AZT is what we call a chain terminator of DNA synthesis developed 30 years ago for one purpose only - to kill human cancer cells (Horwitz, 1964; Cohen, 1987; Yarchoan and Broder, 1987a; Yarchoan, et al., 1991). That means that cells that are busily making DNA, that is, rapidly dividing cells, are most likely to be killed by AZT (Cretton, et al., 1991; Chernov, 1986; Elwell, et al., 1987; Yarchoan and Broder, 1987b; Smothers, 1991; Yarchoan, et al., 1991).
Thus, if you believe in toxic chemotherapy, there is a rationality to using chemicals like AZT for treating cancer. Cancer cells are among the most persistently growing cells in the body, once acclimated. By giving a cancer patient toxic chemicals, there is a chance that killing everything that's growing for a while may kill the cancer before the patient is killed.
But here we are applying AZT and other toxic chemicals to people where roughly one in a thousand cells at the most is infected by HIV. Since AZT cannot tell an infected from an uninfected cell, for every infected cell that AZT is going to kill in the body, it will have to kill 999 uninfected cells. That is what you call a very unfavorable kill ratio. That's what is happening with AZT; it is really the equivalent of chasing bunnies with atomic bombs. You kill the bunny, but the forest isn't quite the same when you're finished.
Look at the people who took AZT, ddI, and/or ddC: Arthur Ashe, Rudolph Nureyev, Kimberly Bergalis, Randy Shilts, Elisabeth Glaser (Champkin, 1994), the list goes on... They ended up emaciated with muscle atrophy-in wheelchairs. They looked like they came from Auschwitz. One or two years of AZT is doing exactly that; it's killing the muscle cells, it's killing the bone marrow, it's killing the epithelial cells, and it's killing the gut. All the fast growing cells are going first, so these people need wheelchairs, blood transfusions, and intravenous feedings until they finally die from these chemicals. From a biochemical point of view, all this is extremely predictable because there is no life without DNA,at least none that we have ever heard of.
Outrageous? Yes! Yet, since 1987, AZT has been prescribed as an anti-HIV drug to AIDS patients (Kolata, 1987); Fishl, et al., 1987; Richman, et al., 1987; Yarchoan and Broder, 1987b) and since 1990 to asymptomatic carriers of HIV (Volberding, et al., 1990; Yarchoan, et al., 1991). In two recent cases in San Francisco and Miami, patients diagnosed with AIDS were 'presumed' to be HIV-positive and were treated with AZT. Follow-up tests showed that both were HIV-negative and malpractice suits have since been filed (Oakland Tribune, December 1, 1992; New York Native, p. 10-11, Dec. 14, 1992; Miami Herald, Sept., 1994; The Daily Business Review, Nov. 18, 1994, p. A14).
In 1993, about 200,000 HIV-positive individuals world wide received AZT (which is produced by Burroughs Wellcome, the company that also produces nitrite inhalants1 for the treatment of angina). AZT is the most toxic drug that has ever been licensed for long-term consumption (Kolata, 1987, 1992). About 75% of all users are Americans. The consumption of AZT by HIV-positive individuals will, over time, destroy their immune system and produce AIDS. This is even acknowledged by Burroughs Wellcome, the producer of AZT in the Physicians' Desk Reference: "It was often difficult to distinguish adverse effects possibly associated with Zidovudine [AZT] administration from underlying signs of HIV disease..."
Administration of AZT to HIV-positive individuals will definitely fulfill the prophecy of the HIV/AIDS hypothesis: HIV-positive individuals who get AZT will get AIDS. The AIDS epidemic will continue as long as we continue to prescribe AZT or similar drugs such as ddC, ddI, and hydroxyurea for asymptomatic HIV-positive individuals.
