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Super-Vaccine For Flu In Development

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the just-what-i-wanted-for-christmas dept.

Biotech 165

Adam9 tipped us to a DailyMail article about the possibility of a revolutionary flu vaccine that could work against all strains of the Influenza A disease. This 'holy grail' of vaccines would work on everything from the annual 'winter flu' to the 'bird flu'. The best part is that just a few vaccinations may provide complete immunity, unlike the annual boosters are current defenses require. From the article: "The new jabs would be grown in huge vats of bacterial 'soup', with just two pints of liquid providing 10,000 doses of vaccine. Current flu vaccines focus on two proteins on the surface of the virus. However, these constantly mutate in a bid to fool the immune system, making it impossible for vaccine manufacturers to keep up with the creation of each new strain. The universal vaccines focus on a different protein called M2, which has barely changed during the last 100 years."

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165 comments

They did have a cure for flu (4, Funny)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 7 years ago | (#17400820)

But the formula was stored in a researchers gmail account.....

Re:They did have a cure for flu (1)

atomic777 (860023) | more than 7 years ago | (#17400968)

... but then they came to my office. The sheer concentration of flu-stricken people who don't seem to understand the concept of "sick day" (or can't afford to) and ventilation systems that seem to be designed to spread the virus around would have anyone sick in a matter of days.

Re:They did have a cure for flu (2, Funny)

bobsledbob (315580) | more than 7 years ago | (#17401222)

Well, you got to save that sick day for something else. I mean, at work you're just sick and miserable anyway, there's no difference if you've got a cold or not.

Around here (in the Rockies), when you take a sick day, they call it "powder flu" which quite coincidently comes around just after a big snow storm has hit.

unchanged protein (4, Insightful)

javilon (99157) | more than 7 years ago | (#17400828)

"The universal vaccines focus on a different protein called M2, which has barely changed during the last 100 years."

I bet it will change in the next 5 years...

Is a cure enough? (4, Insightful)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 7 years ago | (#17400944)

Having a cure is not enough to prevent the disease from happening. A concerted effort to suply the vaccine is also needed.

Smallpox etc seems to have been handled pretty well, yet TB - a totally curable disease - still kills more people than 'flu.

Re:Is a cure enough? (3, Interesting)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 7 years ago | (#17401200)

True, but this requires one shot - then you are protected for some short period of time. TB is bacterial and has no vaccine. Most of the patients are either drug users and/or have compromised immune systems (e.g. AIDS). Worse, the cure is a 6-9 month course of antibiotics. It is hard to consistently take antibiotics for 6 months even if you are well - a heroin addict can be much less reliable and may miss doses or abandon treatment. So now we have antibiotic resistant strains... etc.

In short, it's a much different problem. Hell, the flu even goes away on its own over 99% of the time. Frankly, I think that if we could cure AIDS, I think that TB would largely go along with it in the developed world.

Re:Is a cure enough? (4, Insightful)

DrYak (748999) | more than 7 years ago | (#17401938)

TB is bacterial
...and is therefore a little bit easier to cure, since we've had antibiotics for a longer time than anti-viral drugs, and since anti-viral drugs tend to be much more bug-specific than antibiotics.

and has no vaccine.


Guess what ? I *happen* to be vaccinated [wikipedia.org] against TB. There are vaccine against TB. It isn't as widely used in the USA is it was in eastern country in the past or still today in Africa. The main reason that it is less used in the western world is that TB isn't very prevalent, and therefor, TB vaccine is only given to people at risk.
(A less important reason is also aesthetic : adults and older children may have a small permanent scar at the point of injection).

Most of the patients are either drug users and/or have compromised immune systems (e.g. AIDS).

In the western world. The largest part of the patient are in third world countries. The TB is prevalent there because of poorer population and harder access to medication, lower quality of life, etc...

Worse, the cure is a 6-9 month course of antibiotics.
...which is on of the reason that TB is prevalent in the 3rd world and that there, vaccine is simpler and cheaper.

I think that TB would largely go along with it in the developed world.

No, as long as there is still a source were the bacteria can proliferate they'll still be there around and still find ways to travel back to your home. There are lot of disease that are clearly under control - with both vaccine and treatment available - but that are still not extinct, because they can proliferate in some animal population (not even in another human population living somewhere else).

The main reasons why there's still TB around are mainly the economic situation in counrties where it's prevalent.
(then there also some other smaller reason like the fact that the bacteria can hide in cavities where they're less accessible to drugs, and also they can stay dormant for a long time).

