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FTR #282 A Shot in the Dark: Designer Genes & the AIDS Vaccine

Lis­ten:
MP3 One Seg­ment [1]
RealAu­dio [2]
NB: This RealAu­dio stream con­tains FTRs 282 and 283 in sequence. Each is a 30-minute broad­cast.

Spec­u­la­tive in nature, this pro­gram exam­ines aspects of med­ical research, genet­ic engi­neer­ing and their appli­ca­tion to the dis­ci­pline of bio­log­i­cal war­fare devel­op­ment.

1. The pro­gram begins with dis­cus­sion of a pro­jec­tion by British med­ical experts. They fore­cast that genet­ic engi­neer­ing will per­mit the devel­op­ment of “design­er” bio­log­i­cal weapons that would take advan­tage of genet­ic dif­fer­ences between var­i­ous eth­nic groups in order to kill cer­tain spe­cif­ic, tar­get­ed groups, while leav­ing oth­ers unscathed. (“No Longer Sci­ence Fic­tion! Racial­ly-Tar­get­ed Weapons May Become Real­i­ty Soon;” Reuters; 1/21/1999.)

2. In the con­text of the impend­ing real­i­ty of eth­ni­cal­ly-tar­get­ed, genet­i­cal­ly engi­neered bio­log­i­cal weapons, one should con­sid­er the poten­tial impli­ca­tions of a new drug that has been designed specif­i­cal­ly for African-Amer­i­cans. (“FDA Paves the Way for First ‘Eth­nic’ Drug” by Vic­to­ria Grif­fith; Finan­cial Times; 3/9/2001; p. 16.)

3. This drug is osten­si­bly designed to pre­vent heart fail­ure. (Idem.)

4. This broad­cast pos­es an implic­it ques­tion. “Might (or has) this tech­nol­o­gy been applied in such a way that this (or anoth­er) drug might cause heart fail­ure, or some oth­er debil­i­tat­ing or fatal ill­ness?” (There are sub­stan­tive alle­ga­tions that con­tin­gency plans to elim­i­nate African-Amer­i­cans may be a polit­i­cal real­i­ty. This also relates to the “sci­ence” of eugen­ics.)

5. The British mag­a­zine New Sci­en­tist report­ed that Aus­tralian gene engi­neers had con­vert­ed a mouse­pox virus into a dead­ly killer. (“Killer Virus: An Engi­neered Mouse Virus Leaves Us One Step away from the Ulti­mate Bioweapon;” New Sci­en­tist; 1/10/2001.)

6. The mouse­pox virus is close­ly relat­ed to the human small­pox virus, and the inser­tion of the mol­e­cule inter­leukin 4 (IL‑4) made the rodent ver­sion much dead­lier. (Idem.)

7. Specif­i­cal­ly, the virus destroyed the immune sys­tems of the infect­ed mice, and fit proved resis­tant to a vac­cine that would nor­mal­ly pro­tect mice from infec­tion. (Idem.)

8. Sci­en­tists are afraid that, if IL‑4 were added to the human small­pox virus, it could become much dead­lier. (Idem.)

9. Next, the broad­cast sets forth a new, exper­i­men­tal AIDS vac­cine that uti­lizes a mod­i­fied small­pox virus. (“AIDS Vac­cine Shows Promise in Mon­key Exper­i­ments” by Paul Recer [Asso­ci­at­ed Press]; San Fran­cis­co Chron­i­cle; 3/9/2001; p. A13.)

10. In light of the pos­si­bil­i­ty of genet­i­cal­ly alter­ing the small­pox virus to increase its lethal­i­ty, as well as the indi­ca­tions that AIDS was dis­trib­uted through an exper­i­men­tal hepati­tis B vac­cine, the use of an altered small­pox vac­cine in an AIDS vac­cine should raise eye­brows. (The prob­a­bil­i­ty that AIDS stemmed from the appli­ca­tion of genet­ic engi­neer­ing to bio­log­i­cal war­fare is dis­cussed in numer­ous pro­grams not­ed above.)

11. It should be not­ed that this coun­try is par­tic­u­lar­ly vul­ner­a­ble to an out­break of small­pox, due to the rel­a­tive scarci­ty of the vac­cine. (“The Night­mare of Bioter­ror­ism” by Lau­rie Gar­rett; For­eign Affairs; January/February 2001; p. 77.)

12. In addi­tion, the exist­ing vac­cine has dete­ri­o­rat­ed, ren­der­ing the U.S. all but defense­less against an out­break. (Ibid.; p. 78.)

13. Next, the pro­gram excerpts FTR#212. High­light­ing the man­ner in which the SV40 virus caus­es can­cer, the pro­gram reviews the role of a pro­tein called large T‑antigen in neu­tral­iz­ing the P53 gene. (“The Virus and the Vac­cine” by Deb­by Bookchin and Jim Schu­mach­er; The Atlantic Month­ly; February/2000.) [3]

14. The p53 gene pre­vents genet­ic irreg­u­lar­i­ties (and result­ing can­cers) by killing cells that have divid­ed imper­fect­ly. (Idem.)

15. The fail­ure of this gene fig­ures in a large per­cent­age of can­cers. (Idem.) (The land­mark work of Ed Haslam has high­light­ed the role of SV40 in caus­ing can­cer. SV40 was a con­t­a­m­i­nant in the polio vac­cine of the 1950’s. There are numer­ous broad­casts with, or about, the work of Haslam avail­able from Spit­fire. Ed is the author of Mary, Fer­rie and the Mon­key Virus: The Sto­ry of an Under­ground Med­ical Lab­o­ra­to­ry. Copy­right, 1995 by Wordsworth Press.)

16. The ade­n­ovirus (that caus­es the com­mon cold) also deac­ti­vates the p53 gene. (“A Thank You to the Vol­un­teers Who Step Up for Clin­i­cal Tri­als” by Tom Abate; San Fran­cis­co Chron­i­cle; 3/6/2000.)

17. The ade­n­ovirus is being explored as a vehi­cle for “gene ther­a­py,” (Idem.) This tech­nique entails the use a virus with altered DNA to inject nucle­ic acid into dam­aged cells for ther­a­peu­tic pur­pos­es.

18. Mer­ck (the com­pa­ny that made the exper­i­men­tal AIDS vac­cine) is now test­ing an AIDS vac­cine that uses a mod­i­fied ade­n­ovirus. (“Mer­ck Starts Human Tri­als of AIDS Vac­cine” by Mark Schoops; Wall Street Jour­nal; 2/22/2001; pp. B1-B4.) At the core of the hypoth­e­sis under­ly­ing this broad­cast, is the cer­tain­ty that what Mr. Emory calls “the Under­ground Reich” may abuse some of these genet­ic engi­neer­ing tech­niques in order to pro­duce weapons of mass destruc­tion and/or geno­cide. It should be not­ed that ele­ments of this Under­ground Reich exist both inside and out­side of gov­ern­ment. They also are deeply involved with the med­ical and phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal indus­tries.