Depression is the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 30 percent of Americans at some point in their lives. But despite half a century of research, ubiquitous advertising, and blockbuster sales, antidepressant drugs just don’t work very well. The science magazine Nautilus explores the use of ketamine to treat depression and prevent PTSD. [more inside]
Catholic Bishops In Kenya Call For A Boycott Of Polio Vaccines Fearing a UN plot to sterilize the populace with vaccines containing estrogen derivatives, Bishop Philip Anyolo and others have been encouraging others not to immunize their children. [more inside]
New Ebola vaccine shows 100% success rate in clinical trial. Today the World Health Organization has announced that the rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine had a 100% success rate in preventing onset of the disease if administered within 10 days of exposure (n=4,000). In response to the current outbreak in West Africa that has afflicted over 27,000 and killed over 11,000, this collaborative effort led by the WHO pushed the vaccine through a process that usually takes more than a decade in just 12 months. Official paper from The Lancet here (pdf).
In 1989, Cuba conducted over 80% of its trade with Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CEMA, or Comecon), but with the relatively abrupt dissolution of the Soviet Union, Cuba was suddenly in a very tough economic position. Over the next years, the country focused on three key economies: sugar, tourism and biotechnology (Google books preview). While the first two seem logical enough, the story of biotech in Cuba, especially Havana at the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB), is getting more attention recently with Cuba's possible therapeutic vaccine against lung cancer. [more inside]
On April 29 the World Health organization declared North and South America to be free of rubella after the last reported endemic case in Argentina in 2009. The New York Times discusses the history of rubella eradication in the Americas and the case of Gene Tierney, an actress who caught the disease while performing a show in 1943.
At age 14, James Harrison had major surgery and required 3.4 gallons of donated blood. As soon as he turned 18, he began donating blood himself, and it was discovered that his blood contained an antibody that, when given to Rh- mothers of Rh+ babies, prevents Rhesus disease. [more inside]
Vaccine-Preventable Disease Outbreaks Around the World/Data Visualization. The video was based on an interactive map created by the Council on Foreign Relations. The short article linked in the video.
"During the 2013-2014 flu season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 46 percent of Americans received vaccinations against influenza, even though it kills about 3,000 people in this country in a good year, nearly 50,000 in a bad one." [more inside]
The Illusion of "Natural": In an excerpt from her new book On Immunity, Eula Biss deconstructs desires to flee from "toxins" and embrace what is "natural". Where the word filth once suggested, with its moralist air, the evils of the flesh, the word toxic now condemns the chemical evils of our industrial world. This is not to say that concerns over environmental pollution are not justified—like filth theory, toxicity theory is anchored in legitimate dangers—but that the way we think about toxicity bears some resemblance to the way we once thought about filth. [more inside]
A timeline of diseases and vaccines [warning: graphic photo of cutaneous diphtheria at year 1975]. Categories are: diphtheria, measles, polio, smallpox, yellow fever, and 'others'. You can select one keyword to view only that subject's timeline. From the History of Vaccines website (about page | FAQ). Similar timelines at the same site for pioneers, science and society, and there's an En Español timeline, too. [more inside]
In the past weeks, there have been 20 confirmed cases of the measles in New York. After being virtually "eradicated" in the United States in 2000, 2013 saw 189 cases reported. The most recent outbreak seems to have spread due to "failure of medical workers to recognize the disease quickly enough and to quarantine patients so they would not infect others." And via Slate: "I’m a Pediatrician. Should I Treat All Kids, or Just the Vaccinated Ones?"
It's not all bad news. People are living longer, we're winning the fight against malaria, worldwide poverty is down, and eight more reasons for hope in the coming year.
Noted anti-vaccination activist Jenny McCarthy is going to replace Elizabeth Hasselbeck as The View's newest panelist. So, now, she can take her anti-vaccine roadshow to the masses. Even though she admitted that her son never had autism. A Slate columnist is even trying to petition The View to not hire Ms. McCarthy.
This week the FDA announced that they were approving a new kind of flu vaccine. Nestled in the articles was an odd fact: unlike traditional flu vaccines, the new kind, called Flublok, is produced by the cells of insects. This is the kind of detail that you might skim over without giving it a thought. If you did pause to ponder, you might be puzzled: how could insects possibly make a vaccine against viruses that infect humans? The answer may surprise you. To make vaccines, scientists are tapping into a battle between viruses and insects that’s raging in forests and fields and backyards all around us. It’s an important lesson in how to find new ideas in biotechnology: first, leave biologists free to explore the weirdest corners of nature they can find. [more inside]
"Why do parasites harm their hosts? Conventional wisdom holds that because parasites depend on their hosts for survival and transmission, they should evolve to become benign, yet many parasites cause harm. Theory predicts that parasites could evolve virulence (i.e., parasite-induced reductions in host fitness) by balancing the transmission benefits of parasite replication with the costs of host death. This idea has led researchers to predict how human interventions—such as vaccines—may alter virulence evolution, yet empirical support is critically lacking." Two papers demonstrate empirical evidence for related models predicting the origin of virulence: [more inside]
Recently, the World Health Organisation anounced that India has officially broken the chain of Polio transmission, with no new cases reported in the last year. Following independent checks of the reporting laboratories, Indian Health Minister announced that WHO "has taken India's name off the list of polio endemic countries". [more inside]
Vaccinate, or begone. Some pediatricians are refusing to see children whose parents refuse to allow vaccination.
