And then there's this, tying the attempts at an 
AIDS vaccine to US dominance via Genetic Engineering

From: The Institute of Science in Society
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AIDS Vaccines Worse Than Useless?

The US administration is offering AIDS-ravaged 
nations support for fighting AIDS tied to the 
purchase of GM products. The main anti-AIDS 
strategy is a class of vaccines that carries its 
own risks. Prominent AIDS researchers have called 
repeatedly for a moratorium as evidence of 
hazards accumulates. Dr. Mae-Wan Ho reports.

The complete document with references, is 
available in the ISIS members site. Full details here

George Bush has taken Europe to the World Trade 
Organisation over Europe’s de facto moratorium on 
GM imports. In the week of the G8 summit in 
Evian, France, Bush blasted Europe for 
perpetuating starvation in Africa by blocking US 
food aid with anti-GM policies, and announced his 
pledge of $15bn to combat AIDS globally, especially in Africa.

The UN Population Division reported earlier this 
year that by 2050, the population of the hardest 
hit nations will have risen by 400 million less 
than previously estimated because of AIDS. "This 
estimate could be the first sign that HIV-1 will 
cause extinction of human beings in this 
millennium unless an effective AIDS vaccine is 
developed," said a commentary by Veljko Veljkovic 
and colleagues in the Lancet, published in February.

The only AIDS vaccine to have progressed past 
phase 3 trial, made by VaxGen, took 5 years and 
involved 5108 gay men and 309 women. 
Unfortunately, it proved ineffective, and may even be harmful.

In the 3003 white and Hispanic volunteers who 
received VaxGen’s vaccine, a higher proportion 
suffered breakthrough infections than in the 1508 
controls: 6% vs 5%. Although the difference is 
not significant, it could indicate a dangerous 
trend. But the company is not releasing further details on the trial results.

A few days after Bush announced the AIDS package, 
US Congress was denounced for tying support for 
anti-AIDS research programmes in 50 countries to 
their acceptance of GM products. This accusation 
came from Julio Sanchez, representative of 
Mesoamerican Trade. Introducing GM food to 
hungry, malnourished nations ravaged by AIDS is 
bad enough in terms of health risks, but AIDS 
research programmes are heavily concentrated 
towards vaccine development with a strategy that 
introduces its own health hazards, as is becoming 
increasingly clear. During the past decade, a 
number of AIDS researchers, among whom Veljkovic 
and his team in Yugoslavia, have been studying 
the properties of the human immune deficiency 
virus, HIV-1, especially its envelop 
glycoprotein, gp120, which features in most of the AIDS candidate vaccines.

The gp120 protein is strongly immunogenic, which 
is why it is widely used in vaccines, in the hope 
that the body will produce antibodies against the 
protein and hence protect against the virus. But 
there have been many worrying signs that this may 
have just the opposite effect.

For although the body mounts a strong immune 
reaction against the protein, and produces 
antibodies against it, those antibodies fail to 
protect against the virus. One main reason is 
that the virus is very mutable, and can readily 
mutate to escape immune detection. In addition, 
the immune reaction mounted against the original 
gp120 undermines the effectiveness of the immune 
system by over-stimulating it, so that it is less 
effective to cope with new infections.

A recombinant gp120 vaccine tested in 
HIV-negative individuals in phaseI/II trails, was 
not effective in protecting against the disease. 
Not only that, participants in the trials had 
significant levels of circulating antibodies 
against the vaccine before they became infected, 
and came down with AIDS disease.

The vaccine could also be dangerous. A vaccine 
based on the gp120 from the strain SF2, actually 
suppressed the production of antibodies that 
could neutralise the later infecting virus, while 
boosting the production of useless antibodies 
that were specific for the vaccine strain, SF2. 
In other words, gp120 acts as a molecular decoy 
to disarm the body’s antiviral response, leaving 
it more vulnerable, and increasing the likelihood 
of rapid disease progression in those vaccinated 
that later became infected. This phenomenon is 
called "deceptive imprinting" of the immune system.

Were those effects predictable in advance of the 
clinical trials? Veljkovic and his colleagues answer a definite yes.

First of all, the part of the gp120 molecule that 
plays the dominant role in provoking an immune 
response is the V3 loop. The V3 loop and flanking 
regions are similar in base sequence and 
structure to the antigen-binding region of the 
human immunoglobulin (Ig) (antibody protein). And 
it has been proposed since the early 1990s that 
this immunoglobulin-like domain in gp120 may 
interfere with the immune regulatory network. 
This is strongly supported by later observations 
that the anti-V3 and anti-Ig antibodies of 
healthy individuals are similar in structure, and 
that antibodies reacting to V3 are present in sera that are HIV-negative.