Re:Is a cure enough? (2, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 7 years ago | (#17402164)

TB is bacterial and has no vaccine
Every child in the UK is given the BCG vaccine against TB at school. Each school is visited for a few days every few years and every pupil in a certain age range is injected unless their parents opt them out. Before the widespread vaccinations took place, up to 25% of annual deaths were caused by TB (although typically the figure was closer to 10%). Now, less than 50 people die of it in the UK each year; it is effectively extinct here. A vaccination against the flu would likely have similar effects of the proliferation of the disease.

Re:Is a cure enough? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17402502)

As of this year Poole (in Dorset) is considered a low risk area and so that TB vaccine has become opt in here, I assume it is similar in other places in the UK with the exception of areas of substantial immigration. So I wont be vaccinated now but when I go to uni I expect I will get the vaccine as there is a much higher risk due to immigration from high risk countries.

Re:Is a cure enough? (4, Informative)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#17401784)

yet TB - a totally curable disease - still kills more people than 'flu.

      Umm, where did you get THAT little snippet of misinformation?

      TB is not totally curable - in fact we are seeing a huge increase in multi-resistant strains of this bacillus. You have to take up to 6 different antibiotics (rifampin, isoniazid, ethambutol, pyrazinamide, streptomycin and pyridoxine) and supplements during up to 6 months or more. There is poor compliance with the treatment, which makes this a disease that is very hard to cure. I would also argue that although TB and its complications might directly kill more people (the death rates are similar in the US, 0.6 per 100,000 for TB and 0,4 per 100,000 for influenza), the consequences of influenza - especially in the elderly, are usually devastating for quality of life and prognosis purposes.

Smallpox etc seems to have been handled pretty well, yet TB

      Also I must point out that smallpox is caused by a virus, while TB is a very slow growing bacterium. Not the same critter at all.

Outlook Grim (3, Funny)

soloport (312487) | more than 7 years ago | (#17401158)

In related news, the stock has plummeted for McAffee and Intuit as researchers discover a cure for all computer related viruses:
"The universal 'vaccine' focuses on a different program called Outlook, which has barely changed during the last 100 years."

Re:unchanged protein (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17401378)

Agreed. How do we know that once we start using this vaccine that the flu viruses won't mutate that particular protein in order to get around this immune system strategy?

Re:unchanged protein (1)

theGil (1010409) | more than 7 years ago | (#17401436)

"The universal vaccines focus on a different protein called M2, which has barely changed during the last 100 years." I bet it will change in the next 5 years...
I think your thought begs for elaboration. I thought the exact same thing (that it could change in the next several years) when I read the recap of the article. Though it has "barely changed" during the last 100 years, this doesn't mean it couldn't spontaneously change soon after the creation of the "universal" vaccine. Additionally, this could happen two different ways; the change could happen as a direct result of the new vaccine because the very nature of viruses forces them to evolve for survival, OR it could happen as a completely unrelated event (happening simply because it was already time for this particular protein to naturally evolve).

I hope we're wrong.

Re:unchanged protein (4, Informative)

CTachyon (412849) | more than 7 years ago | (#17402228)

the change could happen as a direct result of the new vaccine because the very nature of viruses forces them to evolve for survival, OR it could happen as a completely unrelated event (happening simply because it was already time for this particular protein to naturally evolve)

There's no such thing in nature. Proteins don't "decide" to evolve, and DNA doesn't "decide" to mutate. All evolution happens because of random mutations in DNA -- random in terms of where the mutation is, what the mutation does, and when the mutation occurs -- followed by the proliferation (or not) of that mutation due to natural selection.

(There are some minor exceptions to the randomness of mutation, such as alternative mRNA splicing [wikipedia.org] and certain regions of DNA that trip up the replication process, but they can be ignored for this discussion.)

In the case of influenza [wikipedia.org], mutations happen at an extremely rapid rate: the influenza genome is made of single-stranded RNA (no backup copy) and is copied by a viral transcriptase without the aid of any proofreading enzymes (no verification happens when copies are made). This means that the average mutation rate is roughly 1 per virus, on average. That's an insane mutation rate -- moreso since the genome of any RNA virus is almost 100% genes -- and it only works because influenza creates so many copies of itself in each infected cell.

Now, not knowing anything about the M2 protein's history except for what's in the article, the fact that the M2 protein has remained nearly the same for the last 100 years -- despite all these rapid mutations -- means that the dominant M2 protein is being strongly selected for. That means that viruses with a different M2 don't spread very well, as compared to viruses with the most popular M2. This suggests that, even if a newer vaccine causes the immune system to target only the currently popular M2, the viruses that escape the vaccine will be less effective than any influenza strain of the last 100 years.

(Of course, "worse for influenza" doesn't necessarily equate to "better for humans". It could be that the reason the current M2 is so popular is that it doesn't kill as many human hosts as the older M2s, which benefits both humans and influenza. But, given what the Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] says about M2's function, the smart money is that switching to the older M2 will impede the virus's ability to infect a cell, which is a win for humans.)

