Still no proper controls in HIV research 17 August 2004
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Eleni Papadopulos-Eleopulos,
Department of Medical Physics, Royal Perth Hospital, Western Australia, 6001,
Valendar F Turner, John Papadimitriou, Barry Page, David Causer, Helman Alfonso, Sam Mhlongo, Todd Miller, Christian Fiala

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Re: Still no proper controls in HIV research



In his rapid response, "Re: Where are the proper controls in "HIV" research", 28th July, Christopher Noble wrote:  "In a bizarre display of Denialist literature reading the Perth Group then cited this paper:  Science. 1986 (Feb.21;231(4740):850-3.  Where for instance table 3 shows an uninfected T-cell control culture that shows no RT activity before and after PHA activation."


In table 3 no mention is made of RT activity in either activated or non activated "uninfected T-cell control culture".  A mention of RT activity in stimulated (PHA) uninfected cells is made in table 2.  "Activated and nonactivated cultures of T cells (20 days old) derived from the same normal donor were assayed for IL-2 production and RT activity.  After activation by PHA for 24 hours, the T cells from the donor were treated with polybrene (2 mg/ml), incubated in the presence of HTLV-III-containing culture supernatant fluid obtained from the H9/HTLV-III-B2 cell line for 1 hour at 37C, and cultured in RPMI 1640 and FCS containing exogenous IL-2, antibody to a-interferon, and hydrocortisone."


Obviously there were many significant differences between the "control" and the "infected" cultures irrespective of "HIV".  No scientist worthy of his salt would accept this as being a proper control.  In addition the RT activity in the "control" was determined at day 20 after stimulation.  However, as stated in the same paper, maximum RT activity is detected in stimulated cultures which are less than 20 days old.


Christopher Noble wrote: 'The text accompanying table 5 states: Uninfected HUT-78 and JM cells do not express any RT activity in the culture supernatant before or after stimulation with PHA.  The repeated Denialist claim that control cultures are not stimulated is false.  HUT-78 does not produce HIV "phenomena" with or without PHA stimulation unless it is infected with HIV.  The fact that the Perth Group themselves cited this reference makes it hard to believe that this mistake is due to ignorance.

This should be the last time the Perth Group ever try to claim this.  An honourable person would admit that they have been in error."


The text accompanying table 5 states:  "IL-2 secretion and HTLV-III production in infected human T4 leukemic cell lines before and after activation with PHA.  HUT-78 and JM cell lines were treated with PHA for 24 hours in the presence of macrophage and B cells as described in Table 1.  Nonactivated and activated cells were incubated with HTLV-III containing culture fluid for 1 hour at 37C, washed twice, and cultured in RPMI 1640/FCS."


No data is given regarding RT activity in the "uninfected" HUT-78 cell cultures.  It is only stated that the "Uninfected HUT-78 and JM cells do not express any RT activity in the culture supernatant before or after stimulation with PHA." Maximum RT activity is not at 24 hours after stimulation, but between days 5 to 12. 

While to the noninfected HUT-78 culture only PHA was added, to the "infected" culture in addition to PHA, the authors added "HTLV-III-containing culture fluids".   In addition to "HIV", the fluids: (i) had at least traces of PHA;  (ii) fragments of allogenic cells, which, according to the authors themselves, lead to cellular stimulation.


As far as the reported lack of RT activity in either the stimulated or unstimulated HUT-78 cell line, please see our rapid response:  "The cell lines HUT-102 and HUT-78".


Christopher Noble wrote:  "Unfortunately the Perth Group have not admitted to errors in the past and have instead chosen to remain silent".


We have given Christopher Noble repeated loud and clear answers.  Christopher Noble is not listening and spares no effort trying to derail the debate from its main topic, which is: has anybody proven the existence of a unique retrovirus presently known as HIV?




Competing interests: None declared