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Steps Toward a Universal Flu Vaccine

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the one-antibody-to-rule-them-all dept.

Biotech 177

Plasmoid writes "The NYTimes is reporting that scientists have starting developing what could turn out to be a 'universal' flu vaccine. They created antibody proteins that can neutralize different strains of the influenza virus, including the deadly H5N1 bird flu, the virus behind the 1918 epidemic, and common seasonal strains. These new antibodies target part of the virus that is shared between different strains and thus appear to be broadly effective. However, some experts question whether a universal vaccine of this kind is even possible, since the human body has been unable to come up with an antibody solution. An article on nature.com describes the work further."

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177 comments

My Solution: The Tax on Cows (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26963839)

Read more here: At cowtax.com [cowtax.com] but beware of the cows!!!!!

Re:My Solution: The Tax on Cows (0, Offtopic)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#26964159)

What the fuck is wrong with slashdot?

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charset=iso-8859-1
OK
The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.
Please contact the server administrator, admin@slashdot.org and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error.

More information about this error may be available in the server error log.

Apache/1.3.41 Server at slashdot.org Port 80

Re:My Solution: The Tax on Cows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26964207)

What the fuck is wrong with slashdot?

I can't get the main page to appear, the RSS feed works...which is how I got here.

The main page is just a header and a sea of white nothing.

I do have NoScript and ABP disabled, it made no difference.

Re:My Solution: The Tax on Cows (1, Offtopic)

tedgyz (515156) | more than 5 years ago | (#26965327)

So why the fsck are you telling us? It says to contact the server administrator. Do you think they are reading every thread to see your complaint?

Just incase anyone needs an update (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26963859)

Influenza [wikipedia.org]

In humans, common symptoms of the disease are chills, fever, pharyngitis, muscle pains, severe headache, coughing, weakness, and general discomfort.[1] In more serious cases, influenza causes pneumonia, which can be fatal, particularly in young children and the elderly. Although it is often confused with the common cold, influenza is a much more severe disease and is caused by a different type of virus.[2] Influenza can produce nausea and vomiting, especially in children,[1] but these symptoms are more characteristic of the unrelated gastroenteritis, which is sometimes called "stomach flu" or "24-hour flu".[3]

We geeks often neglect our health, especially during the cold and flu season (Which is a prime time to stay inside, Frag noobs, write badass scripts, Watch Babylon 5, etc). Make sure you take all the necessary precautions [wikipedia.org] to keep your wetware virus-free!

Re:Just incase anyone needs an update (1)

masshuu (1260516) | more than 5 years ago | (#26964139)

for the love of god mod him up guys...

freaking non-geek mod point owners something...

Re:Just incase anyone needs an update (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 5 years ago | (#26964753)

We geeks often neglect our health, especially during the cold and flu season (Which is a prime time to stay inside, Frag noobs, write badass scripts, Watch Babylon 5, etc). Make sure you take all the necessary precautions [wikipedia.org] to keep your wetware virus-free!

I don't know what you're trying to say, but we geeks are actually taking much better care of our health in this respect than non-geeks, simply because we tend to spend a bit less time in the company of other people, and more time indoors in a controlled environment. This gives us a slightly lower exposure to these kinds of contagious afflictions.

Re:Just incase anyone needs an update (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26964789)

simply because we tend to spend a bit less time in the company of other people,
and more time indoors in a controlled environment. This gives us a slightly lower exposure to these kinds of
contagious afflictions.

Tell that to the AD&D club. Then again they can roll twenties to get out of infectious diseases if they have maxed out charisma. So I guess that doesn't count.

Re:Just incase anyone needs an update (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26965117)

A first-post AC modded +5?!? IMPOSSIBLE!

Only stupidity is universal. (0, Troll)

amn108 (1231606) | more than 5 years ago | (#26963867)

Playing gods again, are we? Hope this one does not turn me into a viscious human animal much like those freaky infected characters from "I Am Legend". Did not look like those guys were having much fun with life. And all they wanted is a shot of a universal cancer vaccine.

Re:Only stupidity is universal. (1)

s.bots (1099921) | more than 5 years ago | (#26964063)

A little skepticism is good, but remember:

Books/Movies != Real life

Re:Only stupidity is universal. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26964187)

A little skepticism is good, but remember:

Books/Movies != Real life

So... the Civil War never happened?! Fucking history books lied to me!

Re:Only stupidity is universal. (2, Interesting)

arekusu_ou (1344373) | more than 5 years ago | (#26964251)

You're right...that silly Jules Verne, actually thought we'd be up to the moon someday. HAHAHA

Next all those weirdo reading books about artificial intelligence would actually expect us to do research and developing neural nets.

And cloning, you can't possibly ever make a genetic duplicate. I mean come on, someone else walking around with your same genes that wasn't born at the same time as you? The odds must be astronomical.

The point is, imagination and wondering and writing about what could be, can lead people to try to figure out if it's possible or if we even should.

There are groups in the government that write papers on worse case scenarios and plan for disasters. Of course this was also a bunch of books and movies...so...couldn't possibly happen can it?

Re:Only stupidity is universal. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26964517)

Did you deliberately miss his point or are you really that stupid?

Re:Only stupidity is universal. (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 5 years ago | (#26964851)

Sure, books divided by movies do not equal real life, but I am legend was a book AND a movie.

Book + movie = totally real.

Re:Only stupidity is universal. (1)

Sephr (1356341) | more than 5 years ago | (#26964119)

Since when is using man-made antibodies "playing god"? Last I checked, the Flying Spaghetti monster doesn't impose laws on the use of man-made antibodies.

Re:Only stupidity is universal. (2, Funny)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 5 years ago | (#26964173)

Playing gods again, are we?

We kind of have been ever since we mastered fire. Humans have never gone with the natural flow. Where have you been for the last million years?

Have you seen a movie called "Terminator?" Better stop using your computer.

Re:Only stupidity is universal. (1)

Abreu (173023) | more than 5 years ago | (#26965141)

Well, considering that my current bout of flu is already making me feel like a mindless zombie...

