This is one hell of a book! Which of these plots might make an exciting movie of the week?1) Deep in Central Asia, in the late 1980’s, towards the end of the Cold War, sequestered in a secret Soviet compound for military scientists, a group of microbiologists invent a super bio-weapon: a genetically-modified bacteria which could inflict mass populations with a form of Multiple Sclerosis…2) On the eve of the first Gulf War, top Pentagon officials learn that Saddam Hussein may have a deployable form of deadly anthrax. To make matters worse, they learn there is a shortage of anthrax vaccine for the troops. Amidst the scramble to avert a catastrophe, a little-known Army research facility steps forward and offers a risky solution…3) Normally, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) holds drug testing on human subjects to highest ethical standards. In a singularly shocking instance, however, the FDA is convinced to abandon its principles. It allows an experiment to proceed on thousands of unsuspecting and unconsenting American servicemen. When a new and unexplained autoimmune disease breaks out, it seems to be related to the anthrax vaccine. Anxious troops begin refusing the vaccine, even on penalty of losing their careers and benefits. A former Army Surgeon General is called in to allay their fears. Unfortunately everything he tells them contradicts published medical facts. Who is right, the General or the scientists, and who wrote the General’s speech? Reporter Gary Matsumoto tries to uncover the story, and makes some powerful enemies in the process…4) In the mid-90’s, thousands of Gulf War veterans are reporting a new illness: a diffuse syndrome of joint pain, visual disturbances, muscle weakness, seizures, and even paralysis. At first, it’s attributed to stress, but a lone Immunologist, Dr Pam Asa, has another theory. Working out of her laboratory at Tulane University, she documents unusual, yet irrefutable parallels between Gulf War Syndrome and Lupus. Instead of welcoming her breakthrough achievements, the medical establishment attacks her… led by a scientist at the head of the Army’s vaccine development program. 5) In the mid-1980’s, Carl Alving was a rising star in the exploding field of molecular biology. His work in the field of immunology focused on “adjuvants”- a quirky family of additives which can dramatically magnify the effectiveness of vaccines. When an Army laboratory comes out with a new adjuvant called "MF59", Alving is vociferously against it. This substance is deadly dangerous, he repeatedly states for the record… until one day, he is mysteriously awarded the patent for MF59. Suddenly Alving becomes the additive’s #1 fan…Those are all pretty good plotlines, aren't they? Well you guessed it: they are all in this book, and they are all true! Journalist Gary Matsumoto (of Bloomberg, NBC Radio, and CNN fame) completely blew me away with Vaccine A. There is more drama and intrigue here than most James Bond films. The difference is, Matsumoto backs up everything he says with documentation. There are over fifty pages of dense notes and references to show this real-life drama actually played out the way he says.So it’s a good story. You know what else? It’s an illuminating examination of the history of vaccines, and how new molecular technologies have completely transformed vaccine design. In the golden era of vaccines, from Jenner in 1796 to Salk in 1955, vaccines were a heterogeneous mix of antibodies, cell membranes, and signal molecules designed to stimulate the immune system. But that all changed in 1983, when UC Berkeley professor Kerry Mullis invented something called Polymerase Chain Reaction. Overnight, it became economical to make vatloads of a single molecule. Accordingly, pharmaceutical companies started developing new high-purity single-molecule vaccines, instead of the old heterogeneous cocktails. The problem is, the single-molecule preparations aren’t very effective. Traditional vaccines sensitize the immune system to a much broader range of antigens. To boost effectiveness of new vaccines (and thus preserve profits), pharmaceutical companies put money into researching “adjuvants” -substances that prime the immune system, like kicking a hornet’s nest- making it more sensitive to a vaccine.This is the story of SQUALENE -an experimental adjuvant more powerful than any of its predecessors. The only problem with squalene is that it is an oil whose molecular structure is just a little bit too much like phospholipids which naturally occur in the body. When the immune system becomes irritated (and thus stimulated) by squalene, it mistakenly also begins to attack its own natural phospholipids. This mechanism is very similar to what occurs in the disease Lupus. You can figure out the rest of the story from the plot points I listed above: In the first Gulf War, the Army secretly experimented on its own troops, adding different amounts of squalene to its otherwise-ineffective anthrax vaccine. The resulting “Gulf War Syndrome” affected thousands of servicemen and women with symptoms ranging from mild arthritis to blindness, paraplegia and even death. Gary Matsumoto reveals numerous instances where the government denied the existence of the squalene experiments, told servicemen their ailment was “all in their heads”, even accused them of faking symptoms just to get cash in lawsuits!This book will inform you, and make you mad as hell. Matsumoto’s writing is masterful; he explains difficult subjects in a way any layperson can easily understand, and he develops several parallel plot lines, which come together in a very satisfying way. Get it today!