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Newly Developed RNA-Based Vaccine Could Offer Lifelong Protection From the Flu

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the one-shot-to-rule-them-all dept.

Medicine 156

An anonymous reader writes "A new experimental flu vaccine made out of messenger RNA that may work for life is now being developed. German researchers said on Sunday that the vaccine, made of the genetic material that controls the production of proteins, protected animals against influenza and, unlike traditional vaccines, it may work for life and can potentially be manufactured quickly enough to stop a pandemic (abstract)."

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Or... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42099625)

Mutate you into some sort of strange half-man/half-flu monstrosity. 50/50. Could go either way.

Re:Or... (0)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 2 years ago | (#42099657)

Or? It could replicate like DUPLICATE STORIES on Slashdot!

Re:Or... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42099683)

So, what you're saying is that it is a self boosting story [slashdot.org] ?

Re:Or... (3, Informative)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#42099757)

So, what you're saying is that it is a self boosting story [slashdot.org] ?

Not the same. The Ars article is a generic piece about some implications in terms of herd immunity of 'self boosting' vaccines. The current Fine Article is about a specific type of vaccine that would be long lived (if it lives up to what the researchers have found in lab animals). This flu virus would fit the definition of a 'self boosting' virus but it's not really what the first article was discussing.

Sometimes subtle things make a difference.

I'm surprised they managed to get the RNA into cells to the point where the proteins were transcribed. This technique may have many more uses than just vaccines. Interesting stuff.

Re:Or... (3, Informative)

wierd_w (1375923) | about 2 years ago | (#42099923)

It's possible they used a different capsid structure to deliver the payload, and delivered the RNA that way.

There is a whole class of viruses that deposit RNA instead of DNA. It isn't all that new.

In typical slashdot tradition, I did not read the article; if they are using some other mechanism besides a virus capsid to deliver the RNA, that would indeed be novel.

Even more novel still, would be an epigenetic approcah that alters the way human cytoplasm interacts with influenza mRNA, preventing "expected" synthesis by having cytoplasmic cofactors influence expression. (Happens with a lot of nuclear DNA sequences already.)

Still, all of those systems are sufficiently new as scientific fields that experimenting on humans is potentially quite risky. Epigentics is absurdly new, as is proteomics.

Not to say they aren't potentially viable, just not prudent to seriously pursue in humans at this time.

Re:Or... (3, Informative)

Guppy (12314) | about 2 years ago | (#42099981)

It's possible they used a different capsid structure to deliver the payload, and delivered the RNA that way.

They didn't. From what I can tell, it's naked mRNA, stabilized by associating it with Protamines [wikipedia.org] (Arginine-rich nucleoproteins found in sperm, which serve a histone-like function in packing genetic material).

In typical slashdot tradition, I did not read the article; if they are using some other mechanism besides a virus capsid to deliver the RNA, that would indeed be novel.

:P

Not a self-boosting vaccine (2)

Guppy (12314) | about 2 years ago | (#42099841)

Or? It could replicate like DUPLICATE STORIES on Slashdot!

The Abstract and Medical Daily link don't give enough information to give me the full story, but this does not appear to be related in any way to the previous Slashdot Self-Boosting vaccine story (using viruses capable of persisting in latency as carriers).

This is a mRNA-based vaccine, of which there are currently no commercially available examples in existence. The vaccine material itself should be degraded and eliminated in very short order, with no self-replication and no persistant "self-boosting" effect; the duration of immunity in humans appears to be merely conjecture on the part of the Medical Daily writers.

Re:Or... (5, Funny)

Culture20 (968837) | about 2 years ago | (#42099775)

strange half-man/half-flu monstrosity

How's that work? A man that constantly seeks to deposit his genetic material into others with a side effect of replication? That's 100% man!

Re:Or... (1, Funny)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | about 2 years ago | (#42100007)

How you doin'?

Re:Or... (1)

jd2112 (1535857) | about 2 years ago | (#42102007)

Being Slashdot, I expected 'turn us all into zombies' instead of man/flu hybrids.

Re:Or... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42100107)

Ugg, we've seen this before. Bring on the zombies.

http://www.amazon.com/Feed-Newsflesh-Book-Mira-Grant/dp/0316081051/

Re:Or... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42100807)

Should cast Jeff Goldblum for the title role of The Flu.

Flu Cure (1)

binarylarry (1338699) | about 2 years ago | (#42099633)

Or Zombie epidemic kickstarter?

What Could Possibly Go Wrong ?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42099689)

After much of the population has been vaccinated with this, some mutation will occur with a new virus strain or something and this will rapidly destroy you from the inside out. It could attack your brain and body chemistry in ways not even considered. How is this not GMO Humans?

