" It's all human - an
unwillingness to throw away hours and hours of what was thought to be
good research...worries about jeopardizing another grant that's being
applied for, the hurrying to come out with a paper first. And it isn't
limited to biology and cancer research. Scientists in many endeavors
all make mistakes, and they all have the same problems."
1. "It is contamination!"
2. The relevance to ME/CFS
Yesterday I forgot to
update the introduction (which I have introduced and maintained to have
a place to fit in some continuity, context and references for the texts
I write in Nederlog), that was the one for the Nederlog of the day
before. I uploaded the corrections today. Also, there now is a new
version of the index for 2013. 
And the rest of this is a
brief Nederlog about the subjects of contamination and medical science,
that may be regarded as a follow-up to ME/CFS:
Several causes - many confusions of February 6, last.
Almost three weeks ago, I
provided a link to a video of the press conference where dr. Ian Lipkin
and with Drs Alter, Mikovits and Ruscetti, explained why he and they
thought that the original finding of XMRV in blood of patients with
ME/CFS was due to contamination.
Here it is again for your
convenience, starting at the place where Dr
Lipkin explains it is contamination:
Clicking the image leads to 17 min 16 seconds into
video with drs Lipkin, Alter and Mikovits
The next day, I mentioned Adam Curtis, an
English documentary filmer, who turns out to have made quite a few
quite interesting documentaries, and this Nerderlog is about one of
them: "Modern Times: The
way of all flesh",
featuring Henrietta Lacks
Henrietta Lacks 1920-1951
Clicking the image leads to the Wikipedia article about her
and some of her cells, that
seem immortal, and that have lived on since the more than 60 years
since she died, and meanwhile have been used in a lot of medical
Henrietta Lacks died in
October 1951, but before her death from cancer
some of a tumor growing in her cervix had been isolated, which turned
out to keep multiplying when kept in a Petri dish, which was an
absolute first, and which soon inspired hope that this discovery might
help find a cure for cancer.
The story is complicated,
and told by Adam
Curtis in his nearly one hour
long documentary of 1997
which is quite interesting
if you are interested in science, medicine,
cancer or indeed racial discrimination, for the last enters because
Lacks' family was kept in the dark for a long time about the fact that
long after her death there were many more of her cells living and
dividing, in Petri dishes, in laboratories all over the world, than her
own body had had while she lived.
It is interesting for
patients with ME/CFS because a considerable part
of the story is about the fact that her cells, known in science as HeLa cells, turned
out to have contaminated a large number of cell cultures in many
laboratories, even including the Soviet Union.
This was discovered in the
sixties and seventies, and most of the documentary is about that fact,
and about the HeLa cells' inspiration, before the discovery of
the widespread contamination, of "the war on cancer", that was
subscribed to and funded (in part) by presidents Johnson and Nixon.
As with the XMRV-research
and the cause of ME/CFS, the scientific net
result of "the war on cancer" and finding its cause, was nought: Where
at one stretch of time, many medical scientists believed there were
great hopes for discovering a virus as the cause for cancer, after it
was discovered that many cell-lines, even in Russia, had been
contaminated with HeLa
cells, the fundaments for these theories had been pulled away, and
indeed in the US the funding for "the war on cancer" ceased or got much
There are, however, two
considerable differences with the
cells have been and still are widely used in medical research of
quite a few different kinds, as can be found by way of the last link.
And XMRV-research was initially propelled by the notion that if XMRV
would turn out to be the cause of ME/CFS, then there would have been
discovered a quite dangerous retrovirus.
2. The relevance to ME/CFS
If you have followed the
XMRV-saga, as I have, from October 9,
2009, when I first was
informed about it by mail, till October
8, 2011, when I decided - based on what I had meanwhile read by
others: I have no relevant medical or bio-chemical expertise, and never
pretended any - that very probably it was contamination and/or flawed
science, and if, like me and like almost all patients with the symptoms
of ME/CFS, you have no medical degree, and know little about
contamination in medical laboratories, "The way of all flesh"
is a quite interesting documentary.
It helps that it also is an
interesting documentary regardless of
ME/CFS, but it does shed light on the XMRV-saga, because it shows how
easy laboratory contamination can happen, and also how long
this may remain unknown, for it took quite a while to be found out and
established, and also bruised quite a few egos and upset a considerable
number of investigations into the cause(s) of cancer.
To end this, here is a bit
from the HeLa cells
Contamination is a larger issue than many like to believe or
consider. Taken directly from the ICLAC webpage: "The International
Cell Line Authentication Committee (ICLAC) aim to make cell line
misidentification more visible and to promote awareness and
authentication testing as effective ways to combat it. Regrettably,
cross-contamination and misidentification are still common within the
research community. Many cell lines were cross-contaminated during
establishment; this means that all work using those cell lines has
incorrectly used the contaminant – which may come from a different
species or a different tissue. A cell line is considered to be
misidentified if it no longer corresponds to the individual from whom
it was first established. Many cases of misidentification are caused by
cross-contamination, where another, faster growing, cell line is
introduced into that culture. Authentication testing is an effective
way to combat cell line misidentification. In 2011, the ATCC SDO
published a standard on authentication testing of human cell lines.
ICLAC was formed after publication of the standard to provide guidance
and an on-going focus for improvement in this area."