Re:Only stupidity is universal. (2, Insightful)

budgenator (254554) | more than 5 years ago | (#26965667)

If you had actually read the article, you might have noticed that the antibodies discovered are in fact naturally produced in the human body and not the result of "playing God". Unfortunately the body doesn't seem to produce enough of these antibodies to result in immunity; probably because the influenza virus has distracting structures that are rapidly mutating. The researchers are proposing stimulating the immune system to produce more antibodies for the non-mutating parts of the virus by making a vaccine out of the non-mutating part.

vaccine even possible? (2, Insightful)

bugi (8479) | more than 5 years ago | (#26963869)

some experts question whether a universal vaccine of this kind is even possible, since the human body has been unable to come up with an antibody solution.

Experts in what? Theology?

So either evolution is perfect and has already done it or it can't be done?

Riiiight. Evolution != god.

FUCKIN' A (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26964033)

Slashdotters really really need to get over the obsession with evolution, there is no such thing. How many fuckin' times do I have to tell you pimply kids that? If it was real, you wouldn't have pimples...

Re:FUCKIN' A (1)

Sephr (1356341) | more than 5 years ago | (#26964165)

Slashdotters really really need to get over the obsession with evolution, there is no such thing. How many fuckin' times do I have to tell you pimply kids that? If it was real, you wouldn't have pimples...

What would the mutation that causes pimples have done that would make you be seceded by through evolution?

Re:FUCKIN' A (1)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 5 years ago | (#26965045)

Hey, back in late 3800bc and the first parts of 3700bc (of course, that's not what we called it in those days) pimples were totally hot. All the cavegirls wanted a man with pimples. So yeah, sure, they might not be attractive now, but that's not to say it wasn't always the case.

Man o' man... those pimply faced kids got a whole lot of cavin' action - if ya know what I mean.

Re:FUCKIN' A (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26965171)

Man o' man... those pimply faced kids got a whole lot of cavin' action - if ya know what I mean.

The cave-yard bullies used to seal them inside caves?? Oh, the horror...

Re:vaccine even possible? (4, Funny)

cheesybagel (670288) | more than 5 years ago | (#26964057)

That must be why the human body didn't come with a vaccine for smallpox either. Oh wait...

innoculation or vaccine? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26964935)

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Who is Mary Tocco

Bio Page

        * Director of Vaccine Research and Education on the board of Michigan Opposing Mandatory Vaccines, since 1994
        * Spent 23 years managing and promoting a chiropractic clinic and studying natural health care.
        * I am an independent investigator of vaccines for last 27 years.

America's Number #1 Research Center

*Professional * * Dedicated *

Mary Tocco

          Mary Tocco has been in the health care field for over 27 years and is currently running her daughter, Dr. Renee Tocco's chiropractic wellness clinic in Charleston, SC. She was married to Dr. Sam Tocco and spent 23 years managing and promoting their chiropractic clinic in Michigan. They have 5 healthy unvaccinated children. Before having their first child 27 years ago, they had the opportunity to research childhood vaccines and made the decision to not vaccinate their children. She became actively involved in Michigan when a bill was introduced in Michigan, which threatened to remove the "Philosophical Exemption" to waive vaccines. She got involved with Michigan Opposing Mandatory Vaccines (MOM), a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the right of parents to waive vaccines if they choose, and the group successfully stopped the bill from passing. That was the beginning of a dedicated, passionate career of educating and reaching out to parents around the country. Mary has been sharing and encouraging parents to be pro active in the health care of their family, utilizing natural, holistic and health promoting ideas for raising their children. She had four of her five children born at home with mid-wives, promotes breast feeding, pro active healthy life syle, supports home education and a dedicated Christian. She founded the Precious Health Campaign, LLC to help reach parents across America so that they too would have the same opportunity for healthy families. She is a dynamic speaker so please consider her for your next conference.

"I have been independently researching this issue and many other health care issues that face the American Family for over 27 years. I have been publicly speaking for the last 12 years and am available to speak to your group or association. I have been on the board of Michigan Opposing Mandatory Vaccines (MOM) since 1994 and also am the Director of Vaccine Research and Education since 1996. My lecture is based on 27 plus years of research and fully documented. I will expose the deception and greed that fuels the vaccine industry and help parents to understand what they must do to promote their family's health without toxic vaccines or drugs. Parents are ready to hear the full truth and want answers. I have all the information they are seeking! Please invite me to speak to your group so we can reach those in need." Thank You. I am passionate about helping families so please refer your friends to my new site, www.childhoodshots.com "

Re:innoculation or vaccine? (5, Insightful)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 5 years ago | (#26965379)

The only reason her kids are healthy an unvaccinated are because everyone else IS vaccinated. She is an idiot, as is everyone working with her. Especially since she claims vaccines are "toxic". They haven't been since 2001 or so when they phased out mercury in all vaccines. Evolution and nature are not magic. They don't make "perfect" things. They make "good enough" things. If evolution were perfect, we would be able to see in the dark as well as cats, and wouldn't get sunburned or cancer.

Re:vaccine even possible? (4, Funny)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 5 years ago | (#26965055)

That must be why the human body didn't come with a vaccine for smallpox either. Oh wait...

Actually, in history, two humans have instantaneously developed full immunity to smallpox through the correct antibodies. Sadly, before anyone could work out they were immune to it, they died of the common cold.

From an evolutinary standpoint... (5, Insightful)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | more than 5 years ago | (#26964145)

Agreed, this is a horrible summary:

However, some experts question whether a universal vaccine of this kind is even possible, since the human body has been unable to come up with an antibody solution.

Firstly adding to your point (and according to the theory,) evolution is only "perfect" over an infinite time frame. The fact that there is no universal antibody could mean one of two things: the time frame was too short or there's a reason why the human body doesn't want a universal solution, and I can think of at least one big one.