Re:unchanged protein (1)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 7 years ago | (#17402302)

I think Richard Dawkins remarked something like that if doctors would undestand evolution we wouldn't have a huge crisis of drug resistant bacteria in hospitals.

Do fix-alls really exist? (3, Insightful)

dada21 (163177) | more than 7 years ago | (#17400830)

I was contemplating vaccines and software patches and other items that constantly need updating and never really solve the problem and came up with a theory of selling reality -- do you ever want to sell a product that never needs updating or repairs or replacement? Is it anyone's goal to truly fix a problem forever?

One of my businesses is IT consulting, and we really do try to fix our customers problems for good -- when possible. We find that solving problems today ends up giving us more work tomorrow through referrals, etc. We even have a popular warranty where we always fix things that break again for free (even if we lose money on the net), even due to user error. Yet most consultants love the repeat business -- why fix something forever if you're sure that only temporarily patching a problem is enough?

Are there any vaccines or medical products that really do anything permanent? Is part of the reason for temporary cures or fixes just the basic realistic knowledge that temporary cures mean job security?

I don't trust anything that is sold as a "permanent fix" for a problem -- I don't know if we humans are capable of doing anything so self-sacrificial as that.

Re:Do fix-alls really exist? (1)

HMC CS Major (540987) | more than 7 years ago | (#17400996)

In the cancer realm, there is an increasing number of drugs like Avastin [cancertherapycenter.com] that have shown abilities to attack a wide variety of cancers such colon cancer [cancertherapycenter.com] and lung cancer [cancertherapycenter.com]. Indeed, products like Avastin seem to create complications (specifically, increased risk of complications of high blood pressure in the brain and a neurologic disorder), but the primary fix seems to be more important than the secondary complications. That is, while the 'permanent' fix is flawed and creates later problems, often the later problems are more easily addressed than the primary problem, even if it's not perfect.

Re:Do fix-alls really exist? (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#17401028)

Are there any vaccines or medical products that really do anything permanent?

The universal, permanent cure for all that ails you; and it only takes a single shot [wikipedia.org]

KFG

Re:Do fix-alls really exist? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17401068)

Casts used when mending broken bones. Is that permanent enough? How about stiches leaving scars? :)

Re:Do fix-alls really exist? (2, Insightful)

Watson Ladd (955755) | more than 7 years ago | (#17401096)

Do you see smallpox around anymore?

Re:Do fix-alls really exist? (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#17401564)

Do you see smallpox around anymore?

Yes, although they keep it in a vault. We might "need it, " for, ummmmmmmmmm, "something."

A friend of mine is one of those unfortunates who caught polio from the vacine; although that issue was certainly addressed long ago.

KFG

correlation != causation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17402244)

Diseases do burn themselves out, you know. Once a strand has killed all the vulnerable people, the survivors have immunity. I wonder if there's even an unexplained mechanism whereby baby's immune system can learn from the mother's.

While I'm at it - the 1918 flu outbreak happened during the waning days of the first World War - there's probably something important about that...

There is much more to learn before we have a complete understanding of how the flu works. I haven't caught the flu in years, and I don't bother with the vaccines anymore. Why does my immune system keep the virus in check, while others get floored by the same strain? I don't think the company that is developing this "universal" flu vaccine are interested in the answers, because their customers ('us') wouldn't need their product anymore.

Re: Do fix-alls really exist? (1)

Gospodin (547743) | more than 7 years ago | (#17401152)

Counterexamples: polio, smallpox.

I think it's simply very hard to produce a panacaea. I find it hard to believe that human greed is the reason we don't have more panacaeas. After all, if I had a vaccine that prevented all infectious diseases (say), think how much I could sell it for! Greed would drive my interest in developing and marketing this vaccine, not in holding it back.

Similarly, if you could create a computer system that never needed upgrading and had all the capabilities of existing systems, you could sell it for a hefty markup. But this is extremely hard to do.

Re:Do fix-alls really exist? (2, Informative)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 7 years ago | (#17401182)

Believe it or not, this is a scorching topic in the Business Case Study area.

Auto makers tried the Made-To-Rattle approach in the 1970's and nearly got wiped out. The Japanese realized that there are quite a lot of people to sell to ONCE, and selling their cars once was better than Detroit not selling anything at all.

The "Temporary Patch" mentality is the kind of thing people can trick themselves into from desperation. One of my old professors once said, "Suppose your customer wants to spend $100,000 with you. You get better results if you pass on cost savings; last year's $100,000 audit can be delivered this year for $75,000. But your customer "wants" to spend the same budget they always had - so just sell them some exciting new services."

Occasionally greedy companies can act to block something "too good", but nimble smaller groups by concept have to stake their claim at being better than the behemoth.