Here's how it works: DNA is a long string composed of four building blocks. (In the following diagram, we represent these four building blocks as purple, green, red, blue-hope it's not going too fast for you-hey, that rhymes.) Thymidine is one of these four building blocks (and is represented in the diagram as the green rungs). AZT is an analog of thymidine, that is, its chemical structure is almost identical to that of thymidine.
normal DNA synthesisDNA synthesis terminated by AZT
All the normal building blocks of DNA have two arms: a right arm and a left arm-or an upper and lower rung in this case. With AZT (as well as ddC and ddI), there is no left arm (AZT is represented in the diagram as the upper section of the DNA on the right with a missing green rung.) In the cell, AZT looks like thymidine to the enzymes that line up thymidine to it ready for assembly into more DNA, and to the enzymes which finally assemble it into DNA. But because it has a missing rung (missing left arm), it cannot be joined to additional building blocks of DNA.
When AZT is incorporated into the DNA instead of thymidine, AZT ends the DNA chain prematurely and the cell dies. Or, in rare cases, the cell mutates and you could get cancer. Those are the two options. That's all AZT can do and proponents of AZT always talk about side-effects. There are no side-effects. This drug has clearly no side-effects. All it ever does is kill cells or occasionally make a cell become cancerous.
As a scientist you can order AZT for research from biochemical companies like Sigma, in St. Louis. Normally, when they send AZT it comes in small bottles containing 25 milligrams which is 1/20th of the dose that is given to anybody who is antibody positive in this country -- every single day... To laboratory researchers, Sigma sends a bottle of AZT with a
skull-and-cross-bones on it with instructions not to ingest it or get in contact with it or get splashed with it! This skull-and-cross-bones warning is accorded only to substances with the highest level of toxicity.
When Burroughs wellcome advertises a bottle of AZT you will see a nice girl or boy on a mountain bike drinking Perrier and there's a caption on the picture "Putting time on your side". When scientists buy one-twentieth (1/20th) of the daily prescription dose of 500 milligrams they get a warning with a skull-and-cross-bones. But Sigma Biochemicals, which is recognized as the leading manufacturer of biochemicals in the world, seems to have the idea that AZT may not put all that much time on your side after all.
A rational antiviral therapy depends on proof that the targeted virus is the cause of the disease to be treated and that toxicity for the virus outweighs that for the host cell. Such proof cannot be supplied for AZT for the following reasons:
(1)There is no proof that HIV causes AIDS
(2)There is so much cellularDNA and such a minute amount of viral DNA or RNA in the body, that it is obvious that cell DNA would be the primary target of AZT.
(3)For every infected white blood cell, there are 1000 uninfected white blood cells. Unless AZT could tell the difference between infected and uninfected cells, it would have to kill about 1000 white blood cells in AIDS patients and in asymptomatic HIV carriers to kill just 1 infected cell -- a very high toxicity index, even if HIV were the cause of AIDS.
(4)Since many healthy persons with antibodies against HIV have just as many if not more infected T-cells than AIDS patients, there is no rational justification for inhibiting HIV
with AZT in asymptomatic individuals to prevent or lessen the severity of AIDS
It follows that there is no rational basis for AZT therapy or prophylaxis for AIDS.
If AZT is so toxic, why is it used at such high concentrations?
Orthodox AIDS theories are made up almost entirely by retrovirologists. They know possibly everything about retroviruses, at least enough to make people believe that HIV is causing AIDS. All They were thinking about when they were looking for an anti-AIDS drug was, "How could we inhibit HIV?"
Retrovirologists focused on reverse transcriptase, the enzyme responsible for the replication of retroviruses. They felt that by inhibiting it, they could stop the replication of HIV.
Therefore, retrovirologists from the National Cancer Institute and the manufacturer of AZT, Burroughs-Wellcome, did a very short term experiment; in 1986, they tried to block HIV replication in human T-cells with AZT. They observed the AZT-treated cells for a couple of days. Sure enough there was no HIV. The T-cells were still floating around. They didn't measure to see if the T-cells were still alive, but they were floating around, They said, "Oh, what a great toxicity index. The viruses are being killed. The cells are still hanging in there."