In 1999, Howard Urnovitz and colleagues 
identified a mysterious case of AIDS in a French 
woman with no risk factors. Analysis of the 
isolated HIV viral envelope showed that it had 
homology to sequences found on at least 14 
different human chromosomes. This opened a whole 
new can of worms. Was this rare strain of HIV-1 
the result of genetic recombination (reshuffling) 
in the human genome, similar to that found in 
veterans suffering from Gulf War syndrome (see 
"Dynamic genomics", this series)? Antibodies to 
human endogenous retroviruses were found in the 
urine of patients with clinical AIDS. Thus, 
vaccinating against HIV-1 may be tentamount to 
vaccinating people against their own genes (see 
"Endogenous retroviruses & chronic disease", this 
series). Does that mean genetic reshuffling and 
retroviral elements in the human genome may have 
a key role to play in AIDS disease, as in Gulf 
War Syndrome and other chronic disease?

Another piece of evidence implicating genetic 
recombination is that the V3 loop and its 
flanking regions are located between 
recombination signals similar to those found in 
human immunoglobulins, and also similar to the 
Chi recombination hotpots found in many viruses 
and bacteria. Consequently, the immunologically 
dominant region of gp120 may be involved in 
recombining with human immunoglobulin genes 
resulting in autoimmune responses, and may also 
recombine with co-infecting viruses and bacteria 
to generate new pathogens. Evidence of such 
recombination has subsequently been found in the sera of AIDS patients.

Many other observations have linked gp120 with 
auto-antibodies that react against the body’s own 
cells and enhance the infectivity of HIV-1, and 
those researchers have also issued warnings against AIDS vaccines.

In fact, warnings against AIDS vaccines go back 
to Albert Sabin, one of the most prominent viral 
vaccine developers of the 20th century. "The 
available data provide no basis for testing any 
HIV vaccine in human beings either before or after infection," Sabin stated.

The current issue of Vaccine carries an article 
evaluating the long-term safety of a range of 
AIDS vaccines involving 3189 HIV uninfected, 
healthy volunteers who were enrolled into 51 
NIAID (NIH) - sponsored Phase I and II clinical 
trials. It concluded that there were no adverse 
effects. Veljkovic remarks, "This conclusion was 
based on analysis of many important parameters 
….Unfortunately, the key information - comparison 
of the health status between breakthrough 
infected vaccinated volunteers and control 
subjects who participated in these trials - was 
not reported, just as it was not reported by 
VaxGen in the results of their Phase III clinical trial."

Unless this information is reported, says 
Veljkovic, the companies and institutions that 
organized these clinical trials are in danger of 
committing a scientific and ethical misconduct.

It is pertinent to point out that transgenic DNA 
in GM food and feed also carry recombination 
hotspots, such as the ones associated with the 
CaMV 35S promoter and the left and right borders 
of the Agrobacterium T-DNA used as vector to 
introduce transgenic DNA into the plant genome. 
These recombination hotspots enhance horizontal 
gene transfer and recombination. Furthermore, as 
Veljkovic said, the recombination hotspots in 
transgenic DNA may interact with the 
recombination signals flanking the V3 loop of the 
gp120 gene in AIDS vaccines to generate yet more exotic viruses.

Veljkovic and his colleagues have repeated their 
call for an immediate moratorium on the current 
clinical trials of HIV-1 gp120/160 vaccines.

This article can be found on the I-SIS website at

At 04:00 AM 2/16/2007, Michael Balter wrote:
>I want to make clear that I have no problem with 
>anyone questioning scientific "consensus" on an 
>issue, whether it be HIV causing AIDS or global 
>warming. But it has to be based on something. 
>Duesberg has been making the same arguments 
>about HIV for more than 20 years, and the same 
>snide remarks about scientists who think the 
>virus causes AIDS, oblivious to any of the 
>research that has gone on in the meantime. He 
>has been too lazy and arrogant to even change 
>his rhetoric to take into account new findings. 
>That to me is a sign of someone with a 
>pathological inability to admit he is wrong, and 
>yet he and some of his cronies managed to get 
>themselves onto the South African presidential 
>AIDS panel. So if Mitchel has reasons for 
>doubting the scientific consensus amongst AIDS 
>researchers, fine, but let him tell us what his 
>scientific objections are. Telling us that it is 
>just a big phamaceutical industry conspiracy 
>won't cut it, and telling us that he doesn't 
>know doesn't cut it either. The scientists who 
>study AIDS have rejected all the hypotheses he 
>proposes, so he needs to tell us why they are wrong to do so.