To reel this into SlashDot, If I'm gonna have you as an IT guy, quit patching my Windows box. Convert me to Linux. : ) And tell Tux to stop glaring at me.

Re:Do fix-alls really exist? (4, Interesting)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 7 years ago | (#17401356)

I know that in my business (semiconductor assembly equipment), we introduced a new low-end machine that invaded a competitor's formerly exclusive niche. Our machine was much faster upon introduction. As soon as we got on-site, our competitor showed up and was able to nearly double the speed of their machine in a few hours with a software patch. The intended effect, no doubt, was to show how much better their machine was then ours so that the customer wouldn't bother buying our equipment. Instead, the customer was infuriated that our competition had been "sandbagging" all this time, throttling down their machines so that the customer would have to buy more units to meet demand. In response, we now get 50% of their orders with our slightly slower machine - just to "keep them honest".

You need to watch out if you are considering holding back from your customers, and you see it on the consumer level, too. The iPod wouldn't even be around today if Sony hadn't sandbagged with their Walkman follow-ons. Artificially restricting your product is usually not very healthy in the long-term.

Re:Do fix-alls really exist? (1)

dada21 (163177) | more than 7 years ago | (#17401388)

I concur, fully, which is why we like to go beyond the call of duty and beyond expectations. Many of our customers are tech-friendly (some even ready slashdot regularly), so they're regularly surprised when we can beat even a low-end Windows PC into submission for the long haul. For us, it is more important to focus on the long-term goals of customer profitability (which is a great indicator of efficiency and even can be an indicator of employee happiness if there are perks to sustaining a profit-goal) rather than just on our own goal of profitability. We'll always make money, but there are times when we have to eat a loss because we didn't focus well enough on the customer's goals and instead focused on our own.

I'd never hold out on my clients because I know from experience (seeing some competitors fail) that it doesn't make sense it any competitive industry. Government, on the other hand, has absolutely no reason to solve any problem because they've got a monopoly on their "business."

Re:Do fix-alls really exist? (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 7 years ago | (#17401568)

Government, on the other hand, has absolutely no reason to solve any problem because they've got a monopoly on their "business."
I think that it's actually because in government, the "customer" tends to be special interests and lobbyists instead of voters. It is far more important (in the US, anyway) to raise a lot of money for your next campaign. Not that I can think of a better system, mind you, other than letting me be dictator. :)

Re:Do fix-alls really exist? (1)

HiThere (15173) | more than 7 years ago | (#17402212)

Occasionally greedy companies can act to block something "too good", but nimble smaller groups by concept have to stake their claim at being better than the behemoth.

Blocking the nimble smaller groups is one of the purposes of patents.

Re:Do fix-alls really exist? (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#17401286)

do you ever want to sell a product that never needs updating or repairs or replacement? Is it anyone's goal to truly fix a problem forever?

      Ethically, yes you should. However the words "Business" and "Ethics" in the same sentence, especially when another word called "Money" is used, really generates creative results. The old adage applies - if you can't fix the problem forever, at least you should do very well if you can fix it better than your competitor.

Re:Do fix-alls really exist? (2, Insightful)

sgt.greywar (1039430) | more than 7 years ago | (#17401330)

Are there vaccines or medical products that are permanent? Are you serious here? Maybe just googling for vaccines would help you out here. Had polio recently? Whooping cough? Rubella? Hepatitus? Is having a shot once a decade "too often" since it is only "temporary"? Geez sorry medical breakthroughs that are equivalent to miracles aren't convenient enough for you.

Re:Do fix-alls really exist? (4, Funny)

vertinox (846076) | more than 7 years ago | (#17401360)

Is it anyone's goal to truly fix a problem forever?

I can think of two...

Laser hair removal and vasectomies.

Re:Do fix-alls really exist? (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 7 years ago | (#17401848)

Perhaps they feel they have played out the flu profits. The pharmaceutical companies have lots of other diseases to sell temporary fixes for. It is also good to periodically come out with an actual cure now and then. Heck, it's even possible that as our population gets older, the pharma companies might be calculating that letting the flu run loose could kill enough of their very profitable customers that they would loose huge profits. This keeps the conspiracy theories down. The conspiracy theory question would be, "What percentage of the pharma industry's profits come from the current temporary flu vaccines."

Of course whether a permanent flu vaccine is a marketing gimmick, or it really is just now able to be created, doesn't change that it would be a very good thing.

Re:Do fix-alls really exist? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17401980)

Don't be such a F'ing cynic. Most of the people in the medical field are driven by the hope of honestly helping people. Saving lives is a far different matter than making a buck. If doctors could offer a permanent cure they would, but your b cells have a limited life time, so what can you do.

