Monday, December 29, 2008

New Anthrax Letters Information

from Dr. Meryl Nass's

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

New details from the genomic forensic analysis

Dr. Jacques Ravel of U Maryland, formerly of the Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR), spoke at the MIT faculty club on December 16, 2008 to discuss the scientific evaluation of the anthrax letters' spores.

I requested but did not receive an invitation to the event (despite my Bachelor's degree in Biology from MIT and some expertise in the subject). The slides were shared with me later, but each is labeled "do not distribute."

So I will not share them. They should be posted soon on an MIT website associated with the program that brought Ravel to MIT.

Of interest, the morphologic variations in spore colonies were not entirely identical between the NY Post and Leahy letters. Slide 16 indicates that 5 variations were found in Leahy's anthrax, and (only) 3 of those 5 variations were found in the Post anthrax. No other samples had these 3 variations but some (of greater than 1,100 samples screened) had 1 or 2.

There were no genetic polymorphisms between the 2 samples or a wild-type Ames.

Also of interest, Professor Ravel pays a lot of attention to the criminal-legal aspects of the case and the rules of evidence for trial.

An early article on the genomic studies in the Times is worth a read for comparison.


Anonymous said...

So, the inoculant for production of the material that was used in the attacks didn't come directly from Ivin's flask, now did it?

Damn inconvenient truths!

Hint to the F.B.I.: "Passages" is more than just the title of a self help book from the early 80s.

Meryl Nass, M.D. said...

It is impossible for me to comprehend why or how the FBI can continue to disseminate information that turns out to be dead wrong, once the facts are known or someone carefully parses their claims.

To make a big deal about 4 morphologic findings that were present in the anthrax letters--and then to learn one sample had 3 and the other 5, MEANING THEY WERE NOT IDENTICAL--defies understanding.

IS FBI simply practicing its own version of Hitler's Big Lie? As paraphrased by the OSS: "People will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it."

The case still isn't closed. I'll wager it doesn't close for a very long time. Simplest way to keep the rest of the evidence hidden.

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