The human body has thousands of known symbiotic relationships and potentially thousands or millions of unknown ones. Most of these are bacterium (or more rarely viruses) that do something to help the human body. The digestive tract has literally trillions of non-human cells within it. There is even an organ who's use (which was previously unknown) is to store 'good' bacteria when the body is fighting other harmful invaders. I'm speaking of course of the appendix - the one organ which literally oozes symbiosis. The human body might not 'want' a universal solution as those which are adapted to allow the potential for additional symbiotic relationships before ejecting them have a better chance at thriving as every tiny advantage helps.

I'm not saying this is a step in the wrong direction and I'm not saying this is necessarily a bad thing because the vast majority if not all viruses of this strain are harmful to humans at this point, but to say that evolution couldn't come up with a solution therefore there isn't one makes a ton of huge assumptions which probably aren't all valid.

Re:From an evolutinary standpoint... (2, Interesting)

mikael (484) | more than 5 years ago | (#26964829)

Aren't modified flu viruses used to perform "gene therapy" with some rare genetic disorders. What if someone did get the perfect "universal flu vaccine", then found out they had a genetic disorder that could only be fixed using gene therapy?

I always wondered whether viruses were deliberately created by the cells in all sorts of creatures as a way of spreading beneficial modifications - the only disadvantage being it sometimes ends up reaching the wrong species.

Re:From an evolutinary standpoint... (1)

chooks (71012) | more than 5 years ago | (#26965257)

Aren't modified flu viruses used to perform "gene therapy" with some rare genetic disorders

My understanding is that the transmission vector is usually an adenovirus or an adeno-associated virus. I would think that flu viruses (normal influenza -- orthomyxovirus) are not an ideal vector because it is a segmented virus, so odd recombination events (antigenic shift) can occur under the appropriate conditions.

I always wondered whether viruses were deliberately created by the cells in all sorts of creatures as a way of spreading beneficial modifications

Maybe not "deliberately" created by cells, but a decent chunk of the human genome is viral [wikipedia.org]. Of course, the viruses to viruses are pretty conceptually interesting (e.g. Hepatitis D -- which can only exist with a Hepatitis B infection).

Re:vaccine even possible? (5, Informative)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 5 years ago | (#26964249)

So either evolution is perfect and has already done it or it can't be done?

Keep in mind that every single vaccine out there merely uses your natural immune system. All vaccines do is present the immune system with a target, then the immune system does it's work. That's it. Vaccines absolutely rely on the immune system. So yes, if the immune system absolutely can't make you immune to every flu virus, then we can't make a vaccine that could.

A non-vaccine based approach might work, like the antiviral cocktails used to treat AIDS, but that's horribly inefficient, would require constant medication, and could end up making superflu. Really the best solutions all end with priming the immune system to do the dirty work.

Re:vaccine even possible? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26964341)

Experts in what? Theology?

Yeah, for real. These guys using evolution as a basis for their skepticism must be some real lunatic-fringe fundamentalist bible thumpers.

Fuckwit.

Re:vaccine even possible? (1, Troll)

Zan Lynx (87672) | more than 5 years ago | (#26965263)

If God meant Man to fly He would have given us wings. So don't bother inventing airplanes.

If Evolution meant Man to fly it would have evolved us wings. So don't bother inventing airplanes.

Both pretty silly arguments!

If Evolution meant Man to be immune to the flu, we would be, so don't bother trying.

Equally silly and is theological because it treats Evolution as if it was perfect and all-knowing, i.e. God.

Re:vaccine even possible? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26964893)

some experts question whether a universal vaccine of this kind is even possible, since the human body has been unable to come up with an antibody solution.

Of course, if the human body did come up with one, it would be called Intelligent Design.

Not only that, but (4, Informative)

jdpars (1480913) | more than 5 years ago | (#26963897)

There was a talk about this at TED. Turns out the same ideas of shared virus parts can be used to identify and diagnose, or even as this article suggests, cure various diseases very quickly.

Weird logic (3, Insightful)

avandesande (143899) | more than 5 years ago | (#26963917)

"However, some experts question whether a universal vaccine of this kind is even possible, since the human body has been unable to come up with an antibody solution. "

Using this logic we shouldn't have come up with vaccines for smallpox, polio or rabies either.

Re:Weird logic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26964313)

You can develop immunity to these infections after being exposed to them, so a vaccine is theoretically possible. There is not a recorded case of a human developing universal flu immunity after being infected by any given flu strain. You are still susceptible to the other varieties.

Re:Weird logic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26964325)

The reason is in TFA:

Influenza is notoriously adept at mutating, meaning that flu vaccines must be reformulated almost every year.

Re:Weird logic (4, Informative)

swillden (191260) | more than 5 years ago | (#26964931)

"However, some experts question whether a universal vaccine of this kind is even possible, since the human body has been unable to come up with an antibody solution. "

Using this logic we shouldn't have come up with vaccines for smallpox, polio or rabies either.

We were able to come up with vaccines specifically because the body can come up with an antibody solution. Those vaccines (all vaccines) work by stimulating the production of the same antibodies it would produce to fight an infection.

The challenge here is to develop a vaccine that causes the body to produce antibodies that it would NOT produce in response to an infection. This vaccine must cause the body to produce antibodies that are more general than those it would produce for any specific flu, but still specific enough that they won't attack anything beneficial.

I'm not a doctor. But I did take health in 9th grade.

Re:Weird logic (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 5 years ago | (#26964937)

Using this logic we shouldn't have come up with vaccines for smallpox, polio or rabies either.

The body does come up with antibody solutions to those diseases... it just does it a little slower than you'd like after the first infection (IE the virus spreads and you get sick and die before your body identifies an antibody that works and starts pumping it out to make you immune.)

With the flu, you catch one and become immune to it, but the next year a different strain comes out and you're not immune to it. Your antibodies don't recognize the newer form and you're not immune. Fortunately that doesn't happen as often with smallpox, polio, or rabies. At least, I think it doesn't, I'd expect some variation in strains, but it seems like the antibodies you make against those viruses after being vaccinated are targeted against components that don't get changed enough to be unrecognizeable to the antibodies.