Re:Do fix-alls really exist? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17402346)

When you are dealing with an infectious disease, the only permanent fix possible is the disease's total eradication. Because such diseases are cause by lifeforms, or near lifeforms, which will evolve to get around any preventative anyone can come up with.

Eradication is hard, and only possible in some cases.

Novel Plot element (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 7 years ago | (#17400860)

Terrorist starts a Bird Flu attack... but everyone has taken the SuperVaccine, so it fizzles.

Re:Novel Plot element (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17401454)

If Terrorist has IQ > 50 or has access to the internet to read the news, why would they start an attack when they know everyone is immune?

Shots Suck (1)

huckda (398277) | more than 7 years ago | (#17400866)

Lucky me to actually have an immune system that deals with that.
Have never had the flu and have never had a shot for the flu.

Re:Shots Suck (1)

crow (16139) | more than 7 years ago | (#17400956)

Of course, many of the people around you have gotten the vaccine, so you're getting the benefit indirectly. They don't get the flu, so they don't expose you to it.

Re:Shots Suck (1)

huckda (398277) | more than 7 years ago | (#17401062)

I work in the school systems..I'm exposed on a grand scale daily ;)
but yes indirectly benefited by those who have received which 1/2 of the teachers do, doubtful many of the students do.

Re:Shots Suck (1)

dknj (441802) | more than 7 years ago | (#17401840)

which begs the question, would we be safe if exposed to bird flu? i personally think i'd get pretty damn sick if bird flu came around.. compared to my roommates who have had a flu vaccine.

Re:Shots Suck (1)

asuffield (111848) | more than 7 years ago | (#17402334)

which begs the question, would we be safe if exposed to bird flu?


Given that there isn't any evidence of it being ever transmitted by humans, yes, probably (unless you spend a lot of time with your hands in the guts of sick or dead birds).

Ridiculous bit of deliberate media hysteria, that one. A couple of people die from handling dead birds, the scientists say "well, it's not a threat right now, but just like every other damn virus in the world it could mutate into something that was a serious problem", a drug company realises "hey, we've got something that might be effective against things like that, although obviously we've never tried it because the virus we need DOESN'T EXIST YET", and the next thing you know all the media companies are reporting that this drug company needs to be given lots of money or the world will end.

There is no "bird flu" threat. There is only the possibility that it may one day mutate into a threat - which is a trait it shares with every single other virus in existence.

Eugenics (1)

Clever7Devil (985356) | more than 7 years ago | (#17400882)

Hooray for making large portions of the population immune to virii with this protein. Nothing like guiding evolution/adaptation ever closer towards pandemic.

Re:Eugenics (3, Insightful)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 7 years ago | (#17400966)

Hooray for making large portions of the population immune to virii with this protein. Nothing like guiding evolution/adaptation ever closer towards pandemic.

You're right! We should ban all medicines that fight diseases that kill millions because they might cause the disease to mutate into a disease that kills millions.

Re:Eugenics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17401550)

The interesting part of this loop though is that make a cure to fight disease (pay medication $$$), another disease pops up, make a cure to fight disease (pay medication $$$). I think the real winners here are the biotech companies and healthcare industry. Just like lawyers, they will always "win".

Re:Eugenics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17402198)

Related to this:

"My chief quarrel with DDT is that is saved millions of lives" Alexander King, founder
of the infamous "Club of Rome" a think tank dedicated to Malthusian theories of
population control.

To cut the long short, I suggest you don't let yourself be injected with anything scum like
that concocts.

Re:Eugenics (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#17401236)

Nothing like guiding evolution/adaptation ever closer towards pandemic.

      Why? Are you still waiting for the next smallpox pandemic?

Great News - but why emphasise stockpiling? (2, Insightful)

giafly (926567) | more than 7 years ago | (#17400938)

Described as the 'holy grail' of flu vaccines, it would protect against all strains of influenza A - the virus behind both bird flu and the nastiest outbreaks of winter flu. .... Importantly, the vaccines would also be quicker and easier to make than the traditional jabs, meaning vast quantities could be stockpiled against a global outbreak of bird flu.
If the vaccine protects against all strains of influenza A, why stockpile it? Surely just vaccinating people would be simpler and protect them immediately. There are several mentions of stockpiling, so I really wonder whether this article is accurate.

Re:Great News - but why emphasise stockpiling? (1)

Nos. (179609) | more than 7 years ago | (#17401034)

Good point. A vaccine is useless once you've contracted the virus.

Re:Great News - but why emphasise stockpiling? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17401312)

Charge $1000 per dose. No one will be willing to buy it until a pandemic breaks out and people start dying by the thousands. Then everyone will want it, thus the need for the stockpile.

Re:Great News - but why emphasise stockpiling? (1)

ruiner13 (527499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17401544)

Are you new here? Why give out for free when you can horde and use it for power and influence.