Re:What Could Possibly Go Wrong ?? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42099851)

After much of the population has been vaccinated with this, some mutation will occur with a new virus strain or something and this will rapidly destroy you from the inside out. It could attack your brain and body chemistry in ways not even considered. How is this not GMO Humans?

Welcome to Slashdot, Ms. McCarthy.

Re:What Could Possibly Go Wrong ?? (2)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 2 years ago | (#42103659)

It's new so lots of things could go wrong, I seriously doubt your scenario is one of them.

How is this not GMO Humans?

Not a fan of cannibalisim, so I couldn't care less.

DO NOT WANT.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42099691)

.... I like sick days.

Re:DO NOT WANT.... (1)

Trepidity (597) | about 2 years ago | (#42099863)

You know that you don't have to actually be sick to take sick days?

Re:DO NOT WANT.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42099909)

With an ID as low as 597 you'll be taking a dead day soon!

Re:DO NOT WANT.... (1)

jamesh (87723) | about 2 years ago | (#42102385)

You know that you don't have to actually be dead to take dead days?

Re:DO NOT WANT.... (4, Informative)

CRCulver (715279) | about 2 years ago | (#42099949)

You know that you don't have to actually be sick to take sick days?

In Finland (and possibly the other Nordic countries whose welfare states served as a model for Finland's) you don't get a sick day unless you visit your neighbourhood's clinic in the morning and get a doctor to sign off on the sick day. On the plus side, you get paid for the day.

Re:DO NOT WANT.... (2)

LordLucless (582312) | about 2 years ago | (#42099967)

Same in Australia. Except that the vast majority of doctors will just go "yeah, whatever" and give you a medical certificate. On one occasion, I've gone into a clinic on a work day, and the first thing the doctor said was "how long do you need off?"

Re:DO NOT WANT.... (1)

klingers48 (968406) | about 2 years ago | (#42102533)

That's not 100% correct. It's the culture here but many workplaces in Australia will (dependent on award and individual conditions) give you a minimum of say, 3-5 days a year out of your yearly allocated 10-20 where you don't need a certificate. Providing it's not more than 1 or 2 days back-to-back.

Re:DO NOT WANT.... (1)

LordLucless (582312) | about 2 years ago | (#42102593)

Yeah, but that's tangential to my point. The point I was making is that, even if you're nominally required to prove your illness, the system's held in so much contempt that circumventing it's trivial.

Re:DO NOT WANT.... (2)

Trepidity (597) | about 2 years ago | (#42100023)

True, though in the Nordic countries you typically get ~6 weeks' vacation anyway, so there's less incentive to misuse sick days. It's mainly in the US where you'd want to, and there, they can't require you to see a doctor, because you might not even have health insurance.

Re:DO NOT WANT.... (4, Interesting)

sandytaru (1158959) | about 2 years ago | (#42100087)

Unfortunately, some of the more abusive low level employers still require a doctor's note anyway. One notorious telemarketing company in my town almost didn't give a dude his sick days because he didn't call in every day he was sick - the guy was in the hospital. It was only when the guy got the hospital itself off that they grudgingly gave him his time.

Compare this to my current office, where if you so much as sneeze the boss looks at you with narrowed eyes and asks if you'd rather telecommute that day, rather than risk infecting the entire office.

Re:DO NOT WANT.... (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | about 2 years ago | (#42101031)

True, though in the Nordic countries you typically get ~6 weeks' vacation anyway, so there's less incentive to misuse sick days. It's mainly in the US where you'd want to, and there, they can't require you to see a doctor, because you might not even have health insurance.

Why couldn't they require you to see a doctor? How is having or not having health insurance relevant? If you're a salary worker, it seems perfectly valid to confirm you actually are sick. If you're hourly, you don't get paid when you're sick, so faking being sick is only a way to get laid off sooner if you do it too often.

Re:DO NOT WANT.... (2)

Trepidity (597) | about 2 years ago | (#42101113)

If the company's willing to pay for the confirmation, then I agree, it seems valid. But not otherwise.

Re:DO NOT WANT.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42103597)

It isn't valid. it creates an additional layer of bureaucracy and mistrust. In Germany a Dr. note is required on the 3rd consecutive day, which seems certainly more fair and may perhaps encourage someone to seek help for a more serious illness. What a waste of time, money, and trust to require someone with a 1 or 2 day cold to see a doctor. god fuck you and your asshole country.

Re:DO NOT WANT.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42100273)

In Canada you just visit your doc, tell him you're not up to par, he pushes a trial packet of pills - whatever flavour of the day, sometimes you get lucky and it's a banned-in-the-USA antidepressant - and you play side-effects roulette at home.