Re:Weird logic (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26965047)

"However, some experts question whether a universal vaccine of this kind is even possible, since the human body has been unable to come up with an antibody solution. "

Using this logic we shouldn't have come up with vaccines for smallpox, polio or rabies either.

Actually, people do come up with "antibody solutions" to smallpox and polio - at least the ones that survive do. If you came down with smallpox or polio, and you survived it, you'd never contract it again, even if you were exposed later. This is due to the antibodies your body generates against the viruses. That's how we came up with the idea for vaccines in the first place - people knew that giving young kids smallpox prevents later infections (assuming they don't die the first time around) - all Jenner did was realize that you could use cowpox to the same effect, with less of the "die the first time around" bit.

Rabies is a little different, as it is uniformly 100% fatal unless treated - but that's really because the disease acts faster than the immune system can. The immune system can produce antibodies against the virus, it's just that rabies kills you before they can do their job.

The quoted argument is that if it was possible to get immunity by targeting antibodies to the stalk, a significant number of people who survive one strain of the flu should develop such a "universal" immunity (because in developing antibodies, our bodies try out stuff randomly - and in a random search someone should find any viable solution), and thus never come down with *any* flu strain ever again. That's not what we see though - even if you get immunity to one flu strain, you're still susceptible to the rest. Ergo, the universal immunity probably doesn't work as well as you would think.

So much for the meaning of "universal" (2, Funny)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#26963933)

I found this quote rather comical.

"If you have one or two that cover the vast majority of isolates, I wouldn't be ashamed to call that a universal vaccine."

So, universal now means "vast majority." So I guess, to really refer to universal, we'll have to say "actually universal." Hm.

Re:So much for the meaning of "universal" (1)

wild_quinine (998562) | more than 5 years ago | (#26964009)

If you have one or two that cover the vast majority of isolates, I wouldn't be ashamed to call that a universal vaccine.

I wouldn't be ashamed to take this large wodge of money and get my name in all the papers, but I reserve the right to be contrite, abashed, and sheepish. Sheepish, especially. That costs extra. First, you have to pay for the sheep - but then the shame takes care of itself!

Re:So much for the meaning of "universal" (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | more than 5 years ago | (#26964071)

It would be as universal as the world series is... uh. Miss universe is... uh. What were we talking about again?

Re:So much for the meaning of "universal" (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#26964129)

Heh... well you have a point, but that's a pop culture world, not a scientific world.

Re:So much for the meaning of "universal" (1)

collinstocks (1295204) | more than 5 years ago | (#26964741)

In the English world, words mean the same thing universally. But, then, that's only in the English world :)

the human body has been unable to come up with.... (5, Insightful)

wild_quinine (998562) | more than 5 years ago | (#26963943)

However, some experts question whether a universal vaccine of this kind is even possible, since the human body has been unable to come up with an antibody solution.

No offence, I love the human body and all, but there are LOTS of things it has 'been unable to come up with', including the much needed ability to render stupid people unconscious by concentrating hard.

Being part of a system of evolution is not a panacea for disease; quite the opposite. Almost every positive thing you can say about our resistance to disease comes directly or indirectly off the back of people who didn't have a particular type of resistance 'taking one for the team', so to speak. There's nothing wrong with hunting for cures that DON'T involve the mass extinctions of the genetically unfortunate. There'll be plenty of time for it to all work itself out.

Re:the human body has been unable to come up with. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26964477)

there are LOTS of things it has 'been unable to come up with', including the much needed ability to render stupid people unconscious by concentrating hard.

Well, no- I mean- that's just because- the thing is- it's easy to explain if you'd hang on a- okay, what I'm really trying to say is

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Re:the human body has been unable to come up with. (0)

owlnation (858981) | more than 5 years ago | (#26964591)

including the much needed ability to render stupid people unconscious by concentrating hard

Man, I really hope scientists are working on a vaccine for that. That alone would advance humanity much further than curing cancer.

Re:the human body has been unable to come up with. (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#26964863)

including the much needed ability to render stupid people unconscious by concentrating hard

Man, I really hope scientists are working on a vaccine for that. That alone would advance humanity much further than curing cancer.

Yeah, and if we could keep stupid people out of the picture, we'd probably have a universal cancer cure in record time anyway.

Re:the human body has been unable to come up with. (1)

martas (1439879) | more than 5 years ago | (#26965771)

That's not about evolution though, it's about every person alive today who's had the flu (or weaker forms thereof) many times during their lives, but still has no antibodies for the "general" version.

Or do I mean the common cold? I got confused...

is flight impossible too? (0)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#26963953)

Obviously, we should not be able to fly, as the human body has not come up with a solution to that either. Only humans create artificial rivers and lakes just so they can shit in them. Let me know when the bears come up with toilets, as last I checked, their still shitting in the woods. Stupid bears. We should shoot them. Hah hah, opposable thumbs! Bang Bang!

Re:is flight impossible too? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26964161)

But there is considerable selection pressure to stop us dying of flu. Less so the development of flight.

Also, an antibody solution to the flu would require very little energy and not much mutation, as it would be using pre-existent immune mechanisms. The energy demands of flight are high, and there would need to be some quite substantial mutations for flight (reduction in bone density, wings and the ability to use them etc).

Comparing the two is a little bit disingenuous.

Is dying of the flu beneficial though and? (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#26964905)

But there is considerable selection pressure to stop us dying of flu. Less so the development of flight

First off, we have to assume that a mutation leading to a certain flu free human is even possible. I'm not a bio guy by any stretch of the imagination but I would be willing to bet that there are some transformations from one gene to another that are essentially impossible.

Secondly, is there really considerable selection pressure to keep us from dying of the flu? That's really the question. It might actually be that dying from the flu could have been a positive force for humanity in some weird way. Like, if you have too many kids for a local eco-system to support - the flu comes along. If you have too many old people, the flu comes along. If a group of humans didn't have the flu, they might well succumb under their own weight. Those humans, as a whole, then breed anew and spread and conquer those other humans who are all weak and starving.