Re:Great News - but why emphasise stockpiling? (1)

cnettel (836611) | more than 7 years ago | (#17401622)

There are plenty of vaccines that are giving too great side-effects to be administered generally, when the risk is low. Some guesses in this case might involve some pretty aggressive adjuvant to get the body to target a protein that you won't get immunity against after a normal infection. (Simple test: have a lot of people been infected with Influenza A twice in the last hundred years? Yep. So, obviously, the protein itself makes quite a lousy target and we need to provoke the immune system to actually recognize it. Such provocation can sometimes be quite nasty.)

Re:Great News - but why emphasise stockpiling? (4, Insightful)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 7 years ago | (#17401714)

Probably because it would be hard to compel people to get the vaccine. I mean, there is a vaccine available now for this year's flu, yet I sit here un-vaccinated. Hell, I doubt that my tetanus shot is up-to-date. People only get vaccinated when they are scared - my infant is vaccinated, my wife is vaccinated (she's in health care), and many old folks get vaccinated. The rest of us just take our chances with the flu because we aren't scared of it and we don't get it every year.

When something is more deadly, people get vaccinated. Everyone will be in line for an AIDS vaccine, and they certainly have no trouble getting folks vaccinated in the US against polio or smallpox.

You'll never "stop" the flu as they have with smallpox and polio (almost), because it jumps species too easily. If birds still carry it, it will be very difficult to control in human populations.

Re:Great News - but why emphasise stockpiling? (1)

dotbenjamin (1034650) | more than 7 years ago | (#17401774)

Of course it's not accurate - it's a Daily Mail article. The only shock is that they didn't claim that the flu virus was created by asylum seekers or rising house prices.

Re:Great News - but why emphasise stockpiling? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17401796)

I think the article meant stockpiling as an immediate option. So if the bird flu virus hits before the vaccine is approved by the FDA, we will still have enough of the vaccine around for everybody. Once the vaccine is approved there should be no reason to stockpile it, since most people would have received the shot.

Super-Vaccine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17400962)

Ha! Soon, we'll be immune to everything! Take that Michael Chrichton et al!

Re:Super-Vaccine (1)

Gospodin (547743) | more than 7 years ago | (#17401230)

Won't help. Crichton will just write a novel in which chaos theory causes the Super-Vaccine to react with our genetic material in such a way that we all transform into dinosaurs.

Re:Super-Vaccine (1)

pilgrim23 (716938) | more than 7 years ago | (#17401910)

It has already happened in nature. Look at the sickle cell snemia gene in Negros resulting from the natural selection caused from a African maleria epedemic (gene that fights maleria, also relates to sickle cell). Or, look at that wonderful European experience with yersinia pestis: I have read decendents of Black Death survivors have some immunity to AIDS.
There are many examples. All of us today have whatever gene allowed us to survive the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic.

In other news... (5, Funny)

gzerphey (1006177) | more than 7 years ago | (#17400980)

Nature develops Super-Flu to counteract Vaccine.

Nature sucks... We should just take off and nuke it from orbit.

Re:In other news... (1)

ermintru (797621) | more than 7 years ago | (#17401234)

Not always - Where is super SmallPox, Polio, Hepatitis A, B, Measles, Mumps, Whooping Cough etc Vaccines have saved more lives than drugs and other medical interventions put together.

Re:In other news... (1)

HiThere (15173) | more than 7 years ago | (#17402522)

Sorry, sanitation gets the prize for most effective medical intervention. Vaccines are up there, but not at the top. (I forget what's in second place. Indoor heating? Water pipes? Something we don't think of as medical.)

Gaia... (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#17401340)

Watch it brother - don't piss off Gaia - she is much older and stronger than you...

Re:Gaia... (1)

cHALiTO (101461) | more than 7 years ago | (#17401744)

Yeah.. right.. thanks for the advice, Captain Planet.

(Man, I can't believe I remember that show.. I mean.. the power of HEART?? pfff)

Re:In other news... (1)

dapsychous (1009353) | more than 7 years ago | (#17402326)

Wonderful, a super-flu. Should we go ahead and group off into "Las Vegas" and "Boulder Free Zone" now? Who's got dibs on the old black lady?

Common cold next? (2, Interesting)

crow (16139) | more than 7 years ago | (#17400992)

Can they use a similar approach for the common cold next?

Of course, the only reason they developed this vaccine is because of the panic spending on flu vaccine research because of the bird flu. Without similar funding, the pharmaceutical companies will happily keep developing cold remedies instead of preventions.

Re:Common cold next? (2, Interesting)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | more than 7 years ago | (#17401576)

As I understand it there is no desease called 'the common cold'. Instead there are literally thousands of deseases, some related and some not, that humanity has adapeted to to the point that we show only minimal symptoms. The symptoms that still show are the symptoms that get them spread: coughing, sneesing, etc. Headaches and feavers are side-effects of either the primary symptoms, or of our bodies' fighting the desease.

