Cell Cultures and the “No Virus” Theory

Op-Ed by Julie Beal

Stefan Lanka and his followers have misled the anti-covidian movement in the most outrageous way. They’ve made people believe things that just aren’t true, and insist that no further thought is required. Since viruses don’t exist, they say, further research is not necessary and anyone who tries to say otherwise should be shouted down as soon as they open their mouths. The only thing you’re allowed to do is to contact virologists and ask for proof they don’t have, so they’re sending people on a wild goose-chase.

Stefan Lanka has been promoting his theory since 1998, and his primary teaching (‘Demand evidence of isolation!’) has become so popular since the ronascam began, you can now buy a T-shirt that says, ‘Show me your proof!’. Lanka’s theory is based on a deep misunderstanding of cell cultures, virology and genetics, but his followers find him so convincing, they’re willing to spread his gospel as if they know it to be true. It’s common to hear them read out a list of the disgusting things virologists use, such as monkey kidneys, pause for dramatic effect, look horrified, then continue on as if they’ve just proved their point.

According to Lanka, the study of viruses is a kind of make-believe based on the use of cell/tissue cultures:

Virologists primarily believe in the existence of viruses, because they add allegedly ‘infected’ blood, saliva or other body fluids to the tissue and cell culture, and this, it must be stressed, after having withdrawn the nutrients from the respective cell culture and after having started poisoning it with toxic antibiotics. They believe that the cell culture is then killed by viruses. The key insight, however, is that the death of the tissue and cells takes place in the exact same manner when no ‘infected’ genetic material is added at all. The virologists have apparently not noticed this fact!”

Sadly, the no-virus theorists have ‘apparently not noticed’ that virologists provide images of uninfected cells[i] when they do control experiments, and these images show the cells remain healthy, with no viral particles coming out of them. Worse still, they haven’t bothered to do the most basic research into cell cultures to find out for themselves if Lanka’s theory is correct. If they had, they’d know that cell cultures are used for all sorts of things and they’re all treated in the same, standardized way[ii] (with slight variations, depending on the tissue type) to keep the cells healthy. “The experimental applications of cultured cells are as diverse as the cell types that can be grown in vitro.

These facts alone are enough to refute the theory entirely, but there’s a whole lot more! For instance, it’s claimed that cells are releasing either exosomes or particles of decay, but this cannot be true because they are unable to replicate. It’s possible to isolate exosomes and other cellular stuff from a sample by purifying it, but they can’t be made to replicate in a cell culture. Only viruses multiply from one culture to the next.

Ever since plant and animal viruses were identified in the early 1900s, scientists have been trying to find viruses in human beings. The only way they’re able to do this, apparently[iii], is to put samples from humans into a cell or tissue culture to see if anything grows in it. If it does, they take a sample from the culture and add it to another culture to see if the same things grow. If they do, and they seem the same as the first ones, they’re said to be viruses because they’ve been shown to be capable of replication. In other words, when the particles are placed into a healthy, well-fed cell culture, they are able to multiply by creating copies of themselves. Allowing the particles to replicate increases the amount of viruses available, and these can then be filtered to concentrate them, and purified further using centrifugation, as described in previous articles.

Cell cultures are not just for viruses!

Use of cell or tissue cultures is defined as, “the practice of growing living cells outside the body in the laboratory”.

Given appropriate surroundings, most plant and animal cells can live, multiply, and even express differentiated properties in a tissue-culture dish. The cells can be watched continuously under the microscope or analyzed biochemically, and the effects of adding or removing specific molecules, such as hormones or growth factors, can be explored.”

The way the biotech industry sees it,

Mammalian cell culture is an important tool for research, clinical, and pharmaceutical applications. Cells isolated from animal tissues can be expanded in culture to study cell biology and disease or used for the production of antibodies, proteins, and vaccines. Immortalized mammalian cell lines can be grown in vitro for prolonged periods and are commonly used as simple models for complex biology.”

Cell cultures are used for experiments in cellular and molecular biology, to study the physiology and biochemistry of cells, for drug screening and development, and for large scale production of biological compounds (e.g. vaccines and proteins). They’re said to provide consistent and reproducible results because all the cells are clones of the original.

