TWiV 99: ICAAC Boston 2010

19 September 2010

Host: Vincent Racaniello

Vincent tours the 50th Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (ICAAC) in Boston, speaking with exhibitors and visitors, including Professors Derek Smith, Michael Schmidt, Frederick Hayden, and Myra McClure.

Many thanks to Chris Condayan and Ray Ortega of the American Society for Microbiology for recording and editing this episode.

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  • Spider

    Very kind of McClure to pretend that her XMRV study hadn't settled the matter, even being willing to go through the motions of testing new samples 'in the interest of science'.

    That's the sort of relentless intellectual curiosity and personal modesty that scientific pioneers have always had.

    PS: I don't think she can really believe Wessely was eagerly awaiting a positive study, even if she was clear about having never met him. Also, Wessely claimed that he had been approached for samples by the virologists, while McClure claims it was the other way around – they're not fighting for the credit on this one.

    Thanks for the rest of the pod-cast though, even if the CFS stuff only served to prompt my own paranoid ramblings.

  • David

    Hi,
    I really like the video format, just like the NIH video casting site (http://videocast.nih.gov). But, it makes me wonder how, in the years to come, scientific works will be presented. A video can catch my attention for longer time than a print version of the same data, I think this is due to the fact that the process of producing the data is the fun part of science, the problem solving strategies taken by the scientist. But, will we have in the future Science networks broadcasting 24/7 just as the news networks? and will this massive media actually distract the attention by using marketing strategies applied to projects instead of the real important data speaking by itself? I am just wondering how should we get prepare to compete in the future, should we get a PhD in science, one in marketing, one in bioinformatics, one in statistics, or collaborate with all of them? It just sounds like a company launching a product, isn´t? No more one, two or three authors paper´s ever!!!! (Baltimore D. Nature. 1970;226:1209-11.)
    Thanks for the podcast,
    David

  • Anonymous

    Derek Smith 3:15-19:30
    antigenic map

    10000-20000 flu strains analysed globally per season (5:00)
    (but presumably not all are sequenced)
    typically in Germany they had ~20 HAs sequences per season,
    sequences not public.

    http://www.antigenic-cartography.org/cam/

    http://www.virology.nl/
    http://www.virology.nl/files/new.pdf

  • Nicola

    Myra McClure says that if you use a reagent that is purified using a monoclonal antibody it could be contaminated with mouse viruses, because these antibodies are made from hybridomas that are all infected with mouse viruses. Even though I have had CFS for 28 years and haven’t studied immunology since 1982, I do remember what a hybridoma is. So it does seem that this type of contamination is possible.

    My question to the professional scientists: Isn’t this why we do contols? If the reagent was contaminated wouldn’t the negative control be positive for virus?

    She also implies at one point that it’s odd that the XMRV/PMRV could overcome our innate defenses. Is this intended to confuse patients? What are our “innate defenses” but our immune system and skin, etc. And viruses can’t overcome this? Isn’t that why we have a science of human virology–because viruses overcome people’s defenses every day?

    She calls the Lo et al results “bizarre”. This sounds awfully close to ad hominen, the way she said it. Also, I didn’t think it was bizarre for viruses to jump species more than once, or to exist in a variety of subtypes. I thought that was already known. HIV for example. Dr. McClure, if you haven’t listened to Prof. Racaniello’s lecture on HIV, you can learn all about seqence variation in HIV there, as well as learn that there have been not just one but several jumps from primates to man for that virus.

    Also Dr. McClure, you appeared not to understand the question about the sequence similarity between some of the viral sequences found by Lo et al, and the viruses from specific strains of lab mice. Dr. Racaniello was raising the possibility, as he did in his previous TWiV, that the origin of PMRVs was in a lab mouse. He was not suggesting that each person in the Lo et al study had acquired PMRV from a mouse. He was suggesting that some time ago a virus jumped to a human from a strain of lab mouse and then spread in the human population. One wonders if you were legitimately confused or if you just wanted to deflect this question.

    Also, Dr. McClure suggests that if she can’t find the virus, it’s not there, and therefore Judy Mikovits lab must be contaminated. As has been published, the work for the Lombardi et al paper was not done in one lab. Samples were collected from patients and sent to directly to NCI for some of the work. There was XMRV found in patient samples that were never in Judy Mikovits’ lab.