So, far from flu resistance evolving, I'd say, if anything, it might well be that we have been selected to die from the flu.

Maybe we were selected to die from the flu. (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#26964915)

First off, we have to assume that a mutation leading to a certain flu free human is even possible. I'm not a bio guy by any stretch of the imagination but I would be willing to bet that there are some transformations from one gene to another that are essentially impossible.

Secondly, is there really considerable selection pressure to keep us from dying of the flu? That's really the question. It might actually be that dying from the flu could have been a positive force for humanity in some weird way. Like, if you have too many kids for a local eco-system to support - the flu comes along. If you have too many old people, the flu comes along. If a group of humans didn't have the flu, they might well succumb under their own weight. Those humans, as a whole, then breed anew and spread and conquer those other humans who are all weak and starving.

So, far from flu resistance evolving, I'd say, I doubt that a resistance to the flu could evolve, and, even if it could, then it might well be that we have been selected to die from the flu.

Re:is flight impossible too? (3, Interesting)

phallstrom (69697) | more than 5 years ago | (#26964223)

Polish 2nd Ammendment...the right to arm bears!!! (1)

rts008 (812749) | more than 5 years ago | (#26964519)

First, let me say: Many thanks for that link!!! :-)

Second, let me say: OMGZ!1!11! and a resounding WTF??!?!?

Third: I for one, welcome our beer drinking, cigar smoking, mortar-round toting Army Bear overlords!!

That may be the most amazing thing I have read in quite a while.

The human body is S-M-R-T (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26963961)

Well if the human body hasn't figured it out by itself, then what chance do we have.

I don't why we invented armour, our skin should have learned how to protect itself against sharp stabby knives by now.

Re:The human body is S-M-R-T (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 5 years ago | (#26964153)

I don't why we invented armour, our skin should have learned how to protect itself against sharp stabby knives by now.

Funny, but not really helpful. Your evolved defense against a knife is: avoid getting stabbed. That's far more effective than avoiding the flu. And also knives are a much newer thing that haven't caused much evolution yet, wheras viruses seem to have been around a lot longer and did shape evolution.

The human body is pretty smart, especially on a molecular level. We don't have machines yet that rival the efficiency of many enzymes found in your body. The old adage that the dumbest kidney is far smarter than the smartest doctor is really true.

Re:The human body is S-M-R-T (1)

ardor (673957) | more than 5 years ago | (#26965061)

With some notable exceptions like the blind spot in the eye, the kneecap, or our teeth. Also, why is the liver the only organ which can grow back? Why don't we have limbs that can regrow? Why can't we control our own immune system consciously, for example to designate HI and Influenza viruses as hostile?

Some Experts Question... (5, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | more than 5 years ago | (#26964035)

> some experts question whether a universal
> vaccine of this kind is even possible, since
> the human body has been unable to come up with
> an antibody solution

First, the researchers don't claim a universal anti-virus, simply a broad spectrum one.

Those nay-saying, have no lab data, those doing the research do. Its effective in animal studies and human studies will soon begin.

The human body does not search for the best antibody, or the most universal one. It simply throws stuff out there and sees what sticks (figuratively and literally).

This approach goes after an area on the virus that is hard to reach because of its structure.

Quoting TFA:

" The flu virus uses the lollipop-shaped hemagglutinin spike to invade nose and lung cells. There are 16 known types of spikes, H1 through H16.

The spikeâ(TM)s tip mutates constantly, which is why flu shots have to be reformulated each year. But the team found a way to expose the spikeâ(TM)s neck, which apparently does not mutate, and picked antibodies that clamped onto it. "

Re:Some Experts Question... (2, Informative)

Americano (920576) | more than 5 years ago | (#26964451)

First, the researchers don't claim a universal anti-virus, simply a broad spectrum one.

You're right - the researchers don't make that claim at all.

Those nay-saying, have no lab data, those doing the research do. Its effective in animal studies and human studies will soon begin.

From TFA in Nature (emphasis mine):

The antibodies also give researchers clues about how to develop new vaccines. "This opens up the avenue of thinking about universal influenza vaccines, which has not been realistic before," says Peter Palese, an influenza expert at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York who was not involved in the work.

It seems to me like both sides of the disagreement over whether or not this could lead to a "universal" influenza vaccine are running their mouths without much data.

Re:Some Experts Question... (2, Funny)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 5 years ago | (#26964859)

Quoting TFA:

" The flu virus uses the lollipop-shaped hemagglutinin spike to invade nose and lung cells.

That right there explains why the flu is so contagious with kids - you stick a lollipop in front of them and presto, they're all over it.

Human arrogance (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#26964085)

However, some experts question whether a universal vaccine of this kind is even possible, since the human body has been unable to come up with an antibody solution. Is it just me, or does this statement seriously underestimate the millions and millions of years necessary (during which the majority of the population must die from the flu the entire time) necessary for evolution to come up with an "antibody solution"?

Re:Human arrogance (1)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 5 years ago | (#26964723)

That's not human arrogance. Human arrogance is that we can create a universal drug.

It's Divine Arrogance which states that God/Nature/The Universe would have cured it if it was possible and that science has no business messing around with The Way Things Are (tm)

Re:Human arrogance (1)

Zironic (1112127) | more than 5 years ago | (#26964751)

It doesn't take millions of years for the body to create an antibody solution, generally it does it really fast. However the body keeps doing it for the specific strain and the strain is different each year.

The researchers have a huge advantage the body doesn't have, they can compare all the strains to find similarities and thus create a broad spectrum antibody.

Re:Human arrogance (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 5 years ago | (#26964969)

Is it just me, or does this statement seriously underestimate the millions and millions of years necessary (during which the majority of the population must die from the flu the entire time) necessary for evolution to come up with an "antibody solution"?

