>>The guest on this week's CFS Radio Show was Dr.
>>Howard B. Urnovitz, senior scientific officer of Calypte Biomedical,
>>who has just made what he feels is a major scientific breakthrough
>>in the field of chronic illness research. He has found that
>>there are segments of DNA genes that actually rearrange
>>themselves according to the immune assault on the body
>>from toxic exposures in an attempt to be able to survive this
>>assault, but if the body is assaulted too much the body's response
>>to it, rather than helping can actually lead to many chronic
>>                             CFS Radio Program
>>                               Dec. 5th, 1999
>>                         Roger G. Mazlen, M.D. Host
>>                                    with
>>                           Dr. Howard B. Urnovitz
>>  ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> Dr. Mazlen
>> We have an important show for you. Our guest is in Zurich, Switzerland. By
>> way of introduction, Dr. Howard. B. Urnovitz is the founder and senior
>> scientific officer of Calypte Biomedical, a corporation which has been
>> investigating a variety of new technological and diagnostic modalities
>> especially for HIV 1 or AIDS. He is also head of the Chronic Illness
>> Research Foundation headquartered in Berkeley, California. We're very
>> excited to have him here as a guest with us today. Dr. Urnovitz has done
>> some outstanding work and I will just mention to kick off the show, he
>> published in Clinical and Diagnostic Laboratory Immunology a paper with
>> regard to findings in the serum, or in other words, the blood of Persian
>> Gulf War veterans and I'm going to let him tell us about it. Welcome,
>> Howard, welcome from Zurich.
>> Dr. Urnovitz
>> Thank you very much, Dr. Mazlen, it's nice to be on your show.
>> Dr. Mazlen
>> We're delighted. Tell us a little bit about the findings in the Gulf War
>> veterans of RNA segments which you call amplicons.
>> Dr. Urnovitz
>> Let me preface it by saying that we have been working in the field of
>> cancer, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and autoimmune diseases for well over 25
>> years, before Chronic Fatigue Syndrome we started off with cancer and it's
>> been a very difficult battle against these chronic diseases as you can
>> guess and when we had heard in 1993 that all the of a sudden a lot of the
>> veterans of the Persian Gulf War were coming down with many symptoms, many
>> characteristic of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, we felt that this could be a
>> major opportunity in medicine because never before had 700,000 people been
>> at one place at one time and started to show symptoms within a 2 to 3 year
>> time frame. So we had read the literature coming out of the United Kingdom
>> by some very fine scientists that felt some of the viruses, what's called,
>> the enterovirus family, these are viruses you've heard of like polio or
>> hepatitis A and the like, that they were actually finding sequences in
>> Chronic Fatigue patients, so we decided to see if that was the case in
>> these Gulf War veterans and we were shocked that we were getting a
>> positive reaction using this genetics test called PCR or polymerase chain
>> reaction, and to our surprise it was really quite strong and many of our
>> veterans and yet, not at all in our controls, we used two sets of
>> controls, it was either healthy blood donors or people that were applying
>> for life insurance, and to our surprise, though, what was different was
>> the pattern didn't seem right. While we were thinking we were picking up
>> polio virus, you had to be very careful. PCR is so powerful a technology
>> that we're just starting to understand all the signals we get from it, so
>> we do something that basically nobody else does in the field, I think
>> we're the first, is that we actually took some of these products of PCR,
>> and they're called amplicons--they're amplified products of this genetics
>> test--and we sequenced them, that is we actually went after what the
>> lettered nucleic acid sequence was. It could be in what DNA form is A, T,
>> C or G and to our surprise, it had nothing to do with polio virus or
>> enteroviruses. It showed some common chemistry with it but to our surprise
>> and two years after some very tough code breaking, we finally found out
>> that it was basically the human genome rearranging itself and we
>> hypothesized in the paper that it's doing so to try and detoxify the
>> plethora of chemicals and vaccines and toxic environment that these Gulf
>> War vets were exposed to. So this was a very significant finding and we
>> were very pleased that the American Society for Microbiology Journal,
>> CDLI, as you mentioned, published it, and published it with very great
>> comments. So, we think this is a first real key breakthrough in the field
>> of chronic illnesses and since then we've had 6 papers this year, now in
>> the field of Gulf War Syndrome, cancer, AIDS and multiple sclerosis. They
>> all seem to have the same mechanism. Your mother, father gives you your
>> genes, but then what you do with those genes is completely dependent on
>> the environment you're in and you rearrange those genes to help fight off
>> any new toxic exposures you have.