    I have been ill for a long time so it is hard not to get emotional over this issue. But I do have some serious questions here that I hope some of the professional scientists can answer–especially my question about reagent contamination.

  • Nicola

    One other point–if you google pet mouse (or something similar) you will learn that some people keep mice as pets, and they are highly bred. There are many different coat patterns. Perhaps viruses have jumped from mice to humans in this way. I don't know what the relationship is between pet mice and lab mice, but pet mice have been bred in captivity for a long time and are not wild.

  • Nicola

    Myra McClure says that if you use a reagent that is purified using a monoclonal antibody it could be contaminated with mouse viruses, because these antibodies are made from hybridomas that are all infected with mouse viruses. Even though I have had CFS for 28 years and haven't studied immunology since 1982, I do remember what a hybridoma is.

    My question to the professional scientists: Isn't this why we do contols? If the reagent was contaminated wouldn't the negative control be positive for virus?

    One other point–if you google pet mouse (or something similar) you will learn that some people keep mice as pets, and they are highly bred. There are many different coat patterns. Perhaps viruses have jumped from mice to humans in this way. I don't know what the relationship is between pet mice and lab mice, but pet mice have been bred in captivity for a long time and are not wild.

    She also implies at one point that it's odd that the XMRV/PMRV could overcome our innate defenses. Is this intended to confuse patients? What are our “innate defenses” but our immune system and skin, etc. And viruses can't overcome this? Isn't that why we have a science of human virology–because viruses overcome people's defenses every day?

    She calls the Lo et al results “bizarre”. This sounds awfully close to ad hominen, the way she said it. Also, I didn't think it was bizarre for viruses to jump species more than once, or to exist in a variety of subtypes. I thought that was already known. HIV for example. Dr. McClure, if you haven't listened to Prof. Racaniello's lecture on HIV, you can learn all about seqence variation in HIV there, as well as learn that there have been not just one but several jumps from primates to man for that virus.

    Also Dr. McClure, you appeared not to understand the question about the sequence similarity between some of the viral sequences found by Lo et al, and the viruses from specific strains of lab mice. Dr. Racaniello was raising the possibility, as he did in his previous TWiV, that the origin of PMRVs was in a lab mouse. He was not suggesting that each person in the Lo et al study had acquired PMRV from a mouse. He was suggesting that some time ago a virus jumped to a human from a strain of lab mouse and then spread in the human population. One wonders if you were legitimately confused or if you just wanted to deflect this question.

    Also, Dr. McClure suggests that if she can't find the virus, it's not there, and therefore Judy Mikovits lab must be contaminated. As has been published, the work for the Lombardi et al paper was not done in one lab. Samples were collected from patients and sent to directly to NCI for some of the work. There was XMRV found in patient samples that were never in Judy Mikovits' lab.

    I have been ill for a long time so it is hard not to get emotional over this issue. But I do have some serious questions here that I hope some of the professional scientists can answer–especially my question about reagent contamination.

  • guest

    Myra McClure….science means keeping an open mind.

  • http://www.virology.ws profvrr

    Some excellent questions here. It's also clear that you have been listening very carefully. I'll try to answer some of them. With respect to mouse monoclonals and controls – of course, if you are looking for xmrv using a mouse monoclonal, you should also use a control antibody obtained from the same strain of mouse. As far as I know none of these controls have turned up xmrv contamination; but you would be surprised to see how many papers are published without them.

    You are correct, I did mean to suggest that xmrv went from a lab mouse to human once (or a few times) and then human to human; not mouse-human repeatedly. I think that pet mice could also have been a source of infection.

    Yes, viruses overcome innate defense all the time. There are dozens of ways that they do so, so this is not surprising.

    Possibly the best outcome of my chat with Dr. McClure is her belief that the XMRV/PMRV situation will all be sorted out within a year.

  • http://www.virology.ws profvrr

    I think there are still places for audio-only, although your comments on the power of video are right on. Commuters in cars, for example, will likely always prefer audio. Until cars become completely automated. I don't think we will have to worry about a future with 24/7 science broadcasting – scientists don't have the time, and I don't believe that journalists could be as compelling with science as they are with other types of news. But I could be wrong. Just get a Ph.D. in science, and if you like to communicate, you can do media as well. But the era of single-author papers is coming to a close, for sure.