Hank just received this email from our pal James MacCallister -- the colleague of Prof. Lynn Margulis, who wrote with her the very informative Amazon review of doc Bialy's book about the scientifc life and times (and travails) of UC Berkeley's one and only , and very own, Prof. Peter H. Duesberg:
"As we recently learned at Roger Williams College from the expert physician researcher from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, AIDS is unbelievably mutagenic. It makes billions of mutant versions in just 24 hours. And then some of these mutants mutate back to the original strain thus doing an end run around any vaccine. But yesterday I picked up one of the pantheon of primary science journals, Discovery magazine, to find an interview with David Baltimore. Baltimore is slurping from the Gates Foundation trough.
Here's his take:
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the first known case of AIDS. Is AIDS research, a quarter century later, where it should be? AIDS research today suffers a lot from our inability to figure out aroute to make a vaccine. The research in the treatment of the diseasehas gone very well, but what the less-developed world needs, and what we need, too, is a vaccine. Because of the biology of HIV, it has been extremely difficult to make such a vaccine—and it's not for lack of smart ideas. But the virus always seems to figure out a way around anything that we come up with. We're going to live in a world without an HIV vaccine for at least another decade, at the rate we're going. And we've been saying it's going to be another decade for the last few decades. So it's a very depressing circumstance.
What makes HIV so challenging to a biologist? The virus has found ways to protect itself—particularly against antibodies—almost completely. It hides in a cloud of sugar—carbohydrates—and it has only a few open spaces on its surface that are not covered in sugar. Those open spaces are so designed that the body finds it difficult to make an antibody that will be able toget in there and block the receptor sites that the virus uses to bind the cell. The end result is that this is one of those very rare diseases—there's hardly another like it—where the virus multiplies continuously at high levels and the immune system is unable to deal with it. What vaccines depend on is the immune system. We know that the standard vaccine simply won't work, and so we have to look for novel ways of making vaccines. But so far no one's come up with an answer.
Is it possible that no one will ever be able to develop a vaccine? I'm not positive it will be found. This may be a disease that we simply can't vaccinate against. And if you look at the other diseases we can't vaccinate against, they are the major killers in the world—malaria and tuberculosis in particular. We may live in a world where our only protection is educating people to protect themselves."
You'll notice no mention of billions of mutant HIV. Now it's a sugar cloud. Who says medical research isn't getting anywhere?"
Baltimore also has some other gems. For example, he explains away the entire 1986 fraud case involving our favorite AIDS crook, Robert Gallo, as "just a record-keeping problem that got blown out of proportion...people wrote things on paper towels back then, it was a different time..." I'm sure Bob will be pleased to learn he has received special dispensation from the Pope.