Re:DO NOT WANT.... (1)

tragedy (27079) | about 2 years ago | (#42100277)

Policies like that are just so stupid. I remember my University had a policy like that for being excused for classes (those classes that actually cared about attendance in the first place, anyway). The one time I truly felt sick enough to need to do that I ended up trudging uphill through snow in high winds in freezing weather to health services, where I got to sit waiting for over an hour so they could look at me and perform some pointless tests and tell me that I should rest and get plenty of fluids. With all the time I wasted doing that, I should have just gone to class. I wouldn't have gotten any benefit out of it, but I didn't get any benefit out of going to health services either.

Re:DO NOT WANT.... (2)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 2 years ago | (#42101427)

In the United States it is wise to call in sick and come in the next day with sunburn (in summer) or raccoon face (from ski googles, in winter) just so the boss knows you aren't afraid of him and can replace the job before he can have your password disabled.

Bonus points telling the boss you aren't going to do any work the day after your sick day because you are so hung-over. Doubly true if he's a recovering alcoholic or has a religious objection to drinking.

Make sure the bastard knows his place.

If this works and is distributed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42099743)

Proof that it's not more profitable to treat than cure.

If this is quietly dropped then it will add to the conspiracy theory that it's more profitable to treat than cure.

Re:If this works and is distributed... (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | about 2 years ago | (#42099873)

It is more profitable to treat than cure, but the flu is serious fucking business. The media treats each new flu variant as a bigger deal than it needs to be. In most years, flu deaths will generally be young children and the elderly with poor immune systems, the same as any other year. But we never know when a given strain will be like the 1918 flu, infect 27% of the population and kill 3% of the population quickly. The next time it could be worse.

The Black Death killed a much higher 17% of the population, but it took over 2 years to do so.

For other diseases, the medical industry will still likely focus on selling drugs that treat symptoms because companies want to turn a profit. But there are organizations like the WHO that make the flu a big priority because they don't want to see millions die.

Re:If this works and is distributed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42100313)

That'll change soon. There's supposed to be a cap on the number of people on the planet and unless governments want to be seen taking people out into the streets and shooting them the reduction will have to be done through an engineered pandemic.

Re:If this works and is distributed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42100389)

Ha! I love it when that's trotted out every couple of years. It gets funnier every time.

zombies? (5, Funny)

WillgasM (1646719) | about 2 years ago | (#42099761)

Are we seriously trying to bring about the zombie apocalypse now?

Re:zombies? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42099787)

LOL, I think.

Or maybe it's just sad because "zombies!" was the first thing that went through my brain when I too saw this story...

Re:zombies? (1)

BenSchuarmer (922752) | about 2 years ago | (#42100117)

If the alternative is a world without twinkies, maybe a zombie apocalypse wouldn't be so bad.

Re:zombies? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42100217)

But could we withstand a zombie apocolypse whithout twinkies?

Re:zombies? (1)

dead_user (1989356) | about 2 years ago | (#42100323)

I never realized Zombieland was foreshadowing. :)~

Does this remind anyone else... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42099875)

... of the lead-in to I am Legend?

area of active research (2)

Trepidity (597) | about 2 years ago | (#42099881)

Afaik this class of RNA-based vaccines is interesting but still very much at the research stage. There's been a large area of research on whether they could play a role in fighting cancer [hindawi.com] , as another example.

Great idea .... (2, Insightful)

DaMattster (977781) | about 2 years ago | (#42099919)

But here is why it will never happen. The world's pharmaceutical companies that make money through yearly flu vaccinations will be fighting this thing tooth and nail. The profit loss from effectively eradicating the flu virus stands to be in the billions. Big Pharma will try and get it banned, labeled as unsafe, or do some other shifty thing to see that this idea is buried.

Re:Great idea .... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42100165)

This is why it is being done in Germany. Countries with socialized health care systems are putting a lot of funding into permanent cures.
It is why when I graduate I will probably end up going to another country to work for a while. If you want to want to do permanent cures for disease then the USA is not currently the place to do it, the profit motive of medicine in the USA basically works against it happening.

Re:Great idea .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42100655)

and the conspiracy nuts will reply that is why the labs in germany will have a mysterious accident releasing a super virus and it will be linked back to the vaccine.

Re:Great idea .... (3, Informative)

Sulphur (1548251) | about 2 years ago | (#42101417)

This is why it is being done in Germany. Countries with socialized health care systems are putting a lot of funding into permanent cures.
It is why when I graduate I will probably end up going to another country to work for a while. If you want to want to do permanent cures for disease then the USA is not currently the place to do it, the profit motive of medicine in the USA basically works against it happening.

An example:

Albert Sabin was ready for large-scale tests, but he could not carry them out in the United States. A rival polio vaccine developed by Dr. Jonas Salk (1914–1995) in 1954 was then being tested for its ability to prevent the disease among American school children. Salk's approach was to create a vaccine using a killed form of the virus.

