Sorry, Hitch. Religion doesnt poison *everything*.
Thanks to the bumbling efforts of ‘respected’ scientists like Judy Mikoivts, we now know that its not religion, but mouse DNA, that poisons everything.
Relatively new readers of ERV are well aware of the fact that all efforts to connect XMRV to any human pathogen have ended up being the result of contamination. Though patient samples from the WPI were contaminated with plasmid in a rather convenient (strategic?) manner, others attempting to find the virus have universally determined that their ‘positive’ results are actually the result of mouse DNA contaminating their samples, their reagents, even their Qiagen columns. ‘XMRV’ only momentarily appeared to be a human pathogen because mouse DNA poisons everything.
But only looooooong-time readers of ERV know that this is not new at all. Though XMRV True Believers like to pretend that the inability to connect a mouse retrovirus to their pet disease is a conspiracy, the fact of the matter is, retrovirologists have been playing this same game, with different viruses, for decades. The most prominent being attempts to connect Mouse Mammary Tumor Virus with human breast cancers.
It makes sense to look. I mean, a mouse retrovirus unquestionably causes breast tumors in mice. Humans get breast tumors. Are any human breast tumors the result of mouse retroviral infection?
We dunno. Some labs say ‘Yes.’ Some labs say ‘No.’ Some labs say ‘Maybe?’ And amazingly, this controversy has gone on for years and years and years without anyone getting a death threat.
But, thanks to the XMRV fiasco, we are now acutely aware of the fact mouse DNA poisons everything. Mice have lots of endogenous MMTV viruses. How do we know if the studies connecting MMTV to human breast cancers arent as contaminated as the XMRV papers?
Well, we have to look. And papers where they do a TON of hard work, but dont honestly and critically take mouse DNA contamination as a possible explination for their data are wasting their time an effort. Sad example?
A mouse mammary tumor virus env-like exogenous sequence is strictly related to progression of human sporadic breast carcinoma.
The people involved with this paper are, unquestionably, hard workers. They are also, unquestionably, pathologists, not retrovirologists, and it shows.
What XMRV has taught us is that no matter what technique you use, mouse DNA poisons everything. To be 100% sure that what you are observing is real, you need to 1) sequence all of your putative viruses, 2) BLAST those sequences vs the mouse genome, and 3) map integration sites and verify the flanking DNA is human.
We dont have to ‘guess’ whether sequences are the result of contamination. There are formulas to use and programs to run that tell you whether two sequences are significantly different, or probably the same and the ‘differences’ were just sequencing errors. If you find a sequence in a patient that is 99.99999% identical to a mouse ERV on Chromosome 2, and find a different sequence in that patient in a sample collected 10 years later that is 99.99999% to a mouse ERV on Chromosome 11, that is not ‘viral evolution’. Its your samples being contaminated with mouse DNA. And its fine and dandy to identify integration sites, but if you have to verify that the integration site is a) human and b) makes sense. Thanks to XMRV, we know what to look for, and if you dont look for it, you are wasting your time.
These researchers wasted their time.
Allllll this hard work, trying to find MMTV in human breast tumors. They *did* sequence some bits of the Envelope gene… but didnt tell any of us the sequences. They *did* BLAST their sequences… against the human genome, not mouse. They did *not* map/verify retroviral integration sites.
Allllll this hard work, wasted, because thanks to XMRV, I cant believe any of their other data. Not because they are not competent researchers, not because I think theyre frauds, but because mouse DNA poisons everything.