadopulos-Eleopulos E. Looking back on the oxidative stress theory of AIDS. Continuum 1998;5:30-35.
2. Gallagher RE, Gallo RC. Type C RNA Tumor Virus Isolated from Cultured Human Acute Myelogenous Leukemia Cells. Science 1975;187:350-353.
3. Kurth R, Teich NM, Weiss R, Oliver RTD. Natural human antibodies reactive with primate type-C antigens. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 1977;74:1237-1241.
4. Gallo RC, Wong-Staal F, Reitz M, Gallagher RE, Miller N, Gillespie DH. Some evidence for infectious type-C virus in humans. In: Balimore D, Huang AS, Fox CF, editors. Animal Virology. New York: Academic Press Inc., 1976:385-405.
5. Aoki T, Walling MJ, Bushar GS, Liu M, Hsu KC. Natural antibodies in sera from healthy humans to antigens on surfaces of type C RNA viruses and cells from primates. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 1976;73:2491-5.
6. Barbacid M, Bolognesi D, Aaronson SA. Humans have antibodies capable of recognizing oncoviral glycoproteins: Demonstration that these antibodies are formed in response to cellular modification of glycoproteins rather than as consequence of exposure to virus. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 1980;77:1617-1621.
7. Snyder HW, Fleissner E. Specificity of human antibodies to oncovirus glycoproteins: Recognition of antigen by natural antibodies directed against carbohydrate structures. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 1980;77:1622-1626.
8. Lower J, Davidson EA, Teich NM, Weiss RA, Joseph AP, Kurth R. Heterophil human antibodies recognize oncovirus envelope antigens: epidemiological parameters and immunological specificity of the reaction. Virol 1981;109:409-17.
9. A heterophile antibody is an antibody present in one species of animal which reacts with an antigen from another species. They prove that individuals are not necessarily infected with the antigens with which their antibodies react. They are commonly encountered in infectious mononucleosis (glandular fever). In fact they are used to diagnose this disease.
10. Kalyanaraman VS, Sarngadharan MG, Bunn PA, Minna JD, Gallo RC. Antibodies in human sera reactive against an internal structural protein of human T-cell lymphoma virus. Nature 1981;294:271-273.
11. Crewdson J. Science Fictions, 2002. www.twbookmark.com/books/4/0316134767/chapter_excerpt14557.html
12. Kashala O, Marlink R, Ilunga M, Diese M, Gormus B, Xu K, et al. Infection with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) and human T cell lymphotropic viruses among leprosy patients and contacts: correlation between HIV-1 cross-reactivity and antibodies to lipoarabinomannan. J Infect Dis 1994;169:296-304.
13. Papadopulos-Eleopulos E, Turner VF, Papadimitriou JM, Causer D. HIV antibodies: Further questions and a plea for clarification. Curr Med Res Opinion 1997;13:627-634.
Competing interests: None declared