Some foreign virologists, especially those from the Soviet Union, were convinced of the superiority of the Sabin vaccine. It was first tested widely in Russia, Latvia, Estonia, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary, and East Germany from 1957 to 1959. A much smaller group of persons living in Sweden, England, Singapore, and the United States received Sabin's vaccine by the end of 1959.

Read more: http://www.notablebiographies.com/Ro-Sc/Sabin-Albert.html#ixzz2DNmMbwbD [notablebiographies.com]

Re:Great idea .... (4, Interesting)

blueg3 (192743) | about 2 years ago | (#42100359)

The guys that sell the current vaccines, sure. Their competitors, not so much. Permanent cures are good business because they're high-value products. You can charge a lot for them, you can get a lot of people to buy them, you can get the state to mandate them, you can get the state to pay for them, etc. The current flu vaccines aren't some endless gravy train -- they require a lot of work every year to actually get out the door and people (and governments) get pissy when you're late on delivery. A develop-once vaccine that's you can almost guarantee a sale of to each new person born is nice business, especially if it lets you screw your competitor out of yearly flu vaccine sales.

The pharma industry isn't some monolithic ideal conspiracy. They have joint goals, but they're also made up of competing entities.

If your claim was true, we wouldn't see companies continuing to sell vaccines and develop new vaccines that provide cures to diseases. But we do.

Re:Great idea .... (0)

PRMan (959735) | about 2 years ago | (#42100461)

America already eradicated most of the world's diseases, or did I miss something?

Re:Great idea .... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42100663)

America already eradicated most of the world's diseases, or did I miss something?

An education.

Re:Great idea .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42103713)

Does not matter, the US government eradicated the Screw Worm back in the '80s. I can put up with government (corporate) greed as long as they make the bugs that lay eggs in me die. I would prefer both, but given the options I would much rather have worms like those dead. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cochliomyia_hominivorax

Re:Great idea .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42100695)

yes, history [wikipedia.org] evidently [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Great idea .... (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 2 years ago | (#42101165)

Drug companies hate the flu vaccine. It's hard to make, expensive and the price is pretty much set by the governments. When we run short on vaccines or there is a production problem congress hauls the drug manufacturers CEOs in to chew them out in public so they can distract the public from whatever fiscal nightmare they've most recently sucked the country into.

Drug companies make money off of things like Viagra. It's cheap, easy to make, involves sex, no one dies, has a near unlimited shelf life and doesn't have Jenny McCarthy making her idiotic appearances on morning shows misinforming housewives everywhere about what it does.

Re:Great idea .... (1)

zippthorne (748122) | about 2 years ago | (#42101621)

Drug companies make money off of things like Viagra. It's cheap, easy to make, involves sex, no one dies, has a near unlimited shelf life and doesn't have Jenny McCarthy making her idiotic appearances on morning shows misinforming housewives everywhere about what it does.

Viagra's a good example. Tell us again what they were researching when they discovered it...

Re:Great idea .... (1)

tsotha (720379) | about 2 years ago | (#42102591)

What difference does it make what they were researching?

Re:Great idea .... (2)

Sique (173459) | about 2 years ago | (#42103725)

It does make a difference, because Viagra is most dangerous for people who have the most reason to take it - older men. Sildafenil was researched as a blood pressure and heart medicamentation, and it can be deadly if you have a heart precondition, as most of the elderly people have.

Re:Great idea .... (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 2 years ago | (#42101213)

I really don't understand what your cynicism is based on. All established industries have an interest in preventing better products from replacing theirs, but how effective is that usually? I don't drive a horse and buggy.

Specific to the pharmecutical industry, if it were possible for them to prevent effective cures, why would we have new effective vaccines ever? HPV, chicken pox, those are vaccines they didn't have when I was a kid. Tylenol would have an interest in keeping kids getting chicken pox, yet they and others don't appear to have even tried to stop that. All the pharmecuticals' bottom lines would have benefitted from them selling treatment for cervical cancer, the HPV vaccine is much cheaper, yet we have that.

Big Pharma may try to get it banned, they certainly could hold it up. The RIAA and MPAA are fighting hard to keep their obsolete industries going, and are doing it fairly effectively. But "It will never happen because they'll lose money" sounds way too tinfoil hat to me. Especially when there's a lot of money to be made selling it, and not all pharmecuticals sell the current flu shots.

Re:Great idea .... (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about 2 years ago | (#42101261)

Poe's Law strikes again. I actually can't tell if you're serious or if you're doing a parody of the "Big Pharma wants to keep us sick" conspiracy-mongering. If the former, you should be aware that profit margins on common vaccines are razor-thin. If the latter ... well played.

Re:Great idea .... (1)

westlake (615356) | about 2 years ago | (#42101653)

But here is why it will never happen. The world's pharmaceutical companies that make money through yearly flu vaccinations will be fighting this thing tooth and nail.