I think they're talking about the current human body as opposed to one in millions of years. Your immune system as it is now appears unable to prevent all flu viruses, maybe that's because of -current- inherent limitations on it, which is of course of interest to you right now. I don't think anyone would dispute that given enough time and natural selection, the immune system would be able to find a way.

Re:Human arrogance (1)

bornwaysouth (1138751) | more than 5 years ago | (#26965479)

Actually, human evolution has probably only had 10,000 years - since the development of agriculture. Wide epidemics need population centers. Otherwise, the flu passes through the small wandering tribe, and has run its course before the tribe meets someone new to infect. (Xenophobia is also a really good idea. Chat to strangers over a fire, with them downwind.)

The evolution argument also assumes that antibodies know what the object of the exercise is. I did research on them, but was a chemist way back, and got an Antibodies for Idiots introduction to it. Here's the out of date, last of the ideas still clinging to neurons summary...

Essentially, it is purely a mechanical process.
1. In your body you have in circulation a bunch of cells that each produce antibodies of one precise sequence. Only a really tiny part of really big foreign molecules gets recognized.
2. If an invader is recognized, it gets chomped up and that process also passes on an instruction to make more antibodies, that are similar but with small variations.
3. Cells types that have been ramped up to produce antibodies tend to stick around for a long time.

Essentially, it is a good general purpose mechanical but adaptive system. It isn't out to stop the flu. Being that narrowly focussed would be dangerous. It is like a New Yorker deciding that the enemy for all time is an Indian or Englishman or Southerner or German or Communist or Saudi. Times change. Your immune system works really well most of the time.

Downside is: whilst our immune system is evolving, so is the flu. So any solution could take a while. Ideally, an effective disease does not kill its host, or not many of them. It is like a herbivore that just grazes then moves on when the season changes. As long as a virus can multiply and find a new host to infect, it is fine. If it slowly mutates its shape, it can come back eventually and graze again. We may not have an enormous incentive to focus too heavily on most flus.

Also, the article refers to a minor and implicitly difficult to get to part of the flu virus as the target area. The immune system has no long term strategy. If it recognizes (initially poorly) part of the flu virus, it will work on that with its positive feed-back loops. This is more likely to be the highly modified stick part of the 'lollipop' shape. If the immune system works quickly enough, you won't even know you were infected. The immune system is working efficiently, but it deals with tactics, not strategy.

The article therefore is quite right in finding these very minor part of the immune population antibodies as being more useful. But these researchers too are working at a tactical level. That is, they have a mechanical approach which works well. The 'evolution tells you something' warning might still be valid. For instance, suppose these new antibodies recognize that a bit of the virus neck which also has a similar structure to a protein at a critical stage of human development. Fix the flu, abort a fetus. Now you are into trade-offs. Evolution is quite happy to be active there. (Apologies to any purists who hate an abstract mechanical entity called evolution having emotions like 'happy'.) The worry is - has it already been there, and found out that the trade-off wasn't worth it.

Good research. But anything new can bite you. (Keep it downwind and the other side of the fire.)

whatcouldpossiblygowrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26964095)

This is how Skysnot gets started.

Funny, I was just thinking about this... (0, Troll)

bitrex (859228) | more than 5 years ago | (#26964285)

I was thinking earlier today "I may now be unemployed and unable to afford my housing - but at least I can't think of a way the economy could get much worse." Then I thought "Unless further defaults on ARMs through the summer is followed by a global flu pandemic in the winter of 2009-2010." Not only would the economy grind to a halt as many wouldn't want to risk infection by heading off to work, it could also bankrupt the healthcare industry through millions needing coverage for vaccines and lengthy hospitalizations. Now that would be a perfect storm worthy of Murphy.

Re:Funny, I was just thinking about this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26964509)

I think you are severely underestimating the negative impact of the next flu pandemic. Considering it will likely be a mutation of H5N1, you're looking at something potentially much worse than the Spanish Flu of 1918, in terms of pathogenicity AND severity of symptoms. Mass death!

Re:Funny, I was just thinking about this... (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 5 years ago | (#26965063)

This may be a bit harsh, but the effects would be worst in the countries least economically important, and vice-versa. The Spanish Flu, today, would not have nearly the effect in the advanced countries as it did in 1918. Even without a vaccine, our public health, sanitation, and communication is so much better now that it would greatly mitigate the results.

Re:Funny, I was just thinking about this... (1)

TheGarggh (822606) | more than 5 years ago | (#26965081)

On the contrary, our public health, sanitation, and communication systems may be gutted by the flu before we scarcely have a chance to react. Our health care system would be overwhelmed within a matter of days. Doctors and nurses would be equally, if not more so, susceptible to the virus.

Hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26964321)

So is this gonna turn out to be like the Krippin Virus where we become vampire mutants?

Give me a break there, will ya? (-1, Offtopic)

Seth Kriticos (1227934) | more than 5 years ago | (#26964483)

...virus behind the 1918 epidemic...

The 1918 epidemic - commonly known as the "Spanish flu" - was probably a lie. Before it broke out, there was a large scale vaccination and surprisingly most of the affected people who got it were vaccinated, which also explains why the victims were mostly young adults, usually unaffected by these types of infectious diseases.

No wonder this is not mentioned in most history books, because most of the people involved in the story were too embarrassed to have committed such a large scale genocide (about 50 million fatalities) and did not want it to get noticed.

The so called bird flu is not inherently a virus either. It's more of an intoxication consequence of modern industrial meat production. So was BSE.

Vaccinating against intoxication is pointless. Actually, vaccination in general is futile. The people originally developing vaccination admitted this themselves in their late days but nobody listened to them once it became a profitable business. Ever wondered why you had such a hellish week after one or the other vaccination? How about where your allergy came from? Ever read the ingredients of a vaccine? Thought so. Never mind.

You really think the pharmaceutic industry has less pork than the software industry, the military industrial complex or the oil industry?