>> Dr. Mazlen
>> Now in the case of Gulf War Syndrome you found these segments of nucleic
>> acid material or amplicons were homologous or similar to regions of a
>> particular chromosome, 22Q11.2 which you call an antigen response of
>> hotspots. Can you explain that for the listening audience?
>> Dr. Urnovitz
>> Absolutely, now many of you in the audience may have heard this week
>> coincidentally that they've completely mapped chromosome 22 and that was
>> to our advantage because without that map we would not have known where
>> these segments came from. We, broke the code and started to find these
>> matching sequences to the 22nd chromosome, Q refers to the long arm, P is
>> the short arm, so it's the long arm of the chromosome and it's the 11th
>> band down, .2 section, so from this area we found many of the regions of
>> the human chromosome were in these nucleic acids that were circulating in
>> the blood of the veterans. Because I'm also a Ph.D. in microbiology and
>> immunology I've had extensive training in how the antibody system works.
>> Now, we know, for a fact, that you don't have a gene for an antibody. What
>> you have to do, is that you have to take and rearrange your DNA until the
>> body finds the best fit and it then takes this new gene and makes
>> antibodies with it. Well, isn't it a coincidence, that the area of the
>> light chain of the antibody, that is to say, the area that needs to
>> rearrange is 22Q11.2 so we dead on found the region that is absolutely
>> known as the hotspot for rearrangement also contributed to these RNA
>> sequences that we found in the blood so we may have stumbled on a whole
>> knew mechanism of how viruses, bacteria and chemicals and even radiation
>> interact with human chromosomes to create novel new proteins that we've
>> never seen before. And clearly a missing link in the chronic diseases.
>> Dr. Mazlen
>> Very exciting work, Howard. Of course, I congratulate you. I've been aware
>> of your work for a while. Just one quick thing. It's also been reported
>> recently in the literature that there may be some mycoplasma infections in
>> these Gulf War veterans and these mycoplasma infections may be
>> contributing to their illnesses in some way and even people have reported
>> that mycoplasma in general can be generally toxic. You can tell us just
>> briefly what you think about this and we'll spend more time on this after
>> the break. What, basically,do you say about that?
>> Dr. Urnovitz
>> The data has only recently been published in the journals so I've only had
>> it this year to look at it, and the good news is that when you look at the
>> data it really does show there's a genetics difference between these Gulf
>> War vets and the normal population because they also use PCR. I believe on
>> your last show you accurately pointed out that there's a disparity between
>> the antibody results which I believe you had ordered on many of your
>> patients and this mycoplasma. To date, we really have no evidence of
>> mycoplasma at all. I think it might be misinterpretation of the data.
>> Clearly there's genetics differences, but in clinical microbiology PCR
>> testing has to be followed by culture and we've heard some of these claims
>> and we've not seen in the literature at all any publication of back up
>> culture data, so for right now the mycoplasma issue is still in question.
>> What's not in question is that some people are responding to antibiotics.
>> So now the real trick is, why are people responding to antibiotics if it's
>> not mycoplasma, and this is the critical area we need to explore to try
>> and find out how to manage these chronic diseases.
>> Dr. Mazlen
>> Howard, talk to us about how this treatment results pan out in terms of
>> your research. What does it mean?
>> Dr. Urnovitz
>> Well, the best way to approach medicine is really to review the literature
>> and find out any anecdotal stories that we know of successes and then
>> build on that and bring science to it. We know, for a fact, if we look at
>> the Gulf War Syndrome and even in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome we know that
>> certain antibiotic therapies certain people respond to but in Gulf War
>> Syndrome the first antibiotic was done by Dr. Ed Heiman down in New
>> Orleans. He had noticed that people with bacteria in their urine, if he
>> gave them high doses of chlorythromycin over a long period of time, the
>> joint pains would go away and their chest would clear up and over all
>> health would be much much better and he's getting even more and more
>> successes and has gotten funding for it and we're very excited about that,
>> but what we're looking at now is that.. many of your listeners must know
>> the stories since the 80's of the original work of perhaps, the agent was
>> Epstein Barr virus or cytomegalovirus or any of the herpes virus families
>> and now the thought that now mycoplasma may be involved, and what may have
>> happened is that these viruses and bacteria may have initiated something.