This is so stupid.

Big pharma begins with Bayer and Aspirin.

Big pharma has become bigger and stronger with every advance in medicine.

Most of the victims of the 1918 flu were healthy young adults. Most polio victims were children.

Solve problems like these and you keep tens of millions, hundreds of millions, of customers in the health care market for another half century or more. The return on investment is worth every penny.

Re:Great idea .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42102653)

Yeah, they would only be able to sell 7 billion of these things. With a tiny market like that, what would be the point?

And the moment some gets sick (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42099939)

After taking said vaccine, it will be deemed a failure and its back to the drawing board.
Lets face it people, there is no cure or real prevention for this stuff.
Its just another industry trying to maintain its existance.
And it seems with every passing decade, the totalitarian enforcement of these matters is rearing its ugly head in societies policies.
As if we don't have enough strife to argue about or propaganda of fears to profit from.

Flu prevention will NEVER happen.
Attempting to control the population from cradle to grave WILL be attemtped.

Once someone gets ill the jig is up.
And many will disbelieve in the enforcement of mass vacination.

You want to sell us our pipe dreams, then bring it.

Here is the catch: (3, Insightful)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 2 years ago | (#42099943)

If the vaccine works in people,

That is the catch. It has not worked so far in people, or animals for that matter. But $scientist speculates it might. Till more data comes through we should soak the RNA in snake oil before freeze drying it.

Re:Here is the catch: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42100357)

I only hope they test it on the researchers first. We've had enough shitty vax pushed lately. Anybody left should be up for a round of Gardasil.

Re:Here is the catch: (4, Informative)

Grayhand (2610049) | about 2 years ago | (#42100371)

If the vaccine works in people,

That is the catch. It has not worked so far in people, or animals for that matter. But $scientist speculates it might. Till more data comes through we should soak the RNA in snake oil before freeze drying it.

I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss it. I've been following this for a while now and the approach is sound. The standard ways viruses develop resistance simply won't work with this approach. It'd be a non specific antiviral so if should work on any virus. Sadly prions would likely be immune but not viruses. It's at least a decade off and maybe more but there is a lot of promise. There's reason to think viruses and bacterial infections will be treatable or preventable within the next 20 years. In the meantime we are loosing the war so we need out of the box thinking because millions will die while we are waiting for real treatments to be developed.

Re:Here is the catch: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42102197)

What war are we losing? The amount of humans on this planet is still growing very fast. If you want to let people live long and healthy lives, contraception is a much better medicine for the population as a whole.

Re:Here is the catch: (1)

Your.Master (1088569) | about 2 years ago | (#42102281)

The war isn't for more humans, it's for fewer viruses. We're not trying to cure disease so we can increase the population, we're trying to cure disease because it sucks to be sick. There's nothing that says we can't cure disease AND promote contraception.

Re:Here is the catch: (1)

suutar (1860506) | about 2 years ago | (#42100409)

actually, the quote says it has protected animals.

Re:Here is the catch: (2)

wile_e8 (958263) | about 2 years ago | (#42100601)

The problem is that you assume he read the summary. With the "$scientists" stuck in there, this guy clearly read "vaccine" in the title and rushed in to make his screed against Big Pharma.

Re:Here is the catch: (2)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about 2 years ago | (#42101217)

With the "$scientists" stuck in there, this guy clearly read "vaccine" in the title and rushed in to make his screed against Big Pharma.

That was the first thing I thought when I read the post too, but on reflection I'm going to be generous and assume he's using the Perl-type "$descriptively_named_variable" syntax which is pretty common in geek discussions.

Re:Here is the catch: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42100707)

You're right, it isn't done yet so obviously it's a lie and will never work. Thanks for pointing that out.

Re:Here is the catch: (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 2 years ago | (#42101297)

That is the catch. It has not worked so far in people, or animals for that matter. But $scientist speculates it might.

Slashdot: news for nerds who evidently aren't interested in scientific research?

I suppose "nerd" has come to mean "I got an iphone 5!!!!" in popular usage, but I expect better of slashdot. This is a promising start and is very interesting. Even if it doesn't work in humans for the flu, it's still groundbreaking research in a very important subject area.

Till more data comes through we should soak the RNA in snake oil before freeze drying it.

NO!!! RNA is super unstable! You can't even put it in untreated water! Snake oil OR freeze drying it will render it completely useless! Hell, if you LOOK at RNA the wrong way, it will fall apart.