Now I know most of you won't believe me and still take this and other vaccinations. So be it, as long as no one forces me to do this stuff. What bothers me a bit is, that when the coming phantom epidemic will break out (which some people predicted as far as mid last year to shift the blame of the economic collapse ahead of us) there will be a forced vaccination of the whole population done in 2 phases (1 being optional with the suggestion that there is a limited supply of vaccine to maximize profits, second will be the forced vaccination of the whole population).

Now go on with your prejudice and mod me flame..

Re:Give me a break there, will ya? (1)

TheGarggh (822606) | more than 5 years ago | (#26964577)

The reason the 1918 flu had high mortality among young adults is because sometimes when the body is presented with a new and particularly severe infection, there occurs a "cytokine storm", a positive feedback loop of the immune system which can pretty much destroy you. A healthy immune system becomes a liability.

Re:Give me a break there, will ya? (2, Insightful)

Americano (920576) | more than 5 years ago | (#26964601)

I'm going to simply respond to your rambling, seemingly paranoid post with a single [Citation Needed].

Paranoid conspiracy theories require some verifiable proof, especially when they directly contradict peer-reviewed and verified science so conspicuously.

Re:Give me a break there, will ya? (2, Funny)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 5 years ago | (#26965093)

I'm going to simply respond to your rambling, seemingly paranoid post with a single [Citation Needed].

I for one believe the GP of this when they say that they cannot afford the housing they live in. No citation needed.

Re:Give me a break there, will ya? (1)

TroyM (956558) | more than 5 years ago | (#26964637)

I can't understand why the tin foil hat people think vaccines are a scam to make insane amounts of cash by the pharmaceuticals industry.

The reality is the last thing the industry wants is a cure for a disease. What they want is a drug that treats without curing, and has to be taken indefinitely. Something like Prozac, statin drugs, Viagra - that's where the money is.

Re:Give me a break there, will ya? (2)

Microlith (54737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26964643)

Actually, vaccination in general is futile.

Explain Smallpox, Polio, Hepatitis B, HPV, Chicken Pox, Measles, Mumps, and Rubella. It is not futile. You do it, or you risk dying from easily communicable diseases.

You're an idiot parroting "Vaccines are poison!" crap, who told you this, Jenny McCarthy?

Predjudice? No, that requires knowing nothing about you and making a rash judgment. You've plainly proved you're ignorant and little better than a wishful-thinking conspiracy theorist and deserve every flame fired against your dangerous spreading of mis-information.

Re:Give me a break there, will ya? (4, Informative)

TempeTerra (83076) | more than 5 years ago | (#26964775)

I was fortunate enough to be working with general practitioners during the bird flu scare, and between high school biology and the catch-up courses being run for the doctors about bird flu at the time I have a decent working knowledge of the subject.

In brief: please provide links for your paranoid delusions, I'd enjoy the read.

most of the affected people who got it were vaccinated, which also explains why the victims were mostly young adults, usually unaffected by these types of infectious diseases.

The flu variant believed to be responsible for the 1918 pandemic killed by causing a cytokine storm (wiki it yourself) - the host immune system overreacts and kills the host. Of course this is most effective against otherwise healthy people with a strong immune system that can really kick some ass... against their own body.

The so called bird flu is not inherently a virus either.

Yes it is. It's widely studied. All flu viruses are of avian origin and most of them can't even infect pigs and humans, the secondary carriers. The ones that can can be very deadly against humans because while human-specific diseases can't be deadly enough to kill their hosts often or the virus won't have anywhere to live, avian flu can persist as a minor annoyance in bird populations then leap out to massacre some humans from time to time.

there will be a forced vaccination of the whole population done in 2 phases (1 being optional with the suggestion that there is a limited supply of vaccine to maximize profits, second will be the forced vaccination of the whole population).

You suggest that the pharmaceutical industry has duped the entire medical profession into believing in a disease that doesn't even exist, and will inject the entire population with a potentially lethal disease causing agent, causing massive global economic collapse simply because they can get paid for every unit they produce? No comment.

Re:Give me a break there, will ya? (1)

kklein (900361) | more than 5 years ago | (#26964797)

You are a moron, and should be quarantined on an island with all the other people who, in the face of decades of research findings to the contrary, know goddamned well that vaccines work and have led to a healthier populace overall.

You'd probably thrive for generations, mistaking this for a vindication of your dunderheaded beliefs--until someone from civilized society visited, sneezed on you, and watched you all succumb in a year.

Finally... a profitable busines??? Since when??? Vaccines have a tremendously short shelf life and most go unused. That's money down the drain. In the smallpox terror scare a few years back, the reason it was scary was that the companies couldn't really afford to make the vaccine anymore because business on it had dropped off to nothing. There wasn't any available because it had been so effective in eradicating the target disease. Public money had to be used to get some back out there.

There is nothing that drives me crazier than anti-vaccine nutjobs like you. You don't deserve to live in civilized society.

Re:Give me a break there, will ya? (-1, Flamebait)

Seth Kriticos (1227934) | more than 5 years ago | (#26965581)

Your answers and reactions are as expected. Well, just wanted to see if there are some informed people here, but oh well.. letting my original post stay there with no references and answers to your reactions would be quite dumb, so here it goes.

TheGarggh

The reason the 1918 flu had high mortality among young adults is because sometimes when the body is presented with a new and particularly severe infection, there occurs a "cytokine storm", a positive feedback loop of the immune system which can pretty much destroy you. A healthy immune system becomes a liability.

That's speculative. Not even the official medical community states this as fact.

There is an article on this at http://www.whale.to/vaccine/sf1.html [whale.to] with some more detail.

Americano

I'm going to simply respond to your rambling, seemingly paranoid post with a single [Citation Needed].

Paranoid conspiracy theories require some verifiable proof, especially when they directly contradict peer-reviewed and verified science so conspicuously.

I'm on it, as you see.

TroyM

I can't understand why the tin foil hat people think vaccines are a scam to make insane amounts of cash by the pharmaceuticals industry.

