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Yet another conspiracy theory:
Several friends of mine have been sending me the latest claim (of course being promoted by the well-known conspiracy theorist Dr. Peter McCullough) that the mRNA vaccines will alter the human genome and cause “liver cancer” and other “chronic diseases”.
Note also Dr. McCullough’s numerous other false conspiratorial claims that he forwarded on the Joe Rogan show a few months ago on December 18, 2021 (Link)… Followed by Dr. Robert Malone on December 31, 2021, who also forwarded the same sort of sensational conspiracy theories (Link).
Side-by-side important reports reverse transcription, nuclear DNA code for Spike, both significant discoveries. Enormous implications of permanent chromosomal change and long-term constitutive Spike synthesis driving the pathogenesis of a whole new genre of chronic diseases. pic.twitter.com/oCj4BdzNEE
— Peter McCullough, MD MPH (@P_McCulloughMD) February 28, 2022
The Swedish Experiment:
This latest claim is based on the new research put out by scientists from Lund University in Sweden that is supposed to support the claim that the Pfizer mRNA-based vaccine will insert itself into the DNA of human cells (Markus Aldén, et al., Jan. 18, 2022).
One small problem here is that this research isn’t relevant to real life when it comes to the actual risk of the mRNA vaccines turning themselves into DNA and then integrating themselves into the human genome. That simply isn’t a valid concern for several rather obvious reasons.
What really happened:
First off, you have to understand how this research was done. The researchers took hepatic cancer cells (the immortal Huh-7 cancer cell line), not normal human cells, and exposed these highly atypical mutated cells to large amounts of Pfizer’s mRNA vaccine in vitro. Then, they detected that the mRNA sequences had been decoded and that spike proteins were being produced by the cancer cells – as expected. No surprise here. Then, they demonstrated that some DNA copies had been made of the mRNA via the reverse transcriptase in the cancer cells – knowing that cancer cells often produced increased quantities of reverse transcriptase. That’s it. That’s all that they demonstrated. To be clear, no evidence was found that the DNA that was reverse transcribed from the mRNA actually integrated itself into the cells genomic DNA. That’s right. The authors of this study point out that their study does not show that the Pfizer vaccine integrates with the liver cell DNA, or alters it in any way.
At this stage, we do not know if DNA reverse transcribed from BNT162b2 is integrated into the cell genome. (Markus Aldén, et al., Jan. 18, 2022)
So, how then is this relevant to real life? – to any kind of real risk for the mRNA vaccines? I’m not making this up. What the authors did was to deliberately set up an experiment with a highly mutated cancer cell line (Huh7 cells) that they knew, ahead of time, would produce an outcome that doesn’t reflect what happens in real life with normal human tissues and does not end up altering the DNA of the cell line used in any way. These scientists chose to use these Huh7 cells because, like many cancerous cells, they express (produce) the LINE-1 enzyme. LINE-1 is a reverse transcriptase that converts mRNA into DNA, so it is not surprising that the study would show that mRNA from the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is converted into DNA by the LINE-1 enzyme.
“Huh-7 is an immortal cell line composed of epithelial-like, tumorigenic cells. The majority of Huh-7 cells show a chromosome number between 55 and 63 (mode 60) and are highly heterogeneous… The cell model that we used in this study is a carcinoma cell line, with active DNA replication which differs from non-dividing somatic cells.” (Link)
Again, note that “Huh7 cells” specifically show “changes in gene expression of long interspersed nuclear element-1 (LINE-1)” – which is an endogenous reverse transcriptase. LINE-1 retrotransposons are necessarily active during embryogenesis are aberrantly active in tumorigenesis. cancer cell genomes substantially overexpress L1 (Link). L1 expression is directly related to the cell’s DNA damage response (Link). And, L1 levels are even being proposed as a biomarker to cancer screening (Link). Normal human cells have the LINE-1 gene, but it is not expressed. Regular human cells do not produce the LINE-1 enzyme, which is why they could not use regular human cells in this study to produce the desired reverse transcription effect.
This is why these authors used these particular hepatic tumor cells. However, that is not enough, as reverse transcriptase does not integrate the DNA strands thus produced into the DNA of the actual cell. A second enzyme is needed – an integrase. Integrases insert the double-stranded DNA produced by reverse transcriptase into the host’s chromosomal DNA. And, this particular step was not demonstrated in this study since the required integrase enzyme wasn’t shown to be produced by these hepatic cancer cells (since integrase is produced by retroviruses, not human cells). Without the integrase enzyme, the DNA transcribed by the LINE-1 enzyme will only float outside, and will never integrate with the DNA inside the cell nucleus.
