From my investigations I also came across information about BSE/vCJD, scrapie, and indirectly Multiple Sclerosis. In particular, the work of Professor Alan Ebringer, Professor of Immunology, School of Health and Life Sciences, Kings College, University of London, impressed me enormously.I understand that his research indicates that BSE and MS are both auto immune diseases, and that these diseases have a link to the presence of Acinetobacter and Pseudomonas. His findings regarding BSE are thus in conflict with Prusiner's Nobel prize winning prion theory.
Professor Ebringer's funding from the UK Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has just been withdrawn, so that the next stage of his research (to investigate whether vCJD patients also exhibit antibodies to Acinetobacter) has been axed. His entire department at Kings College is to close down, shortly, and all the expertise will be lost.
There is a lot in the news recently regarding the "epidemic that never was", and scientists are hastily revising estimates of future cases of vCJD. Surely, scientists should be re-examining the original prion theory, Nobel prize winner or not, especially the claim (which I understand was made by Prusiner) "A million cattle infected with BSE entered the British food chain so almost everyone in the country will have been exposed to the infectious prion proteins that cause variant CJD..."
However, in spite of this DEFRA is funding further research based on the prion theory, and yet blocking Ebringer's funding. (I refer to the TSE research on sheep brains which I believe is being undertaken by Prusiner, the apparent purpose of which is to prove that BSE can be transmitted across the species into sheep under experimental conditions. It is envisaged that a mass slaughter of the UK sheep flock may well result as a result of this "research". I understand that the nature of the research defies immunological principles, and is therefore flawed). The persistence by DEFRA in funding research connected with the prion theory is all the more surprising in view of the recent funding fiasco in the same area, regarding a long term TSE research project supposedly examining sheep brains. In error, cattle brains had been used in the research.
If Professor Ebringers theory can be confirmed that BSE and MS are autoimmune diseases which are linked to the microbe Acinetobacter, the implications are of huge importance and are far reaching. The following conclusions arise:
1) There will be no CJD epidemic.
2) A cure for vCJD, based on treatment for Acinetobacter, could be set in motion.
3) BSE cannot be passed on by eating infected meat. The meat from BSE cows is safe to eat and has always been safe to eat.
4) The massive cattle cull was unnecessary.
5) The devastating blow dealt to the UK livestock industry, and elsewhere, was unnecessary.
6) The financial outlay for the BSE disaster of #5 billion of taxpayers money could have been spent on other socially more relevant needs.
7) The massive European and wider research programmes on TSEs in sheep, with potentially disastrous implications for the sheep industry in the UK, are flawed and therefore worthless.
8) A possible cure for MS may be found.
9) The extremely costly tonsil screening programme plus associated costs was unnecessary.
9) Reputations will be damaged.
10) It may pave the way to improving the reputation/perception of science/scientists in the eyes of the public, by allowing scientific research to be open to rigorous peer group scrutiny, by showing that alternative views are encouraged rather than suppressed, and most importantly that funding is not linked to producing politically acceptable results.
How can good science/scientists succeed in the face of seemingly insurmountable opposition?
I want to see good science prevail, and I also wish to somehow make a difference for Professor Ebringer and his team. After I wrote to him requesting information, he took the trouble to send me a brief summary of his arguments, plus copies of articles published. I feel that considerable talent is being wasted, and possible cures for devastating diseases being denied the public. I think that his treatment by DEFRA UK makes a mockery of the research funding process, and represents a gross insult to a highly regarded immunologist.
Anne Lambourn (Mrs)