Because it is so? Here is an article on the profit motivation part and the documented actions of the pharmacy industry to increase profits (bribes) http://www.naturalnews.com/024114.html [naturalnews.com] Note: this one has a surprisingly mainstream origin.

The reality is the last thing the industry wants is a cure for a disease. What they want is a drug that treats without curing, and has to be taken indefinitely. Something like Prozac, statin drugs, Viagra - that's where the money is.

Thats something I fully agree with.

Microlith

Explain Smallpox, Polio, Hepatitis B, HPV, Chicken Pox, Measles, Mumps, and Rubella. It is not futile. You do it, or you risk dying from easily communicable diseases.

You're an idiot parroting "Vaccines are poison!" crap, who told you this, Jenny McCarthy?

Predjudice? No, that requires knowing nothing about you and making a rash judgment. You've plainly proved you're ignorant and little better than a wishful-thinking conspiracy theorist and deserve every flame fired against your dangerous spreading of mis-information.

Ok, granted, you have no prejudice. You have religion.

TempeTerra

In brief: please provide links for your paranoid delusions, I'd enjoy the read.

The flu variant believed to be responsible for the 1918 pandemic killed by causing a cytokine storm (wiki it yourself) - the host immune system overreacts and kills the host. Of course this is most effective against otherwise healthy people with a strong immune system that can really kick some ass... against their own body.

Thats a long comment of you. I did wiki cytokine storm and even there they write statements with "it is believed". No conclusive evidence. But yea, it's wiki, so lets leave it at that.

You suggest that the pharmaceutical industry has duped the entire medical profession into believing in a disease that doesn't even exist, and will inject the entire population with a potentially lethal disease causing agent, causing massive global economic collapse simply because they can get paid for every unit they produce? No comment.

Probably yes.

kklein ...

Get some manners, dude.

Now to elaborate some of the other points. Interestingly nobody asked what ingredients vaccines have, as I was hinting. There is quite a good description at http://www.vaccination.inoz.com/ingredie.html [inoz.com] . I'm not a rocket scientist, but I don't want to get any of that anymore.

Now for the claim that vaccination is generally a hoax: http://www.whale.to/a/smallpox_hoax.html [whale.to]

And a little bit more history of vaccines: http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/031604_vaccine_epidemic.html [fromthewilderness.com]

And for my speculation about the pandemic that is supposed to break out. Yes, it is quite far fetched that it is a false flag attack to distract the attention of the population, but still, with another headline even the WHO forecasts this: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/markets/2924307/The-clock-ticks-on-economic-collapse.html [telegraph.co.uk]

Speaking of which, I think the WHO and CDC people are a bunch of morons and I put them on the same ethical level as Microsoft, to make an analogy, but that is a personal opinion, so forget about it.

Another thing. I'm not primarily researching it. Mostly I don't care, but I know some trusted people who are interested in the topic and actually do a lot of research about the topic and the credibility of the sources.

Out of the same reason I keep my eyes and ears open for news in this topic (passively), connect the dots and derive a probable conclusion. That's what I posted out of curiosity of what the reactions would be.

Now I expect anyone with a brain to *not* just believe me. Drive your own conclusions. Just don't come me with the bookshelf opinion. Use that thing in your head.

ps. and yes, I'm just scratching on the surface. The hole is way deeper.

Educate yourself so i don't have to (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26964865)

People. This, number one, is not a vaccine. It is just a new possibility for a new direction for vaccine researchers to explore. There are YEARS of work that needs to go into this in order to even become a vaccine candidate. To top it off, if you actually read the paper, you'll realize there are several factors, as in any vaccine research, that may make this discovery ineffective.

New discoveries are good, but to extrapolate it as they did, combined with publishing a letter where they essentially say "we found something but we have almost no clue what" shows researchers naive to the field of vaccine research. You better beleive that article will have some strong letters in reply, so keep your eye on the journal.

Universal Flu Vaccine (1)

Guppy (12314) | more than 5 years ago | (#26964869)

This is the second relatively invariant influenza target antigen identified now. The previous one being the M2 protein, which has given rise to great hopes of a universal flu vaccine [sciam.com].

As for which one seems more promising, I think we'll definitely see results from the M2-based work first. It has a substantial head start (I think there are some candidates in Phase II testing already), and it doesn't look like there are any fundamental obstacles popping up yet.

File it with 100 MPG carburetors (1)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 5 years ago | (#26964901)

Yeah, like those EVIL drug companies will NEVER let this out. Just like BIG OIL, they will bury this INNOVATION with the 100 MPG carburetor designs.

I was going for the tin-foil hat look, but I don't think I have enough caps... no pun intended.

Take the doctor's office approach (2, Funny)

StormySees (1481403) | more than 5 years ago | (#26965071)

When you go to the doc's, they rub your arm with alcohol so the puncture wound from the needle doesn't get infected, right? Alcohol kills off all the common, nasty germs that make you sick; like the Flu.

So if your blood alcohol level is raised, then the Flu virus can't possibly survive!

Let's all go out and have a shot of tequila with lime (citrus fruit with Vitamin C), share some laughs (laughter is the best medicine), and then go home and sleep off the alcohol (rest cures just about everything).

Who's with me?

I am legend vs terminator (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 5 years ago | (#26965129)

It really seems odd to me that any stories dealing with genetics, vaccines, or medicine in general get the "iamlegend" tag. This one for example: no viruses are being artificially made, nor is there much gene splicing going on. The equivalent would be be like someone tagging "BASH 4.0 Released" as "terminator2000" or "skynet."

Re:I am legend vs terminator (1)

martas (1439879) | more than 5 years ago | (#26965827)

but that would be appropriate, since as a government spy i can assure you that BASH 4.1 will indeed have the code name skynet.

Benefits of Telecommuting (1)

tedgyz (515156) | more than 5 years ago | (#26965367)

Besides the "clothing is optional" benefit, working from home greatly limits exposure to contagions.

Although going to the grocery store and seeing the checkout clerk wipe her nose is hard to avoid.

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