>> Remember the other thing is that one of the major risk factors in the
>> world, the saying is from Europe, is that of being an American alive in
>> the 50's. Rachel Carson did one of the finest jobs of identifying all of
>> the toxic exposures we've had. So the question is, have we really
>> overburdened our human genome to the point that in the 80's we started to
>> come down with these chronic illnesses that may have gotten started by the
>> variety of different toxins we've been exposed to and the antibody
>> response we see as Epstein Barr or EBV or in some cases bacterial.
>> Dr. Mazlen
>> Can I mention also, SV40 which was in polio vaccine in the 50's.
>> Dr. Urnovitz
>> Absolutely, SV40 was given to a 100 million Americans that killed my
>> mother and father. We're putting together the final data to show that.
>> They were actually indicator populations because of their background. So
>> we have all this toxic exposures that are just now coming to light. We now
>> know that HIV most probably came from a variant of the polio vaccines in
>> Africa, so we're just starting to get through all this. But the key now is
>> for us not to dwell on how this got started, although it's clinically
>> important that we find out, but now we have to figure how do we control or
>> stop this. And the answer comes from some literature that's coming out
>> that the formation of these amplicons, these pieces of RNA that we're
>> finding in the blood and we find in the blood of Chronic Fatigue patients,
>> cancer patients, Gulf War vets, post polio syndrome, Turret's Syndrome,
>> Parkinson's, just about every chronic illness. We also notice that there's
>> a literature coming out that antibiotics inhibit the formation of these
>> novel rearranged RNAs. That's an exciting area. We didn't know this
>> before. Now, if you read the literature you realize that antibiotics with
>> viruses and bacteria. There's a co-revolution that that as bacterial and
>> viruses got mutated and changed some of their characteristics, so did the
>> antibiotics in the bacterial world which most of these come from, but not
>> exclusively. So, now we have to focus on treatment of these, that and
>> given the fact that we now have these rearranged genes in us. So, we're
>> thinking of several areas. We're thinking of areas such as antibiotics to
>> stop the formation of these groups. There's a Dr. Durie in Los Angeles
>> who's pioneering a piece of work in cancer using things that inhibit RNA
>> polymerase 3 which is a certain enzyme in the body that creates the
>> formation of these RNAs and he's having some success in about 20 - 25%
>> percent of his patients. We should also look at.. your sponsor
>> (HemispherX) has a drug that we're looking very closely at, double
>> stranded RNA or ampligen will help induce enzymes that chew up the RNA
>> called RNases and we should also look at getting rid of the actual message
>> that's found in the body. So if we start targeting this approach, now
>> we're looking at how the successes in the AIDS epidemic where combination
>> therapy where they started to combine several different classes of drugs
>> to start bringing down a marker which was the viral load test, all of a
>> sudden that started to drop, the question now is can we use that same
>> paradigm in chronic diseases like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome to stop the
>> formation of these new genes, stop their polymerization and also induce
>> the enzymes in the body's system to degrade, should be thinking along
>> these ways as treatment options till we get the genes down and then
>> everytime they pop try that therapy again. This is a whole new direction
>> in medicine and we're just getting started.
>> Dr. Mazlen
>> And we're very grateful that you are getting started with and look forward
>> to further results. This is a good time for you to give us an email where
>> the listening audience can contact you for further information or get on a
>> mailing list for your new papers.
>> Dr. Urnovitz
>> It's on AOL, as yours is. It's HERVDOC@aol.com, which is human endogenous
>> retrovirus doctor at aol.com. We have a website now and we'll be updating
>> it in February but please sign on our mailing list and that's
>> http://www.chronicillnet.org
>> Dr. Mazlen
>> Now you mentioned ERV which stands for endogenous retroviruses. How do
>> these play a role in what's going on in your research. What have you found
>> here?