Re:Here is the catch: (1)

Chrontius (654879) | about 2 years ago | (#42103663)

I'm told working with RNA's a bitch and a half; while bleach will clean up (sterilize) any stray bacterial cells, a lab handling RNA has to be washed down with an eye-wateringly expensive RNAse cleaner to prevent any stray molecules from contaminating your sample and being amplified into the billions of copies by your next round of PCR. While you probably won't get a 1:1 copy of the foreign RNA, you'll ruin any hope of making a specifically selective test, or getting clean data from your next step. Good shotgun sequencers should be able to isolate the foreign sequence and output two strong signals instead of one, but my university didn't have one at the time; "sequencer" was a grad student's job description, not a piece of equipment. (That's changed recently) [nanoporetech.com]

In biological systems, DNA is usually more robust. Chemical or enzymatic attack? DNA is tougher. Funnily enough, RNA is more resistant to UV, so you can't use that to sterilize a lab bench without enough of a dose that it starts damaging plastic, too. RNA may be easier to melt, or "unzip" too, but it's still a pain in the ass to get every last bit of it.

If you mean storing a high-quality sample and guaranteeing it'll be intact, that may be rather dicey - but the curious can check out a forum post I found on it. [bio.net] Also, I recall something about if RNA has -OH groups and is unstable in alkaline environments, it could be autocatalytic; this wasn't a problem when I was studying to be a gene jock - we stuck to working with DNA.

Do what they want, as long as they... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42099991)

never make vaccinations mandatory. But with anything, there will be side effects.

I figure getting sick, non-fatally, is always like a reset function. You know, like a step back to take a look at your life.

Re:Do what they want, as long as they... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42101283)

If you want universal healthcare, you can expect that "universally mandatory vaccinations" will be required.

Why? Because vaccinations save money in the long run. If you want society to pay for your healthcare, then you owe it to society to take good care of yourself, and that includes proper vaccinations where the risk of serious side effect is low. Yes, some people will get sick or have adverse reactions; and yes, that will be totally tragic; and NO, the government will not give a shit because if they're paying the bills, it costs a lot less to have 1 million people sick or dead from adverse reactions than it does to have 300 million sick or dead from no vaccinations.

Re:Do what they want, as long as they... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42101581)

What a horrible idea. People shouldn't have to forego their personal beliefs in order to get universal health care. It doesn't matter what those personal beliefs are, whether it be they don't trust the vaccination with which to begin, or their religious beliefs speak out against vaccinations for whatever reason.

That'd be more than just vaccinations.

What about mandatory birth control to keep costs down for unplanned pregnancies? Or, if someone gets an unplanned pregnancy, they pay for all the medical bills themselves. Proof that it was a planned pregnancy would have to be documented.

What about mandatory prostate cancer screenings? If someone doesn't get the screenings regularly, UHC wouldn't pay for the treatment.

What about mandatory breast cancer screenings?

Etc.

The most the government should do is to provide the opportunity to get vaccinations for those who want them. They should provide all the statistics and associated risks with receiving a vaccination. Under no circumstance should the government dictate that if someone doesn't receive a vaccination, they lose all their health care. It's just as bad as the concept of the government banning too large of sodas; banning restaurants from using transfats (it's a sometimes food after all); or even banning people from government employment because they smoke or drink, despite it having nothing to do with the job at hand (not health care related profession).

Perform a search on Google: soda ban
Perform a search on Google: restaurant transfats
Perform a search on Google: government employees ban smoking outside hours

I for one want a government to take care of us, but with a light touch. I don't want them dictating every non-criminal decision we can or cannot do.

That is bad news! (2)

Razgorov Prikazka (1699498) | about 2 years ago | (#42100017)

In these modern day's there are only two breaks a wage-slave has in the last bits of the year: winter break and the flu...
Before you know it the boss will "offer" you this for free because it is "good for your health" and BANG! You only have the winter break.
That means that you HAVE to break a leg or stick a skying pole in your left eye in order to squeeze out a little more... So in the long term it is actually bad for your health! Skying is dumb, and ending up at an ER room (that looks like a Kabul market after a bomb attack) by accident is even more stupid. But when actually forced to do so by your boss... man what time do we live in? :-D

Re:That is bad news! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42100133)

Wage slave could also unite in, ehmm, them Unions, you know, fight for more vacations, go on strike and that ...

Re:That is bad news! (1)

bmo (77928) | about 2 years ago | (#42100593)

So you've never called in while on the bike path on a bright sunny spring morning and said "It's a bright sunny day and I'm on the bike path and I'm calling in well"?

Mental health days. Take them.

--
BMO

Re:That is bad news! (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 2 years ago | (#42101493)

Much better is call in sick 'cough cough' then show-up the next day with sunburn/snowburn and a hangover.

Re:That is bad news! (1)

bmo (77928) | about 2 years ago | (#42101553)

>Much better is call in sick 'cough cough' then show-up the next day with sunburn/snowburn and a hangover.

When you call in "healthy" you don't have to worry about this.