Use of cell cultures is so widespread, there are protocols for maintaining them, such as the temperature they’re kept at, and the food they’re given. These protocols demonstrate that virologists treat their cells the same as everyone else, and they’re not frauds and tricksters, as claimed by the no-virus theorists. For example, a paper by Lechanteur et al (‘Elucidation of the impact of cell culture conditions of Caco-2 cell monolayer on barrier integrity and intestinal permeability’, 2017), describes how Caco-2 cells from a cancerous human colon are used to test the way drugs are absorbed in humans (they’re supposed to help model the human intestine!). The researchers wanted to test these cells against a similar cell culture to see how culture conditions affected the permeability of the cells. So they were looking at things like pore size and pore density and they grew the cells to confluence over 21 days using the same ingredients virologists use, i.e. the cells were grown, “in a complete medium, consisting of DMEM supplemented with 10% (v/v) inactivated FBS, 1% (v/v) l-glutamine, 1% (v/v) non-essential amino acids and 1% (v/v) antibiotic–antimitotic mixture (final concentration of 100 U/ml Penicillin and 100 U/ml Streptomycin).” This study is about keeping cells healthy, and it includes images of the cells which show they are not dying and there are no viruses coming out of any of them.

Virologists working with cell cultures use the same culture media described above, and at the same concentrations, e.g. to isolate the SARS-CoV-2 virus, “Vero cells were propagated in DMEM medium supplemented with GlutaMAX, sodium pyruvate, 10% heat-inactivated FBS, 100 U ml−1 of penicillin, 100 μg ml−1 of streptomycin and 25 ng ml−1 of amphotericin B.”

Lanka and his followers claim these ingredients are toxins that poison the cells but they clearly don’t – not even the antibiotics. Virologists regularly demonstrate this by performing control experiments with cell cultures that have no patient sample added to them, and they can be seen to remain healthy.

Monkey cells and unnatural additions are symbolic of how disgusting and unnatural the biotech industry is, but the cells show no sign of being poisoned. According to those in the industry,

Use of antibiotics in cell culture minimizes the loss of valuable cells, reagents, time and efforts due to contamination. … Experienced researchers recommend cell culture-tested antibiotics, at adequate concentrations, be used while culturing cells. This practice preserves your cells by preventing contamination that induces morphological or physiological changes.”

The history of cell cultures

The ability to keep cells alive in the lab forms the foundation of the biotech industry. Tissue culture began with Ross Harrison’s studies of nerve cell cultures in 1907. He took some tissue from a frog embryo and managed to keep it alive in a petri dish for several weeks. This made the life of cells visible for the first time. A few years later, Burrows and Carrel, working at the Rockefeller Institute, established cell cultures made from various body tissues (e.g. cartilage, bone marrow, skin, kidneys and thyroid gland) taken from a number of different species, including humans, dogs, cats, chickens, guinea pigs and rats. They experimented with different ways of feeding the cells to keep them alive, and found they could keep producing new batches from the original bunch of cells, due to the fact that healthy cells keep dividing (and therefore doubling). Each fresh batch of cells is called a subculture, and in this way, one lot of cells can be kept going for several months. The fact that cell lines can be kept going for so long is another fact that shows virologists are not fabricating viruses by poisoning cells!

Burrows and Carrel published their results in 1910, and produced the first cell line in 1912, using cells from the heart of a chicken embryo. In 1948, Earle established the L929 cell line, derived from mouse connective tissue, and then in 1951, Gay established the HeLa cell line by using cells from Henrietta Lack’s cancerous cervix.[iv]

Stefan Lanka has somehow managed to make people believe that virologists never perform control experiments, and says this is how they ‘get away’ with their alleged fraud. He directs people to study a 1954 paper by Enders which does have a control experiment although he has apparently not noticed this fact, and he ignores a speech given in the same year by Enders and colleagues when collecting the Nobel prize, in which they describe how viruses caused a cytopathic effect in cell cultures that were not seen in uninfected cultures. Adding poliovirus led to a decrease in metabolism and “widespread cellular degeneration”, whereas “uninoculated tissues maintained under the same conditions were found to contain many cells in apparently excellent condition.”