>> Dr. Urnovitz
>> We wrote a paper back in 1996 that summarized the field. We wrote in
>> Clinical Microbiology Reviews. It's an exhaustive paper. It took us two
>> years to write but it basically said that we think that the human genes
>> are very much a part of chronic illnesses and it turns out that one
>> percent of your body, one percent of your is actually a retrovirus, the
>> virus that many people know about as the AIDS virus is in that same
>> family, but this is an endogenous retrovirus, it's only passaged from
>> mother to child in the gene line and it's about one percent of your genome
>> called human endogenous retroviruses or HERVs. The other area we're
>> looking at is in the same family. This is a family of genes called retro
>> elements and they're called retro elements because they're actually
>> jumping genes, they'll jump out of the human genome. They will rearrange
>> through and RNA intermediate and then reinsert themselves again, that's
>> what HERVs do. There's another jumper gene called ALUs and that is 5% of
>> your body. So 6% of your body is a jumping gene that's absolutely turned
>> on whenever the cell is exposed to toxic exposures. They ALUs actually
>> cause the mechanism for rearrangement so that you create these new genes
>> and the way that endogenous retroviruses come into this pathway is that
>> once you select a successful rearrangement that the body can use to help
>> save itself in this toxic environment it will actually transcribe it or
>> reverse transcribe the RNA back into DNA so that the cell can archive it
>> and use it again the next time your exposed to a toxin. So this system is
>> absolutely involved in chronic diseases. It's first involved in helping
>> the body stave off toxic exposures but when you have too much over a long
>> period of time with a bad combination, then you reach a threshold where
>> it's no longer helping the body, it's now causing a chronic illness. So,
>> these are absolutely integrally a part of the chronic disease pathway
>> which is multifactorial and multiphasic.
>> Dr. Mazlen
>> I want to go right back to Dr. Urnovitz because I want him to tell us
>> about his plea for more research funding. Howard, what do you have to do
>> here?
>> Dr. Urnovitz
>> Well, as it turns out right now, the field of chronic diseases has really
>> been under funded. It's been funded more for political reasons then
>> anything. There is, of course, a disproportionate amount of funding in
>> AIDS versus almost nothing in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and I think the
>> answer most probably is that there's a lack of linkage between toxic
>> exposures and actual disease and we're hoping that, and we obviously must
>> have been heard on the hill, that we have found a fundamental breakthrough
>> that links toxic exposures and then decades later these chronic diseases
>> and so we were very honored when one of the great Americans, I think, of
>> all time, is the congressman from Connecticut, Christopher Shayes really
>> stood up to the Department of Defense and Veteran's Affairs, and said
>> "Look, this is a cover up, this whole Gulf War Syndrome and I'm not going
>> to give up until we get to the bottom of it," and, of course, that then
>> led to the discovery that there was a Gulf War Syndrome. It's the same
>> history as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome which was also difficult to get the
>> Center for Disease Control to put as a disease. I'm on the panel with Dr.
>> Haley who's been in the news all this week with showing the brain lesions
>> in Gulf War Veterans. My plea is simple. The government has spent probably
>> over $110 million dollars basically flushed down the toilet to say that
>> ___(sp?)___bromide may, in fact, be a causative factor. What they did with
>> a 100 million dollars is disgraceful to any tax payer. What we did for
>> less then $300,000 and came up with a major breakthrough. Our plea is
>> simple and it's a one liner. Start making funds available for retro
>> elements. That means endogenous retroviruses and ALU sequences. The
>> government right now, the National Cancer Institute, The National
>> Institutes of Health call this "junk DNA". That's how the endogenous
>> retrovirus field is known. Dr. Mazlen, you've been in this field for 10
>> years, so you know what it's like to try and get funding for anything that
>> has the word "junk" in it. Well, it turns out this "junk" is the very
>> basis of why we're ill and until the U.S. government starts making funding
>> available for retro element and retro element research, we will continue
>> to come up with the wrong pathways. We will continue to chase the wrong
>> viruses and the wrong bacteria until people start to finally realize that
>> the human body and the human genome is actively involved in chronic
>> disease.
>> My second summary point is that while the others are doing a phenomenal
>> job of mapping the human genome, our research foundation, the Chronic
>> Illness Research Foundation, we won't be mapping the human genome. We're
>> going to be mapping the detours that the body takes and that's going to be
>> the second critical part of funding because once we get done with the
>> human genome, now we need to map what new genes come up whenever we're
>> exposed to toxins. Because in this city of Zurich, God does not play dice
>> with the universe. We know the genes rearrange specifically.
>> Transcribed by
>> Carolyn Viviani
>> carolynv@inx.net
>> Permission is given to repost, copy and distribute this transcript as long
>> as my name is not removed from it.

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