Researchers from the University of Western Ontario have announced the launch of human clinical trials of a preventative HIV vaccine.
"if you don’t have the science and evidence to back up your point of view, in order to persuade someone, make a movie." Science-Based Medicine reviews "rational and scientific" vaccine skeptic film, The Greater Good.
A new malaria vaccine has been shown effective in large-scale field trials. After decades of disappointment, researchers think they're finally on track to unleash the first practical vaccine against malaria, one of mankind's ancient scourges. In the world's first large field trial of an experimental malaria vaccine, several thousand young children who got three doses had about 55 percent less risk of getting the disease over a year than those who got a control vaccine against rabies or meningitis. [more inside]
Recently, 8-year-old Precious Reynolds became the sixth person in history to survive rabies without a vaccine. A few years back, Extraordinary People put out a documentary (1 2 3) on the first person to beat the only viral disease that hides itself completely from one's immune system.
With the help of Bill Gates, the World's efforts to eradicate polio (PDF) have over the last few years gained a great deal of new hope (TED) [more inside]
In a recent paper published in Nature Hansen et al. show the efficacy of their unusual vaccine strategy against SIVMAC239 in rhesus macaques. While the goal is not necessarily to produce a human vaccine against HIV using this exact strategy, this paper is now reigniting the debate over the progression of HIV infections and the mechanism(s) by which the virus skirts the human immune system.
The British Medical Journal has called Andrew Wakefield, the lead author of the study that initially claimed a link between the MMR vaccine and autism, a fraud. Investigative journalist Brian Deer went through the original medical records of the children included in the study and found that, amongst other things, some of them didn't have autism. Language this strong in a journal like this is pretty unusual, especially given the UK's libel laws. The Lancet retracted the original paper (PDF) last year due to concerns about breaches of research ethics (previously on Metafilter), but the BMJ is claiming deliberate manipulation and misrepresentation of data for financial gain.
Inducement Prizes -- Best known for the Ansari X Prize, the DARPA Grand Challenge and the Clay Mathematics Millennium Problems, inducement prizes have a long history, but their recent successes have led to increased government interest, viz. challenge.gov, and resulted in the development of vaccines, thanks in large part to the work of Michael Kremer.* [more inside]
There is no question that HIV is an ugly virus in terms of human health. Each year, it infects some 2.7 million additional people and leads to some two million deaths from AIDS. But a new album manages to locate some sonic beauty deep in its genome. Sounds of HIV (Azica Records) by composer Alexandra Pajak explores the patterns of the virus's nucleotides as well as the amino acids transcribed by HIV, playing through these biologic signatures in 17 tracks. [more inside]
It's been suggested that the humble mosquito is responsible for more deaths than all the wars combined. Scientists working at the Planck institute are hoping to change this by using the mosquitoes themselves as a way to administer a malaria vaccine. [more inside]
The Facts In The Case Of Dr. Andrew Wakefield. A fifteen page comic about the MMR vaccination controversy. Previously.
Desiree Jennings is a 25-year old marketing manager (and Redskins "Ambassador cheerleader") who claims that in August she received a seasonal flu vaccine at a grocery store that caused a never-before-seen dystonia. While saturating media outlets and drawing the support of celebrity anti-vaccinationists, she shunned the doctors who treated her at Johns Hopkins University who (along with other neurologists who have seen footage of her) judged that she was suffering from a psychogenic disorder. [more inside]
In Does the Vaccine Matter?, Shannon Brownlee and Jeanne Lenzer discuss the history of vaccines and explore why "some flu experts are challenging the medical orthodoxy and arguing that for those most in need of protection, flu shots and antiviral drugs may provide little to none." In a related story (which condenses and provides a point-by-point summary of the original (with obvious bias)): "Flu vaccines revealed as the greatest quackery ever pushed in the history of medicine."
A new HIV vaccine is showing promising results, reducing the risk of contracting the virus by 32 percent. While further tests are still needed, the vaccine is a combination failed HIV vaccines AIDSVAX and ALVAC, based on the Canary Pox virus. The study itself faced criticism from the outset.
Depending on which side of the Irish Sea you live, the HPV jab is either a killer that shouldn't be given to young women or it's a necessary and life saving vaccination. Layscience.net exposes the disturbingly awful cynicism of The Daily Mail. (via badscience.net)
A German researcher accidentally jabbed her finger with a hypodermic loaded with the deadly Ebola virus. 48 hours later, she was injected with an untested, experimental vaccine, developed by an international team of virologists and biologists. Though she may never have been infected, she was certainly in danger; in 2004, a similar incident caused the death of a Russian scientist at a former Soviet biological weapons lab.
