HUT-78 AND HTLV 31 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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In his rapid response "Sezary Syndrome 101", 21 August, Nicholas Bennett wrote: "Sezary Syndrome is a clinical manifestation in certain patients with T cell leukaemia. HTLV does indeed cause some cases of ATL. However, not all anyone with a grasp of oncogenesis would understand why this would be the case. And not all cases of ATL become Mycosis Fungoides which overlaps with Sezary syndrome.

The HUT-78 cell line was derived from a patient with Sezary Syndrome. But this is not the same cell line that HTLV was derived from.

By assuming that (a) all ATL is synonymous with HTLV infection and (b) all ATL is synonymous with Sezary syndrome the Perth Group are highlighting a lack of clinical knowledge and understanding. It is through oversimplifications like that they have come to their erroneous conclusions about HIV and AIDS.

HUT-78 is not infected with HTLV, although it is a good substrate for HTLV culture. The cell line used for Gallo's HTLV isolation was HUT102. Clearly not HUT78".

We have never claimed that: (a) all cases, (or even one case), of ATL are caused by HTLV; (b) all cases of ATL become Mycosis Fungoides which overlaps with Sezary syndrome; (c) "all ATL is synonymous with Sezary syndrome"; (d) HTLV was isolated from HUT-78. However, since Gallo reported the finding of the HTLV genome in HUT-78, the cell line must be infected with HTLV.

Competing interests: None declared