Futures in Biotech 50: More biotech stories

9 December 2009

futures-in-biotechI joined host Marc Pelletier and George Farr, Justin Sanchez, and Dave Brodbeck for a discussion on recent big stories in bioscience. Topics included erasing memory, controlling neurons with light, the role of the new virus XMRV in prostate cancer and chronic fatigue syndrome, and prions as genetic elements in yeast.

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  • Petra

    Great podcast. In the discussion of XMRV, you mention that, after the virus was found in prostate cancer, you didn't know why the Whittemore Peterson Institute decided to look for it in CFS. It's because many people with CFS are known to have a defect in the RnaseL pathway, and the same defect was seen in the subset with XMRV-associated prostate cancer. Thanks and keep up the good work!

  • http://www.virology.ws profvrr

    Thank you! I couldn't recall that during the show.

  • teejkay

    Thanks for discussing XMRV. CFS has always felt very viral to most of us. It often starts out with a flu that seems to turn into a type of Mono with swollen glands and a stiff neck. In 1991, Elaine DeFreitas discovered a retrovirus that was similar to HTLV-II but the CDC shut her down and the CFIDS Assoc. of America cut off her funding. You can Google about this and it's all documented in Osler's Web by Hillary Johnson. After this happened, no researchers could get grants looking for viruses in CFS and the CDC made sure to psychologize CFS as much as possible and said we would all get better within a few months or at least a few years by exercising and going to Cognitive Behavior Therapy.

    The Whittemore's were distraught by this state of affairs and they wanted to find a cure for their daughter who has had CFS since she was 11 or so. They teamed up with Dr. Peterson in Reno and hired Judy Mikovits. They spent one million dollars and found XMRV. The End. Actually, it's just the beginning… ;)

    Cool radio show here. Thanks for the optimistic information. :) Oh and btw, you were talking about protein folding earlier. There is a lot of evidence that there is protein misfolding in CFS as well.

  • teejkay

    I was also wondering if you are aware of Retroviruses being used in Gene Therapy? See this link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov//pubmed/7595205
    and this quote is from the next link: “This hybrid amphotropic/Moloney murine leukemia virus was engineered in the 1980s.”
    http://www.retrovirology.com/content/6/1/86

    This looks like a possibility for how XMRV “jumped” species to us. What do you all think?

  • http://www.virology.ws profvrr

    I think it's unlikely that XMRV originated from a gene therapy trial.
    The viruses used for that purpose are defective and cannot replicate
    and spread to others. Besides, we would know from the sequence of XMRV
    if it were related to any of those vectors. The fact that XMRV is
    nearly identical to murine viruses (MLV) means it probably is a
    zoonosis, e.g. came from mice to humans. Whether it's from a lab mouse
    or a wild mouse is an interesting question.

  • teejkay

    Thank you for your reply. It's very helpful.

  • teejkay

    Thank you for your reply. It's very helpful.