In fact, being able to keep the cells healthy also allowed them to propagate “the slow-growing mumps virus”. Tissues remained healthy when they replenished the nutrients at regular intervals. “In this way viability of the cells could be maintained for 30 days or longer and full opportunity allowed for viral growth to occur…”

Contaminants – DNA, microbes and proteins

People who support the no-virus theory claim that virologists are working with a mish-mash of contaminated cells. For example, Cowan and Fallon Morrell say that Chan et. al. injected animals with, “unpurified, lung-cancer-grown, centrifuged snot”, when in fact they used purified, monkey-cell grown viruses which were created by isolating and replicating some particles from a nasal swab. Disgusting, yes. Worrisome, but why?

Cell cultures are also used to test pharmaceuticals and study cell metabolism, etc., even though they’re almost nothing like the human body. They’re highly unnatural and artificial but instead of analysing why this is the case, the no-virus theorists say stuff that’s just not true. For instance, Cowan and Fallon Morrell say Koch injected animals with stuff containing methylene blue and potassium hydroxide (lye) when he didn’t – they were used to stain the tissue so he could see them with a microscope.

There’s no discussion about cell culture technology, no depth of information, no specific details given to help us assess their claims. So we have to wonder, how do the no-virus theorists know what happens to cell cultures? What information do they have access to when they make claims about them? Take, for instance, Lanka’s claim that using cell cultures creates, “a toxic mixture full of foreign proteins, foreign nucleic acids (DNA/RNA), cytotoxic antibiotics, microbes and spores of all types”, which is then, “labelled as a “live vaccine”.” How did he come to this conclusion? What does he mean by spores? What kind of microbes are in there, and what effect could they have? The only way to find out is by reference to experimental evidence, including genetic sequencing, which the no-virus theorists reject.

We can also refer to the information leaflet that comes with modern vaccines, many of which admit they may contain traces of DNA and foreign proteins. This is a real concern because it’s known that cell cultures, like the ones used for vaccine production, can become contaminated while they are busy growing[v] and producing proteins:

How pervasive is cell contamination? Based on studies by the FDA, ATCC, and others, it is estimated that 5 – 30% of all cell cultures today are contaminated with mycoplasma species alone. Incidence of viral contamination of common cell lines exceeded 25% in one study, and non-cytopathic viruses are even more likely than mycoplasma to escape detection, as culture health may not provide clues to their presence.”

In my opinion, we should also distinguish between modern vaccine production and what it was like in the early to mid-1900s. The first viral vaccines were really rough ‘n’ ready – they often contained viruses that were passaged hundreds of times, and purification and propagation techniques were less sophisticated, so contamination might have been more likely, but they weren’t doing genetic sequencing back then so much less was known. For example, Enders’ 1954 paper about isolating measles identified an unknown agent – what was that? Could it have been SV40?

It’s far too big a topic to discuss here, but the no-virus theorists don’t discuss it at all – they just make false statements about cell cultures and ingredients as if it’s some kind of ‘big reveal’ that proves the cells were poisoned.

Cell Culture Media

Cell cultures are fed a mixture of nutrients, essence of baby cow, antibiotics and antimycotics (to prevent bacteria and fungus growing). Fetal bovine serum (FBS) is a contentious ingredient in the industry because of the way it’s sourced and because it’s hard to be sure what it contains. “FBS is a natural cocktail of most of the factors required for cell attachment, growth, and proliferation, effective for most types of human and animal (including insect) cells.” It’s said to be an ill-characterized blend of about 1,800 proteins and 4,000 metabolites, but the composition varies depending on the condition of the mother, and other geographic and seasonal factors. FBS can also be contaminated with mycoplasma, viruses and prions and this has become a bigger issue for the industry since scientists started expanding their use of tissues and cells to create proteins, exosomes and stem cells for various kinds of therapy. It’s also a problem for people studying the way cancer cells behave – apparently, scientists had only ever used formulations such as DMEM and FBS to keep cells proliferating but, “their composition does not recapitulate the tumor’s nutritional environment” so they’ve come up with other types of culture media that don’t use DMEM, FBS or trypsin (which also comes from animals) and which are more similar to the normal nutritional composition of human cells, and are therefore “more relevant to tumor metabolism”. Small differences in the composition of cell culture media, such as a lack of certain metabolites that are normally present in human fluids, can result in “uncharacterized, yet inevitable consequences on cell metabolism”.