Maybe it's time to give up. Last year's failed clinical trial for Merck's HIV vaccine (which once appeared so promising) led many to claim that AIDS vaccine research is in crisis. According to an unprecedented poll conducted by The Independent most scientists involved in AIDS research believe that a vaccine against HIV is further away than ever and some have admitted that effective immunisation against the virus may never be possible. [more inside]
Hannah Poling is a nine year old girl with mild to moderate symptoms of autism, which developed three months after she received vaccinations. The Department of Health and Human Services announced that her family will receive a settlement from the vaccine compensation fund. Autism activists are encouraged, but the DHHS officials insist they are not admitting a link between autism and vaccines and maintain that for most, vaccines are safe. Rather, they say, the series of vaccines Hannah received exacerbated an underlying mitochondrial condition, causing the symptoms of autism. [more inside]
The end of influenza? New british vaccine may prevent ALL types of flu, savings thousands of lives (and sick days) each year.
Both Find a Flu Shot and Flu Clinic Locator will let you punch in a date & zip code and find a bunch of locations near you in the U.S. selling the vaccine. For the first time in three years there's plenty to go around. The CDC estimates that everyone who might want one will be able to get one. And you probably want one. According to wikipedia "36,000 people per year in the United States die from influenza, and 114,000 per year are admitted to a hospital as a result of influenza. According to estimates by the World Health Organization, between 250,000 and 500,000 die from influenza infection each year worldwide." That's 5 to 10 times as many civilian casualties as the Iraq conflict in 1/3 the time. [more inside]
AIDS really did come from chimps in the 1950s --..."We're 25 years into this pandemic," Hahn said. "We don't have a cure. We don't have a vaccine. But we know where it came from. At least we can make a check mark on one of those." ... ...Identifying the source of the HIV pandemic is more than filling in a missing link in the disease's progression. ...
It is estimated that due to an infected polio vaccine, 10 million to 30 million people in the United States from 1955 through early 1963 were inadvertently exposed to live Simian Virus #40, a pathogen linked to various cancers. If it happened before, maybe it happened again. Perhaps AIDS was just another accidental contamination originating in an American lab - this time a hepatitis vaccine gone wrong. Why assume conspiracy Dr Cantwell?
Human trials show ricin vaccine is safe. For those that don't know ricin is a very potent poison that can be made from castor beans. Details of medical effects are available on Emedicine. Ricin was famously used in the murder of Georgi Markov. Research was done at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, TX.
Newsfilter: Several pharmaceutical companies are developing vaccines against strains of the human papilloma virus that cause cervical cancer. Some folks think these shots should be required for all kids entering puberty. Others are afraid that teens given the vaccination would view it as a free pass for premarital sex.
Nicotine Vaccine Shows Promise. Smokers may have some help kicking the habit from an inoculation being tested by several companies.
1.7 million deaths in the U.S. and 180-360 million dead globally. That's the estimate of the impact of the next influenza pandemic from Michael Osterholm, published in today's New England Journal of Medicine. He warns that almost every public health response to the inevitable emergence of pandemic influenza A strain is unplanned or inadequate: A vaccine would take minimum six months (and millions of fertilized chicken eggs); there are no plans to setup and staff the temporary isolation wards or replace dead health-care workers; nor are there detailed plans for handling the number of dead bodies. Given the deeply interconnected nature of the global economy a pandemic would be impossible to stop and wreak havoc in every nation. "Frankly the crisis could for all we know have started last night in some village in Southeast Asia," said Dr. Paul Gully, Canada's deputy chief public health officer. "We don't have any time to waste and even if we did have some time, the kinds of things we need to do will take years. Right now, the best we can do is try to survive it. We need a Manhattan Project yesterday."
Another year, another flu vaccine shortage. Perhaps it just the first salvo of 2004's media Flu Frenzy! I think this winter I will retire the the TV, forget about my pharma portfolio and instead light a fire, swig some hot lemon and honey tea, and spice up my life.
In the can-anything-else-go-wrong file, US Troops suffer from permanent brain damage after being administered malaria treatment. For as big a logistical challenge a war might be, and technological advances in mass support systems, you'd think the joint-forces would do a better job?
First Documented Case of HIV hybridization in a human being was presented at the International AIDS Society conference in Paris. In this case, genetic tests on a superinfected woman showed that the two strains she was infected with swapped genetic material, creating a new hybrid strain of HIV. The actual effects are not yet clear, but this could pose a serious problem for researchers trying to create a vaccine.
They're ugly. I mean small and really ugly! And they don't do us any favors at all. We can hold each other's hands, and share support. Our fight against them may lead to knowledge in other battles, but I think its time to go on the offensive. Its time to defang the beastie. (Maybe I should have posted this at Warfilter instead?)
A scientist discovers that scorpions make two types of venoms. Cool. But he made the discovery while attempting to find a toxin that he wants to put into a common cold virus, in order to kill insects that catch the cold? Shouldn't we be worried about this?
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