So, no, they can't really. The flu is caused by one family of virus, and they can target a vaccine to that virus family. The cold can be caused by thousands of viruses or bacteria, so no one treatment (besides treating the symptoms) can work on all of them.

It's in the Mail, it's almost certainly snake oil (4, Informative)

Alioth (221270) | more than 7 years ago | (#17401344)

The Daily Mail is probably one of the most ignorant newspapers published in Britain, read by reactionary permanently offended right wing little Englanders (the audience to which it panders). Unfortunately, if the report's only in the Daily Mail, it's almost certainly wrong in every important detail. The Mail is one of the least credible papers in Britain.

Indeed! (1)

wwwrench (464274) | more than 7 years ago | (#17401946)

I've recently visited to the UK, and was completely shocked at the Daily Mail and the general level of the tabloids. Google daily mail and Hitler [google.com], if you want to get a sense of how it is and was. They even serialised The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Sure, everywhere, there are plenty of crap media outlets. But I have never seen such a vicious level of lies and right-wing campaigning. You can't believe a word they say -- no need to ever pick them up. This is not just true of the Daily Mail, the general level of the tabloids is uniformly pitiful. They makes Fox news look fair and balanced in comparison. For example the level of anger that the UK tabloids deliberately generates against immigrants, gypsys, etc. through lies and smear campaigns is staggering. And I have seen the most outrageous lies leveled against people without the slightest restraint. You really have to read them to believe them. They aren't there to be a news source. They are there to entertain and scare the masses. You may discount them as being just fluff and lady-Di stories, but most people read them and they are hugely influencial.

So what happens when we kill off those viruses? (1)

Wannabe Code Monkey (638617) | more than 7 years ago | (#17401346)

The universal vaccines focus on a different protein called M2, which has barely changed during the last 100 years.

Wild guess here, but I'm betting that there is a small percentage of the flu viruses out there will have some sort of resistance to this vaccine. Maybe their M2 protein will be slightly different and they'll all survive. Then all of a sudden, the only flu viruses left will be the resistant strain. With our luck these will also be particularly virulent. Then where will we be?

Re:So what happens when we kill off those viruses? (1)

iambarry (134796) | more than 7 years ago | (#17401736)

I'm guessing we would only give the vaccine to people. Seems to me that other species are the major hosts to the flu virus (migratory birds?). As long as we don't let the birds get a hold of it, we should be ok.

The secret ingredient (3, Funny)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#17401422)

The formula lies in a particular oleaginous substance which can be manufactured from refined cells of particular reptiles of suborder serpentes.

History Repeating (Possibly) (1)

plaid_piper (920238) | more than 7 years ago | (#17401450)

The Spanish Flu pandemic occurred, what? 95 years ago give or take? The flu base protein (M2) hasn't changed in approximately 100 years. Any guesses as to what happened the last time the flu altered itself at the fundamental level?

Re:History Repeating (Possibly) (2, Interesting)

iambarry (134796) | more than 7 years ago | (#17401630)

My guess :the oldest sample they can test is from the Spanish Flu pandemic.

From wikipedia ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_flu#Spanish_f lu_research [wikipedia.org] )
In February 1998, a team led by Jeffery Taubenberger of the US Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP) recovered samples of the 1918 influenza from the frozen corpse of a Native Alaskan woman buried for nearly eight decades in permafrost


They don't think it changed 100 years ago, they just know it hasn't in the last 100.

Claims on Effectiveness (2, Informative)

The Step Child (216708) | more than 7 years ago | (#17401492)

From the article:

The universal vaccines focus on a different protein called M2, which has barely changed during the last 100 years.
The main question that comes to my mind is how they can claim that this vaccine will require only a booster shot every 10 years. The drug rimantadine is believed to act by inhibiting the M2 ion channel - however, drug resistance can develop if the M2 gene has a chance to mutate. Presumably, mutations that render "anti-M2" vaccines ineffective are also possible, perhaps not necessarily in the same range of probability (one could argue that mutations are far less likely when the virus is faced with the immune system versus a drug). However - especially at the population level - could placing selective pressure onto the M2 gene lead to resistance faster than the company anticipates? I suppose time (and human trials!) will tell :)

Obesity vaccines (1)

Elentari (1037226) | more than 7 years ago | (#17401502)

"Zurich-based Cytos, which is also developing anti-smoking and obesity vaccines"

These people are creating "solutions" for lazy people who won't take responsibility for their own lifestyles - what makes you trust them to cure flu, and not just use this as another money-making scheme?