Just to give you some idea of how big the industry is, costs are calculated based on how many millions of cells per litre are produced, and involves identifying, “the best media with a defined output such as cell doubling time, metabolism rates, protein secretion, etc.” Healthy cells keep dividing[vi] and the culture grows to ‘confluence’ over time, but if cells become contaminated, it can affect their growth and behaviour, with various knock-on effects.

Even though virologists use the same culture media as other scientists to try and keep the cells healthy, and even though they often perform control experiments with uninfected cells, Stefan Lanka says the particles coming out of cells are a result of being poisoned to death. However, he gives no details of how he came to this conclusion and seems unaware of the evidence that exists regarding cell death, which suggests he’s not done much research to check the veracity of his claims.

The Death of a Cell Culture

Cell death, as observed in the lab, is a well researched phenomenon, with several funky names to describe what takes place. The two main types of ‘cellular suicide’ are necrosis and apoptosis; there are various sub-types and they each have distinct morphological and biochemical features, such as blebbing of the cell membrane. Examples include autophagy, mitotic catastrophe and senescence (also known as ‘cell zombie’!).

According to Kaminskyy and Zhivotovsky in ‘To kill or be killed: how viruses interact with the cell death machinery’ (2010),

“The range of structural and biochemical (i.e., cytopathic) effects that viruses have on the host cell is extensive. Most viral infections eventually result in the death of the host cell. The causes of death include cell lysis, alterations to the cell’s surface membrane and various modes of programmed cell death. Some viruses cause no apparent changes to the infected cell. Cells in which the virus is latent and inactive show few signs of infection and often function normally. This causes persistent infection and the virus is often dormant for many months or years….. Human organisms use a genetically controlled cell death programme that prevents the spreading of viral infection and kills the virus.”

Clearance of apoptotic cells is a well-regulated process based on complex signaling mechanisms. Senescent or damaged cells undergoing apoptosis are cleared by macrophages and dendritic cells. Different sensing signals (‘find me’ and ‘eat me’) …. are involved in the recognition and processing of apoptotic cells …. Only cells exposing [an] ‘eat me’ signal are engulfed.”

Intricate details relating to the various types of cell death induced by different viruses are provided by Pranav Danthi in Viruses and the Diversity of Cell Death (2016). He introduces the subject by saying,

“Cell death is a common outcome of virus infection. In some cases, cell death curbs virus replication. In others, cell death enhances virus dissemination and contributes to tissue injury, exacerbating viral disease. Three forms of cell death are observed following virus infection—apoptosis, necroptosis, and pyroptosis. …. The Nomenclature Committee on Cell Death has defined a variety of cell death mechanisms based on morphological features and biochemical requirements.”

Danthi goes on to say,

Virtually every stage in virus infection has the potential to alter cellular homeostasis, disrupt cellular processes, or initiate the activation of specific signaling pathways. A consequence of any of these events could be induction of cell death. …. Apoptosis is the most extensively studied cell death mechanism in the context of virus infection. Cells undergoing apoptosis exhibit characteristic features, including condensation of chromatin, fragmentation of DNA, exposure of phosphatidylserine on the plasma membrane, and formation of apoptotic bodies that contain contents of the cell enclosed within a membrane.”

Some viruses, however, are said to encode information that inhibits apoptosis, thus reducing or preventing cell death. These inhibitors are found in poxviruses, herpesviruses and baculoviruses, and they’re said to,

block the extrinsic apoptotic pathway by inhibiting the activity of caspase-8 or by neutralizing death ligands that promote the activation of caspase-8. These viruses also express proteins that block the intrinsic cell death pathway by mimicking host antiapoptotic proteins, such as Bcl-2, or by inactivating the function of proapoptotic Bcl-2 family members, such as Bax.”

