24 hours of absurdity in virology

The strangest things have happened in the past 24 hours.

1– New FDA approved clinical trial of anti-HIV vaccine
YAY, right? Except I have no idea what the hell they are proposing to do in this clinical trial, other than what was mentioned in press releases– Its some kind of killed virus. Why the hell putting one killed virus of a currently innumerable quasispecies will do anything, I have no idea. So I tried to look up some back-info on this vaccine, SAV001, in PubMed. Nothing. Tried to look up what this researcher, Chil-Yong Kang, has done with HIV-1 vaccines (“Kang CY”[Author] hiv). Not much, and not recently. So, sorry folks. I cant write anything about this, because I have no idea what the the hell is going on here– if any of you readers have more info on this, I would actually appreciate it.

2– US tries to censor influenza research
You know that viral evolutionary biology/biochem research I wrote about a while back? The US government is officially trying to prevent the publication of that information– once again defying basic logic and science to make a stupid political maneuver.

1. Neither manuscript should be published with complete data and experimental details.

2. Conclusions of the manuscripts be published but without experimental details and
mutation data that would enable replication of the experiments.

Though I am irritated at how long it has taken to retract the XMRV–>CFS paper (aka That Piece of Shit Paper), I will currently cut Bruce Alberts some slack for this:

The resulting virus is sensitive to antivirals and to certain vaccine candidates and knowledge about it could well be essential for speeding the development of new treatments to combat this lethal form of influenza. The NSABB has emphasized the need to prevent the details of the research from falling into the wrong hands. We strongly support the work of the NSABB and the importance of its mission for advancing science to serve society. At the same time, however, Science has concerns about withholding potentially important public‐health information from responsible influenza researchers. Many scientists within the influenza community have a bona fide need to know the details of this research in order to protect the public, especially if they currently are working with related strains of the virus.

Row row fight the powah!

3. UV light has a negative effect on chickenpox virus infectivity
Yes, if you treat viruses with UV radiation, you reduce/eliminate the infectivity of said virus. This guy thinks this is new information, and thinks hes on to a novel explanation for chicken pox epidemiology:

“No one had considered UV as a factor before, but when I looked at the epidemiological studies they showed a good correlation between global latitude and the presence of the virus.”

Except when it isnt:

“For example, the peak incidence of chickenpox in India and Sri Lanka is during the hot, dry, sunny season. You would expect chickenpox to be at its lowest at this time, so at first this didn’t fit the theory. However, this was explained because UV rays are actually much lower in the dry season compared with the monsoon period.”

Yeah, if you take Summer Aphelion vs Winter Perihelion into account, UV light being the dominant factor in chicken pox epidemiology totally makes sense. It also explains why other viruses susceptible to UV light inactivation are also rare in tropic climates, like HIV-1. Wait…

But I guess since we dont have a chicken-pox vaccine, any new ideas are good ideas since we need to figure out a way to stop this virus, right? Wait…

An absurd 24 hours in virology.

[/annoyed]

Comments

  1. #1 david
    December 21, 2011

    To be fair, HIV is spread in ways that don’t expose it to UV rays. That’s what’s meant by the phrase “where the sun don’t shine”. In contrast, chickenpox is spread via shedding from lesions that are potentially exposed to sunlight. So it’s an interesting idea.

    As for the FDA “approving” a clinical trial: the agency will only stop a trial if it believes the conduct of the trial is unsafe or unethical. It will generally allow a low-risk trial to proceed even if the a priori chances of success are small.

  2. #2 Jack
    December 21, 2011

    I was reading about the deliberations over at Science and Nature only this morrow from the BBC of all people: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-16275946

    There was also this http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-16279365 and I loved the quote: ‘A senior US health official says “not everyone needs to know how to make a lethal virus”‘ Made me chuckle. You mad, bad, scientists, you!! :)

    I suppose once upon a time – not that many years ago – we would have done this stuff in secret at Portland Down or some abandoned island somewhere and nobody would be any the wiser – well until it really like leaked. Ah! The good old days.

    There was another story too about this Draco antiviral: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-16165605 which is being touted as a cure for the common cold. But I have yet to read anything else about it.

  3. #3 Justicar
    December 21, 2011

    @ David: lol.

    Now you know pandemonium which galloped through the mathematical world when the devastating non-proofs solving the p not p problem and the inconsistency of Peano’s arithmetic were released. (And then immediately slapped down).

    The world nearly stopped spinning that day (or night depending).

  4. #4 Shardule
    December 21, 2011

    Here is all I found:
    http://communications.uwo.ca/media/hivvaccine/

    Interesting that a killed vaccine would be used. What is the correlate of protection? How to account for differences between this killed strain and the ever-mutating strains in people?

  5. #5 Tom
    December 22, 2011

    I think I found the patent describing the recombinant inactivated HIV vaccine:
    http://www.google.nl/patents?hl=nl&lr=&vid=USPAT7067134&id=dWJ3AAAAEBAJ&oi=fnd&dq=chil+yong+kang+inactivated+HIV+vaccine&printsec=abstract

    I couldn’t find much information on the inactivation itself, the patent describes ‘an avirulent and non-cytolytic recombinant HIV wherein the NSS of the virus’ envelope glycoprotein is replaced with a non-cytolytic signal sequence which renders the virus avirulent’, which could be administered in inactivated form.

    Personally I can’t believe that this would work, it seems like a pretty straightforward solution to a complex problem. We’ll see what they’ll get out of it..

  6. #6 Poodle Stomper
    December 22, 2011

    Though I am irritated at how long it has taken to retract the XMRV–>CFS paper (aka That Piece of Shit Paper)

    Rejoice, then, for I bring unto you Christmas tidings of a fully retracted paper.

    http://blogs.nature.com/news/2011/12/xmrv-paper-withdrawn.html

  7. #7 Joe
    December 22, 2011

    One new piece of virology news: Science has now officially and completely retracted the Lombardi XMRV paper, even without the agreement of all the investigators.

    http://blogs.nature.com/news/2011/12/xmrv-paper-withdrawn.html

  8. #8 Poodle Stomper
    December 22, 2011

    @Joe, Haha, I win! One minute faster =)

    Also, you can read up on it here, too: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-12-22/chronic-fatigue-virus-link-research-from-2009-retracted-by-science-journal.html

  9. #9 Joe
    December 22, 2011

    @Poodle Stomper

    Curses! Foiled Again!

  10. #10 JKR
    December 24, 2011

    Kang Chil Yong (Univ Western Ontario) have made some waves in his native country of South Korea with his HIV vaccine that is being touted as a possible cure that could lead to a potential Nobel prize(?!) for Korea in the future. It’s just hype as far as I know.
    Disclosure: I just googled “강칠용” and translated some pages.

    Biol Chem. 1999 Mar;380(3):353-64.
    Development of HIV/AIDS vaccine using chimeric gag-env virus-like particles. PMID:10223338

    That’s the closest I’ve come to finding publication relevant to his vaccine.

  11. #11 Ken
    January 3, 2012

    The UV correlation sounds like confirmation bias and wishful thinking. But that’s your specialty isn’t it?

    The earth’s orbit is almost circular, there is no big difference in UV between ap nd perihelion.

    Where I live (not India, but onto the same damn planet), summer’s are drier and have a high UV index compared to winter when its much wetter and when we are slightly closer to the sun.

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