When asked about AZT at the Presidential AIDS Commission, Samuel Broder, Director of the national Cancer Institute testified in 1988 as follows:
"The development of AZT represented an emergency collaboration between the Wellcome Research Laboratories and the National Cancer Institute, in which a conscious decision was made to pull out all the stops and at least deliver one product to prove the point that AIDS is treatable... the ultimate value of AZT is not that it is a perfect drug, but that it points the way. It has toxicities, and it is a drug which, perhaps, we could abandon some day. But it has silenced, in my point of view, those people who said, 'Retroviruses are, inherently, untreatable, so why bother?'"
Subsequent studies have shown that AZT is 1000 times more toxic than originally predicted. Toxic concentrations of AZT are not in the millimolar range as the original studies suggested (Furman, et al., 1986), but in the micromolar3 range (Avramis, et al., 1989; Balzarini, et al., 1989; Ho and Hitchcock, 1989; Mansuri, et al., 1990; Hitchcock, 1991). If you consider a patient who is 165 pounds (which equals 75 kilograms or 75 liters), the prescribed doses of 500 to 1500 milligrams would make them 20 micromolar to 60 micromolar AZT. This is toxic for T-cells. The initial error was that they originally though the toxic level was in the millimolar range and they thought that with a dose of 500 to 1500 milligrams, they were below it and would just hit the virus.
Unfortunately, the prescription and the Physician's Desk Reference Book is still based entirely on the initial study which says millimolar rather than micromolar concentrations of AZT are toxic. On that basis or on some other equally unjustifiable basis, the patient still gets about 500 to 1500 milligrams of AZT each day. That's been going since 1987!
As a result of this overdose, the following AZT-specific diseases have been recorded in AIDS patients, in AIDS-free persons, and in animals treated with AZT, based on studies described below and reviewed elsewhere:
(Smothers, 1991; McLeod and Hammer, 1992); PDR, Medical Economics Data, 1992):
*anemia (depressed red blood cell levels) and leukopenia (depressed white blood cell levels) in 20-100%, with 30-57% requiring transfusions within several weeks (Gill, et al., 1987; Richman, et al., 1987; Dournon, et al., 1988; Walker, et al., 1988; Mir, N. and C. Costello, 1988; Swanson, et al., 1990; Van Leeuwen, et al., 1990; Smothers, 1991; Hamilton, et al., 1992)
*severe nausea from intestinal intoxication in up to 45% (Richman, et al., 1987; Volberding, et al., 1990; Smothers, 1991)
*muscle atrophy and polymyositis (muscle inflammation), due to inhibition of mitochondrial DNA synthesis in 6-8% (Richman, et at., 1987; Bessen, et al., 1988; Gorard and Guilodd, 1988; Helbert, et al., 1988; Dalakas, et al., 1990; Till and MacDonnell, 1990; Yarchoan, et al., 1991; Hitchcock, 1991)
*lymphomas in about 9% within 1 year on AZT
*acute (non viral) hepatitis (Dubin and Braffman, 1989; Smothers, 1991; Freiman, J.P., et al., 1993)
*neurological diseases including insomnia, headaches, dementia, mania, Wernicke's encephalopathy, ataxia, and seizures (Smothers, 1991), probably due to inhibition of mitochondrial DNA (Hitchcock,1991)
*12 out of 12 men reported impotence after 1 year on AZT (Callen, 1990)
*cancer in mice, causing vaginal squamous carcinomas (Cohen, 1987; Yarchoan and Broder, 1987a; Chernov, 1986)
Thus, AZT proves to be a serious health threat causing potentially fatal diseases, such as anemia, leukopenia, and muscle atrophy, yet, despite its predictable toxicity, AZT is though to have serendipitous (unintended haphazard) therapeutic and prophylactic benefits (Volberding, et al., 1990)
Part 2: AZT Clinical Trials
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