"I'm on the bike path. I'm not coming in. Seeya tomorrow."

What can they do? You didn't lie.

--
BMO

Re:That is bad news! (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 2 years ago | (#42102005)

Spoken like a true 1%-er. Let me guess, you've never had to fill out an unexcused absence slip at your employer in your entire working life, eh?

Re:That is bad news! (1)

bmo (77928) | about 2 years ago | (#42102125)

>Spoken like a true 1%-er.

Yeah, because you can discern all that from me calling in not being sick.

>Let me guess, you've never had to fill out an unexcused absence slip at your employer in your entire working life, eh?

Actually, no, I haven't, not even when I worked retail or pumping gas.

Fuck you.

--
BMO - a bike snob who can't afford the bikes he's snobby about.

Re:That is bad news! (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 2 years ago | (#42102461)

"Fuck you" - yeah, that's pretty much the response I expected from the privileged. How about when you come home with a paycheck that's eight hours short? You possess luxuries you aren't even aware of. Rich prick.

Re:That is bad news! (1)

bmo (77928) | about 2 years ago | (#42102471)

> How about when you come home with a paycheck that's eight hours short?

It's called budgeting for it.

Sometimes personal time is worth a lot more than a day's pay.

>rich prick

Yeah. Whatever. You're just an asshole.

--
BMO

Re:That is bad news! (1)

tsotha (720379) | about 2 years ago | (#42102659)

I'm so sick of this "1%" bullshit. If he has a boss he's probably not in the top 1% of the income scale. He may be in the top 40%. He's probably there because he worked hard to get into college and then worked hard in college and works hard at his job.

Not everyone who doesn't live under a bridge is "privileged".

And let me echo his "fuck you".

Re:That is bad news! (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 2 years ago | (#42101929)

Excuse me, but what the hell are you talking about? Did the rest of us miss out on some sort of conversation you were having and you just sort of continued it here?

Quite unexpected for some (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42100157)

I expect some slashdotters will be surprised that a drug was developed that permanently prevents a disease. "Cures aren't profitable, the money is in chronic treatment", or so they say. Of course, I expect these researchers will become quite wealthy if this pans out. (Or go the Salk route and practically give it away.)

...what's the point? (0)

dacarr (562277) | about 2 years ago | (#42100177)

I'll be frank, I've never fully understood the basic concept of a flu vaccine.

Sure, flu season comes around, and a lot of people come down with the $animal plague. A few die from complications, but by and large, we get over it.

Enter into it, here, the current vaccine. It protects against a prior strain, but that leaves any new strain open to attack without reprisal. People get the flu, accordingly.

It's not to say it isn't completely without benefit, as I do know a few people who take it to keep from getting ill, and it's mostly because they have respiratory issues. But really, aren't we just protecting ourselves from something that really is more of a bogeyman that makes us miserable for a few weeks out of the year?

Re:...what's the point? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42100293)

Sure, flu season comes around, and a lot of people come down with the $animal plague. A few die from complications, but by and large, we get over it.

It's in no small part because of flu vaccines that this is how it is. Less than a hundred years ago, influenza was Very Serious Business. In World War I it killed about as many people as the actual fighting did.

Re:...what's the point? (1)

bmo (77928) | about 2 years ago | (#42100503)

>I'll be frank, I've never fully understood the basic concept of a flu vaccine.

So your entire argument is based around your ignorance about the subject.

Nice.

--
BMO

Another misleading headline... (4, Interesting)

slew (2918) | about 2 years ago | (#42100405)

I can't really see how this technique could offer lifelong protection from the flu, the current encarnation currently does not and it's not clear how it would all work.

First of all, the vaccine they developed is a "hardened" mRNA that encodes the manufacture of a particular varient one of the two proteins (hemagglutinin or HA) that are found on the surface of a flu virus (the other one is neuraminidase or NA). In this case they chose the recent H1 part of the H1N1 varient was recently going around. This mRNA tricks the host's own cells to produce this H1 protein which triggers the immune response. In contrast, the "traditional" flu shot just has HA and NA proteins (usually made from dead flu viruses grown in eggs, but sometimes made in labs) in it along with some other "stuff" like adjuvents, to amp up the immune response.

Unfortunatly this particular vaccine is like traditional vaccines in that it primes the immune system to look for HA/NA proteins, and these are the flu proteins that mutate all the time, so it would just provide life-line protection for one particular strain (and some close relatives), kinda like the current flu shot.

The current breakthrough was in "hardening" the mRNA so that it isn't dissolved in you blood. These researchers discovered a protein called protamine can bind with the mRNA so that it can make it into enough cells so that the cellular mechanims can transcribe it into the encoded protein into H1.