Super Flu? (3, Insightful)

Lord_Dweomer (648696) | more than 7 years ago | (#17401504)

Correct me if I'm wrong...but isn't the reason that we haven't cured the flu yet with all of our advances in medical technology due to the fact that the virus keeps mutating and evolving due to natural selection taking place when we apply vaccines? Won't this just serve to create a super flu? I really hope that the people doing this research (who obviously know quite a bit more on the subject) have already thought of this...

Flu Virus Proteins (4, Informative)

reverseengineer (580922) | more than 7 years ago | (#17401528)

The two proteins noted as being the current targets for flu research are hemagglutinin and neuraminidase- these are the "H" and "N" that influenza viruses are classified by (like H5N1 for the modern strain of avian flu of much concern). Hemagglutinin plays a major role in attachment of the flu virus to the host cell, while neuraminidase promotes viral release from infected cells. These have been the focus of most flu research because the body usually has strong antigenic responses to them.

M2 happens to be an ion channel protein for the flu virus, which is also necessary for propagation of the virus (it's thought to be involved breaking down the virus protein coat once inside the host cell, freeing the genetic material to be replicated). As the article notes, it tends to be more conserved than H and N- there may be a severe disadvantage for a flu virus to have a mutant strain of M2.

What the article does not mention, however, is that there are a couple of antiviral drugs already available which target M2. Amantidine [wikipedia.org] and rimantidine [wikipedia.org] both are thought to interfere with M2, and are already administered as antivirals against flu. (Curiously enough, they started as Parkinson's treatments- it was discovered patients taking them had serendipitous flu resistance). While a vaccine meant to target M2 might work differently than the adamantane-based antiviral drugs, it's worth noting that influenza, and H5N1 flu at that, resistant to those drugs is already quite common throughout Southeast Asia.

Everybody knows the only cure... (1)

butterwise (862336) | more than 7 years ago | (#17401556)

...is more cowbell.

Re:Everybody knows the only cure... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17401676)

No no no.. Cowbell only cures fevers, not influenza :P

Mexicans Drink the Water in Mexico! (1)

WED Fan (911325) | more than 7 years ago | (#17401572)

By living such clean and germ free lives, washing our hands continually, we are opening ourselves up to one Hell of a super-bug eventually. We keep Fracking around with nature, it's going to bite us in our collective asses soon enough.

I would rather be sick a few times a year, rather than vaccinate myself against all ills. Did we learn nothing from the over prescription of anti-biotics.

People in Mexico drink the water, do they get sick? Not like we do. Sure, we may not live until 120, but I bet you the entire American public will get laid low by the next super bug because we are losing our natural defenses.

Hyper bowl (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17401730)

Interesting points... all invalidated by the use of a pretend cuss-word.

Single protein, eh? (1)

Steve Fuller (727327) | more than 7 years ago | (#17401660)

IANAMolecularBiologist...

So, wouldn't that imply that some people might be naturally immune already? Wonders of evolution and all that...

Anyone ever found any? If not, why not?

Smoking vaccine... (2, Interesting)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#17401698)

The article mentions the same company has developed a vaccine that makes nicotine ineffective. Googling it, it looks like it's being "fast tracked" and will be FDA-approved in 2008-9. How long before a smoking vaccine is mandated by companies, schools, and governments looking to reduce healthcare costs? How long before vaccines are developed against other drugs? Personally, I *like* some chemical substances that give me pleasure (mostly weed, cigs, and coffee). I don't overuse them. I can understand abusers wanting to quit, but I'd hate to see drug vaccines be mandated even for people who may use occasionally.

-b.

Re:Smoking vaccine... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17401782)

put down the bong for two seconds dirty hippy

Re:Smoking vaccine... (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#17401804)

put down the bong for two seconds dirty hippy

OK. *spikes A.C.'s orange juice with LSD and then tokes up again.*

-b.

The vaccine could not be distributed where needed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17402024)

In the latest study published a few weeks ago http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601103&si d=a6tRoyQugAAo&refer=us/ [bloomberg.com])estimates around 62 million people would die from a pandemic outbreak and 95% of them would be from third-world countires.

The people who would NOT recieve this vaccine would not be the most poor, the people with the highest risk of dying.

Although this may appear callious, 62 million extra deaths in a year or so could do wonders for the environment. Also, think of the economic impact. With tens of millions of poor people dead, we can focus on the people left alive and improve society for all.

The man wants to keep the skinny man down!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17402070)

Zurich-based Cytos, which is also developing anti-smoking and obesity vaccines, has showed that its version of the jab stops mice dying from a dose of flu strong enough to kill them four-times over.

Must be from some politician's attempts to get rid of non-smoking zones or from some lobbyists who can't stand people who are too skinny (I mean, we ARE in the minority now...). I'll say this much, they won't force me to take these vaccines. Take that, Big Brother!
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