This is why Traude Beilharz, an associate professor and RNA biologist at Monash University, noted that “the level of evidence [that this Swedish study provides] for reverse-transcription is low, while the evidence for genome integration is non-existent”. She went on to point out that if the vaccine had triggered the retrotransposition process “then the other ~10,000 mRNAs within the cell should be ending up in the genome too”. “But that simply doesn’t happen,” she added, explaining that human cells have “myriad mechanisms” to prevent this problem and that there were “many experimental tests available to researchers to detect even vanishingly rare retrotransposition events”. (Link)
Archa Fox, an associate professor at the University of Western Australia’s School of Molecular Sciences, also pointed out that, “The fact that something is found in DNA format is neither here nor there … without proving that it was integrated into the genome.” (Link)
Not a significant risk for actual human beings:
Clearly, then, what the authors of this paper did not demonstrate is that there is a real risk of any kind for actual humans in real life. In short, there is no significant risk of getting the mRNA vaccines to alter the human genome – given that the mRNA vaccines are injected into the deltoid muscle and locally taken up by these muscle cells, not cancer cells. These muscle cells, unlike the hepatocellular cancer cells, have no significant levels of reverse transcriptase or integrase production.
This is basically the same thing as with the other claims of genetic manipulations by mRNA vaccines. Such concerns simply aren’t based on the weight of reasonable scientific evidence, which is abundant (see also: Rhys Parry, et al., August 3, 2021).
Beyond this, ask yourself this question: How is the mRNA vaccine going to be more risky here than getting a live COVID-19 infection that spreads throughout your entire body? If there is any risk of viral genetics entering and altering your genome, then you’d be at far higher risk from an actual mRNA-based COVID-19 infection that affects your entire body than from an mRNA injection that codes for only a tiny modified piece of the virus, the spike protein alone, that is almost entirely limited to a small region in the deltoid muscle of your arm.
Higher risk with natural infection by COVID-19:
On the other hand, it does seem to be true that cells infected by live SARS-CoV-2 viruses do show enhancement of expression of retrotransposons:
In our study, we analyzed publicly available transcriptome data of human cells infected with coronavirus MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV, and SARS-CoV-2, and observed enhanced expression of TEs including several retrotransposons, as well as inflammation, immunity, and apoptosis related genes. We further noticed potential fusion of SARS-CoV-2 RNA with retrotransposon transcripts especially LINEs and SINEs… One of the major mechanisms for LINE-1 silencing is DNA methylation, and we examined expression of genes encoding DNA methyltransferases (DNMTs) and Ten-eleven translocation (TET) enzymes mediating active DNA demethylation. We observed that Tet genes were generally upregulated after coronavirus infection (Figure 2D), and upregulated DNA demethylation activity may lead to demethylation of retrotransposon promoters. This result supports that increased retrotransposon expression was caused by genome-wide DNA demethylation. We obtained similar results in MERS-CoV/SARS-CoV infected MRC5 cells which are noncancerous human lung fibroblast cells (Figures 2A–D)… SARS-CoV-2 infection also causes upregulation of TET gene expression (Figure 2D). Similarly, SARS-CoV-2 was identified to have the capability of infecting human intestinal organoids (Figure 2E) and increased retrotransposon expression can also be observed post infection in a time-dependent manner (Figure 2F)…
Coronaviruses are RNA viruses and are not supposed to integrate into host genome by themselves. However, it was reported that several RNA viruses have capacity to recombine with retrotransposons to invade host genome (Geuking et al., 2009)… This demonstrates high efficiency of LINE family especially LINE-1 in forming chimeric transcript with SARS-CoV-2 RNA. LINE-1 is autonomous retrotransposon with retrotransposition activity, and RNA-RNA ligation mediated by endogenous RNA ligase RtcB was previously reported for LINE-1 to carry other types of RNA for host genomic invasion (Moldovan et al., 2019), so similar mechanisms may apply for SARS-CoV-2 transcripts. Further examination of human genome from SARS-CoV-2 infected human cells or biopsies will be particularly important to identity existence of integration of coronavirus RNA into human genome. (Li-quan Zhou, et al., February 2021)
So, if anything, infection by live SARS-CoV-2 viruses puts a person at higher risk of cellular genetic modification compared to the mRNA vaccines. This only adds to the reasons to get vaccinated against COVID-19 rather than to gain “natural immunity” the hard way – i.e., via a live SARS-CoV-2 infection. Yet again, the risks are simply far higher here for the natural infection vs. vaccination.
Additional good commentaries on this Swedish study:
See also the interesting commentary about this by David H. Gorski, MD, PhD (February 28, 2022)
Dr. Zubin Damania: