Author Archives: Matthias Wabl

DNA Origamis to the Rescue in Lupus Research

A tantalizing question in lupus research has been how anti-dsDNA antibodies bind DNA, and whether there are physiological mimetopes by which B cells expressing these antibodies might be selected. Because no crystals could be generated, there is no available X-ray structure of anti-dsDNA antibodies or Fab fragments bound to DNA. With cryo-electron microscopy, we now [...]

Ecotropic virus in mice that are modifiers of autoimmunity

The fairly recent realization that endogenous elements play an important role in the immune system has revived a great interest in them. We now know that endogenous retroelements are adjuvants in the immune response to T cell-independent type 2 antigens; and retroelements are implicated in monogenic and polygenic (“spontaneous”) autoimmune disease.

Proof, Facts, and Alternative Medicine

Philosophers of science are a bit like Catholic priests as marriage counselors: They entertain ideas that are different from those of the practitioners. The foolhardy assumption that a hypothesis cannot be proved, but only disproved, is irrelevant to the workings of modern science, which is based on experiments. (In fact, strictly speaking, a hypothesis can [...]

How inflammation leads to multiple myeloma

In mice, mineral oil causes inflammation, which leads to a lupus-like condition and to the formation of plasma cell tumors. It has long been known that chromosomal translocations (breakage of two chromosomes and rejoining the wrong ends between them) drive tumor formation and progression. But clearly, this is not enough for full-blown tumors, and it [...]

It seems that lupus and HIV avoid each other. Why is that?

There is only anecdotal and retrospective evidence for it, but it seems that HIV and lupus avoid each other. One might think, no wonder: HIV patients are immune-deficient and thus may be autoimmune-deficient, too. However, there ought to be patients who suffered from lupus before they were infected with HIV. Clinician-scientists tell me that of [...]

“How to Understand a Friend” — almost a decade later

The following letter was written at the height of the intense discussion about intelligent design versus Darwinism. It was in response to an editorial by Cardinal Schönborn, the lead editor of the official 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church, in the New York Times of July 7, 2005. It was not sent for personal reasons. [...]

Hybridoma history, as written by the journal Nature

If journalism is “the first rough draft of history” (Philip Graham), then we might be doomed, at least in a small way. An editorial referring to—and advertising—the Nature PastCast makes the point, “If those who do not learn from the past are truly doomed to repeat the same mistakes, then Nature has done its bit [...]

The Bureaucratization of Science

“Science has always been bad” – Charles Steinberg In November of 1895, when following up on a radiation experiment “that needed further investigation,” the fifty-year old Wilhelm Röntgen saw the bones of his fingers on a fluorescent screen. Worried about his sanity, he locked himself in his lab for two weeks to understand what was [...]

“The opposite of a fact is falsehood, but the opposite of one profound truth may very well be another profound truth.” — Niels Bohr

As scientists, we believe in cause and effect. If this is so, then everything is predetermined, at least at the macroscopic level. This would also mean that we are just molecular machines that have no responsibilities because we have no free will. In society, we would regard a person with such a radical view as [...]

Clinical trial initiated, based on an experiment performed in the Wabl lab

In May 2014, a clinical trial of reverse-transcriptase inhibitors in Aicardi-Goutières syndrome (AGS) is scheduled to start at the Necker Hospital in Paris. The orphan disease AGS is a Mendelian inflammatory disorder of the brain and skin. It is a clinical and radiological mimic of congenital infection, and it is associated with increased levels of [...]