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Baboon to Human Marrow Transplant - RFI

Marnix L. Bosch marnix at u.washington.edu
Thu Dec 21 09:24:11 EST 1995

In article <30D88AE8.C1C at limestone.kosone.com>, "richard d. eng"
<richarde at limestone.kosone.com> wrote:

> Can baboon cells survive in human body? For how long?

Yes, cells from other species can survive, especially if the immune system
of the recipient is first paralysed by specific immunosuppressive
treatment. How long the bone marrow stem cells will survive is hard to
predict, but potentially a state of 'permanent chimerism' could be induced
where part of the patients immune system is made up by baboon cells.
> Can other retroviral agents be present in baboon stem cells jump 
> species?

Absolutely, and not just retroviruses. Herpesviruses, parvoviruses and
morbilliviruses come to mind. There is no limit here. These agents are now
offered an opportunity where they can replicate unchecked (in the baboon
cells) in the absence of a functioning immune response (the human immune
system is suppressed and the baboon immune system is not yet established,
if it ever will). Any mutation that gives these agents the possibility to
replicate in human cells will immediately be selected for and a 'species
jump' has been established.

> Can these boboon retroviral agents, if present, recombine with HIV to 
> form a more dangerous virus?

Potentially yes, but it would depend on these viruses coinfecting the same
target cells with sufficiently high frequency for this to happen. 

My personal feeling is that this experiment creates a precedent to
establish a scenario where we introduce known and unknown, potentially
very dangerous, viruses into the human population. If we didn't have an
HIV in humans yet, this would be the way to go about 'creating' one.


Marnix L. Bosch

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