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For The Record  

FTR #199 The Politics of SV40

Lis­ten: Side 1 | Side 2

This pro­gram con­sists of the read­ing of the Atlantic Month­ly arti­cle: “The Virus and the Vacine.”

A con­sum­mate­ly impor­tant analy­sis, the arti­cle sets forth com­pelling infor­ma­tion con­firm­ing dis­cus­sion about the can­cer-caus­ing mon­key virus SV40. Orig­i­nal­ly dis­cussed in pro­grams deal­ing with Ed Haslam’s work in his book Mary, Fer­rie and the Mon­key Virus: The Sto­ry of an Under­ground Med­ical Lab­o­ra­to­ry (Wordsworth Press, copy­right 1995), the SV40 con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed the polio vac­cine admin­is­tered between 1955 and 1963. (Evi­dence sug­gests that the virus is still a vac­cine con­t­a­m­i­nant. Some of that evi­dence is pre­sent­ed in the analy­sis that fol­lows.) Cen­ter­ing on the work of Michele Car­bone on SV40’s role on mesothe­lioma (a rare and dead­ly lung can­cer), the broad­cast presents detailed sci­en­tif­ic dis­cus­sion of research that strong­ly sug­gests that SV40 is involved in the for­ma­tion of can­cers of the bones, ner­vous sys­tem, kid­ney and uterus. (Ed Haslam has pre­sent­ed data indi­cat­ing that SV40 may very well under­lie an under-report­ed epi­dem­ic of soft-tis­sue can­cers: can­cers of the breast and prostate, as well as lym­phoma.)

Car­bone’s find­ings have been con­firmed by a grow­ing num­ber of researchers, includ­ing sev­er­al who were ini­tial­ly skep­ti­cal of his results. Sig­nif­i­cant­ly, these researchers have impres­sive sci­en­tif­ic and med­ical cre­den­tials. The arti­cle high­lights the insti­tu­tion­al oppo­si­tion to the work of Car­bone and oth­ers, cen­tered in the Nation­al Can­cer Insti­tute’s Viral Epi­demi­ol­o­gy Branch and the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol. (The Nation­al Can­cer Insti­tute is impli­cat­ed in the devel­op­ment of AIDS. The CDC is also con­nect­ed with the cov­er-up of AIDS.) Con­tend­ing that the research of Car­bone and his peers was the result of lab­o­ra­to­ry con­t­a­m­i­na­tion by SV40 (a major tool of can­cer exper­i­men­ta­tion for many years), the NCI spon­sored a fal­la­cious (and prob­a­bly biased) study that attempt­ed to dis­cred­it the work show­ing that SV40 was onco­genic. The Atlantic Month­ly arti­cle is very read­able and read­i­ly com­pre­hen­si­ble to the lay per­son.

Pro­gram High­lights Include: detailed pre­sen­ta­tion of the sta­tis­tics rein­forc­ing SV40’s onco­genic role; analy­sis of why asbestos is (in all prob­a­bil­i­ty) no more than a co-fac­tor in the devel­op­ment of mesothe­lioma (it was pre­vi­ous­ly believed to be the cause of the dis­ease); infor­ma­tion that the SV40 found in tumors is active (express­ing can­cer-caus­ing pro­teins); con­fir­ma­tion that the SV40 present in tumors is the same virus that con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed the polio vac­cine (crit­ics had charged that it was a dif­fer­ent vari­ant); dis­cus­sion of a sec­ond, more dead­ly vari­ant of SV40 that con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed the vac­cine; dis­turb­ing indi­ca­tions that the virus may escape the four­teen-day cell cul­tures test­ed for viral con­t­a­m­i­nants in con­tem­po­rary vac­cines (the slow­er-grow­ing vari­ant takes 19 days to become detectable); detailed dis­cus­sion of large T‑antigen (the can­cer-caus­ing pro­tein in SV40 that appears to be the most onco­genic pro­tein ever dis­cov­ered); analy­sis of how large T‑antigen caus­es can­cer (it neu­tral­izes the anti-can­cer gene p53, anti-can­cer pro­teins called rb’s and dis­rupts whole DNA sequences of chro­mo­somes whose nuclei it has invad­ed); analy­sis of how SV40 escapes detec­tion by the immune sys­tem; proof pre­sent­ed by Adi Gaz­dar that SV40 found in tumors is not a con­t­a­m­i­nant (as charged by NCI and CDC); indi­ca­tions that a type of RNA called “anti-sense” can neu­tral­ize the onco­genic prop­er­ties of SV40. (Record­ed on 3/5/2000.)


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