This level of detail highlights the serious lack of analysis on behalf of the no-virus theorists. They offer no substantive evidence to support their claims about cell cultures and their explanations about the particles imaged by virologists are demonstrably false because of the evidence from healthy cell cultures, and because dead cells and exosomes can’t be cloned. They do not replicate so they cannot be passaged from one cell culture to the next. In addition, genetic material from cells is highly diverse so it wouldn’t be possible to obtain the same results from a multitude of samples if that was the only thing being sequenced. If the no-virus theory was correct, all cultures used by virologists would yield viral particles, they’d all look the same, and all people/cultures would test positive for all viruses any time they were tested, but this is not the case. Genetic sequencing is shit-hot these days and we’d be wise to use the evidence to our advantage rather than dismiss it because of some vague idea that it’s got ‘something to do with PCR’ because virologists use the same techniques to sequence the genomes of viruses that are used to sequence the genomes of any other biological organism!

All in all, it seems to me, the no-virus theory is a no-good pile of nonsense that’s done immense damage to both the anti-covidian movement and the natural health movement. By insisting there’s ‘nothing there’, proponents of the theory have steered people away from scientific evidence, and instead sent them shopping for sky-hooks.


[i] Here are some images of cells from people’s noses (not from a cell culture!) – Figure A shows nasal cells from someone who tested negative for SARS-CoV-2; Figures B, C and D are images of nasal cells taken from a person who tested positive.

[ii] In order to isolate nuclei from plant cells, various parts of the plant can be used, such as embryos, leaf tissues or the seed coat. “Most of the isolation methods use the same steps of the procedure, including tissue disruption, filtration, centrifugation, solubilisation of membranes of contaminating organelles with non-ionic detergents, and separation of nuclei by density gradient centrifugation. … Non-ionic detergents, such as Triton X-100, facilitate the release of nuclei from cells and prevent nuclei from clumping…”

[iii]   In a recent video, Kaufman says virologists should use only human body matter, such as saliva, to isolate and study viruses, and he claimed it can be done with exosomes. There are various problems with this claim, as described in previous articles, but if you get someone to drool into a cup, then centrifuge it, you’ll end up with a pellet with exosomes in it because they purify at roughly the same band as viruses. The best way to find out if there are viral particles in there as well is to see if anything replicates in another set of cells. Alternatively, metagenomic or proteomic analyses can be performed. Studies that describe isolating exosomes from human samples use biomarkers such as TSG101 to identify them, and then they extract the RNA to characterize them, just like virologists do with viruses! Other techniques include proteomics (used in the study Kaufman refers to)  and microRNA analysis. Besides, the “viscosity and cellular contamination of whole saliva make it a less than ideal medium for exosomal isolation

[iv] HeLa cells have known to have contaminated many laboratories around the world, and in 1991 researchers discovered that HeLa cells had become new species (called Helacyton gartleri) “as a result of countless cell passages, viral infections or other cell line contaminants”.

[v]  “Cell cultures affected by bacterial contamination generally appear turbid in appearance. Furthermore, the high metabolic rates of bacteria can modify the pH of the culture media and thus change the color of phenol red to yellow.” It’s fairly easy to identify fungus growing in cell cultures because they produce, “multicellular, highly connected, thin filaments (hyphae)”. Viruses, however, are difficult to detect: “The presence of viral contaminants can be challenging to confirm but generally relies on PCR, ELISA, immunocytochemistry, or electron microscopy.”

[vi] “Cells stop growing when their neighbour cells come too close (contact inhibition) or when damaged DNA sends specific signals out of or into the cell. These processes depend on the sufficient supply of nutrients; starving cells stop growing, go on strike and the cell cycle comes to a halt. Internal factors can also affect the cell cycle: cells only divide when they have reached a certain size or when the DNA has been duplicated.”

Image: Wikipedia

Read much more about the science behind the coronavirus injections at Julie Beal’s archive.

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