There is some promise that this technique could be easily adapted to target part of the flu surface proteins that don't mutate as much (whereas the current technique is mostly about refining HA/NA proteins so might not be applicable to something else) but that lifelong protection from the flu using a technique like this seems like a dream. I don't think anyone knows how to do that yet, although many folks are working on it and most of them aren't just relying on just stimulating a human immune response.

On the other hand, as with most hype, there is a kernel of something there. The current crop of modern flu-treatments (like tamiflu) target the NA part of the flu virus (technically they are neuraminidase inhibitors, so they interfere with part of the virus reproduction cycle). Unfortuantly the NA part is the faster mutating protein and there have been cases where mutation in the NA part of the virus can circumvent these modern treatments. The HA part mutates more slowly and as I mentioned above, this particular treatment has been steered to target the HA part. Who knows, maybe you'd get a vaccine with mRNA for every HA subtype they know about***. Of course that is until there is another mutation. I'm guessing that on this basis they've annointed this new thing as having the potential "lifelong" protection from the flu. As for how this would be significantly different than just giving someone a regular flu shot with all the known HA subtypes, I don't see it. Seems like a bit of hype to me compared to what other folks are working on (e.g., specific artificial antibodies that target all HA subtypes).

*** AFAIK, there are 17 types of HA, although viruses that infect humans don't appear to have that many variations, so maybe you could get away with just H1, H2, H3, H5 (the ones known to infect humans).

Concern? (1)

gr8_phk (621180) | about 2 years ago | (#42100441)

Researchers say that RNA vaccines are particularly attractive because, unlike proposed DNA vaccines, it is impossible for RNA to be spliced into the human genome, therefore cutting the risk that it could disrupt normal genetic behavior.

So they do realize the danger of making heritable genetic changes. And then at the end they suggest giving it to children. How about just giving it to people who already reproduced? That would include old people who are some of the most at risk from the flu and possibly enough middle-aged people to stop it altogether. I'm all for eradication, but still sceptical of putting even RNA into everyone in the population. OTOH they're a long way from that still.

Re: Concern? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42102813)

Don't be silly. The whole point of DNA and RNA vaccines is to get them into cells where they co-opt the cells' machinery to make viral proteins. Those cells "infected" with the nucleic acid vaccines are destroyed by the immune system as the cells present the foreign proteins.

The amount of this genetic material that gets integrated into the host cells' DNA is very small, kind of rare and random, but it would be most likely to do so in cells near the injection site (in a muscle), and not in say the brain, or the reproductive cells.

Does this count? (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about 2 years ago | (#42100723)

If it keeps you from getting the flu but eventually kills off your cells, does that count as 'works for life?'

Missing the point - CHEAP (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42100979)

The point of this new vaccine technology appears to primarily be one of cost. The idea is instead of vaccinating with dead / attenuated virus, or injecting viral proteins into someone to stimulate an immune response and thereby immunity, you can use RNA that will express the viral proteins in human cells (thus amplify the signal compared to injecting viral proteins directly) and get the immune system to generate antibodies against that viral protein. The RNA is designed to make only a part of the viral protein that is conserved, so that the antibodies will hopefully recognize a multitude of similar viruses - the reason that you have to get a flu shot every year is your body chose a site on a viral protein that is not conserved (which is most of it, thanks evolution), so last year's antibodies won't recognize this year's flu virus.

But the nice thing about the system is (1) it is cheap to make RNA, especially compared to purified proteins, and (2) the RNA can be turned into a dehydrated powder and stored without any special conditions (i.e. cold and only for X amount of time), unlike virus- or protein-based vaccines. Cheaper vaccines means you can immunize more people for less money - but also animals like pigs which are a reservoir of flu virus. Biggest problem with getting rid of viruses like flu is they get to hide out in non-human hosts, mutate, and come back to infect people whose immune systems can no longer recognize the virus. Smallpox, which as far as we know only infected humans, couldn't do this, so once enough people were immunized, the virus had no one to infect and went extinct (outside of a couple research lab freezers).

Re:Missing the point - CHEAP (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42102225)

I would have thought the most important point was life long immunity to flu virus. I'd be willing to give at least a buck fifty for that.

Safety Reason (1)

SnappyCanvas (2769761) | about 2 years ago | (#42101115)

This has to be proven yet for the safety of the people. But it's a good thing there are studies like this that concerns people's health. That means we are aware and willing to discover new things for the benefit of all. I just hope this works well!

work for life? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42101277)

the current flu vaccines don't work

Captain Trips (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42101585)

Does this stuff protect against the engineered influenza [slashdot.org] that can kill over half the people on Earth?

Related to MIT discovery? (1)

Peaceful_Patriot (658116) | about 2 years ago | (#42103009)

I wonder if it is related to this [mit.edu] breakthrough by MIT last year. They developed an anti-viral drug which also targets RNA and should, theoretically, be effective against all viruses.
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