Could you patent the sun?
October 28, 2014 8:29 AM   Subscribe

 
Salk: Could you patent the sun?
Pfizer: We're working on it.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:03 AM on October 28, 2014 [16 favorites]


Back in an era where science was respected & trusted.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 9:11 AM on October 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


I was given that vaccine for free in public school (5th grade, I believe.) Imagine what would happen if a public school tried something like this now.
posted by Obscure Reference at 9:19 AM on October 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


I just got my 6month old her whooping cough shot this morning. She was very brave and only cried for a second. Thanks Dr S!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:25 AM on October 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


The interview with Peter is very interesting. He sounds like a really thoughtful guy, like his father.

The way he saw it, the universe has gone through three stages of evolution. First, there was the pre-biologic realm, where you had the evolution of matter: atoms, molecules, stars, galaxies. Then life appeared: Biological evolution was driven by a need to survive. Finally, humans came on the scene. Look at us—where is the evolution happening now? The world around us is so hugely complex, and that complexity comes from us.

The fundamental element that is evolving now in our sphere of existence is not matter, not life—it’s consciousness. The unit here is the mind. My father called this the metabiologic realm; it’s driven by choice. He often said that we are the products of the process of evolution, and we have become the process itself. It’s our responsibility to be making wise choices.

posted by Drinky Die at 9:29 AM on October 28, 2014 [5 favorites]


It always drives me crazy seeing this mythologizing of Salk. They didn't pursue a patent because they wouldn't get it, not because they were "nice"
posted by james.nvc at 9:37 AM on October 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


The fact that the lawyers from the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis did the due diligence as to the feasibility of a patent doesn't imply intent to patent, or that Salk was not "nice."


As one of the commenters on your link put it:

"While that vaguely helps to support all of the utter B.S. we have gotten ourselves (humanity) into with TRIPS and bogus IPR, it is superfluous information. Salk went on record stating he believed in the cure, and he did his research at a time when we did not have the same preposterously greedy Research and Development / Patent Scheme we have today, where there needs to be a considerable amount of proof and possibly a full patent on the ‘gene’ ‘virus’ ‘bacteria’ ‘plant’ to even start the specialized research. I think it is embarrassing that many ‘scientists’ are working with TEAMS of lawyers and economists instead of doing great things for our species. Many scientists and inventors anymore, or curious and passionate…I feel many just want a job, and they have a degree.

Sorry for the tangents. But to write critically about Salk with correllatory proof seems a bit naft…"
posted by stenseng at 9:43 AM on October 28, 2014 [4 favorites]


Not to mention that it's *possible* that a post from "biotech-now.org" *might* have a slight vested interest in presenting things in a certain light...
posted by stenseng at 9:58 AM on October 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


I feel many just want a job, and they have a degree.

What the hell is wrong with that? The real issue is, was and always will be funding for talented scientists who just want a (decent, middle class) job and have a degree - business, government and university funding for biomedical research is slowing to a trickle due to regulatory capture and a toxic culture of consolidation in big pharma and a slash-everything rejection of public health and higher learning as a role for government by the Republican Party.

Grad students and post-docs, who are actual working scientists, are treated and paid like some sort of summer intern despite doing heavy lifting in life sciences, and the situation isn't much brighter for tenured researchers - and this race to the bottom is making itself felt in private industry as well.

I don't want scientists who are madly passionate and want to be ascetic monks for healing or some bullshit - I want scientists who are competent, well funded and reasonably compensated, working in concert and co-operation with colleagues who are the same.

I remarked to my wife the other night that I really wish Kennedy had declared the US was going to cure cancer by 1969, and have Johnson strongarm congress into believing that the Russkies were going to cancer us all to death if they didn't blank-check the CDC and NIH.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:01 AM on October 28, 2014 [18 favorites]


Back in an era where science was respected & trusted.

This was also the era when science conducted unethical tests on the disabled.
Two years later, Dr. Koprowski received a call from Letchworth Village, a home for mentally disabled children in Rockland County, N.Y. Fearing an outbreak of polio, the home asked him to vaccinate its children.

In February 1950, in the first human trial of a live polio vaccine, Dr. Koprowski vaccinated 20 children there. At the time, approval from the federal government was required to market drugs but not to test them.

Seventeen of the children developed antibodies against polio. (The other three turned out to have the antibodies already.) None of the children experienced complications.

Describing his trial at a scientific meeting the next year, Dr. Koprowski met with astonished displeasure. In an exchange recounted in Professor Oshinsky’s book, Sabin, who was present, accosted him, saying: “Why did you do it? Why? Why?”

Sabin’s objection was not to Dr. Koprowski’s testing the vaccine on cognitively disabled children — that was common practice then. It was to his having tested a live polio vaccine on any human being at all.
posted by sbutler at 10:01 AM on October 28, 2014 [5 favorites]


Sabin’s objection was not to Dr. Koprowski’s testing the vaccine on cognitively disabled children — that was common practice then. It was to his having tested a live polio vaccine on any human being at all.


Which obviously includes disabled children. I think there's misplaced outrage here.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:52 AM on October 28, 2014


Salk had no problem testing his vaccine on disabled children:
After successful tests on laboratory animals, it next had to be tested on human beings. On July 2, 1952, assisted by the staff at the D.T. Watson Home for Crippled Children, Jonas Salk injected 43 children with his killed virus vaccine. A few weeks after the Watson tests, Salk injected children at the Polk State School for the retarded and feeble-minded. In November 1953, at a conference in New York's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, he said, "I will be personally responsible for the vaccine." He announced that his wife and three sons had been among the first volunteers to be inoculated with his vaccine.
His objection to the Koprowski trials was purely scientific. He was (rightly) worried that a live vaccine would revert to virulence after passing through humans. He worried that Koprowski et al. would cause a polio outbreak by vaccinating against it. And IIRC he was right, that did happen in a couple cases.

Don't get me wrong: development of the polio vaccine ranks as one of humanity's greatest achievements. But I think it's really important to remember how we got there and admit our heros had great flaws.
posted by sbutler at 11:12 AM on October 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


Theirs is to win
If it kills them
They're just human
With wives and children

posted by maryr at 11:32 AM on October 28, 2014


Mr. BlahLaLa's father had polio, so this idea of dangerous diseases and the vaccines that saved so many lives is very real to him, and to me. And now we have an anti-vaxxer in the family. So horrible.
posted by BlahLaLa at 11:36 AM on October 28, 2014


The ethics of scientific experimentation in the early and mid 20th century were extremely troubling. (See also Lacks, Henrietta.) The concept of "informed consent" represents one of the great humanitarian breakthroughs of the past seventy years, as far as I'm concerned. That doesn't eliminate the great gift of the polio vaccine to the world.

My mother was in elementary school when the Salk vaccine was announced to be safe and effective. They announced it over the PA system at the school and dismissed everyone to go home early in celebration. To a one, the teachers all wept with joy. I don't think modern American parents can really grasp the terror polio represented before the Salk vaccine.
posted by KathrynT at 11:51 AM on October 28, 2014 [13 favorites]


sbutler: His objection to the Koprowski trials was purely scientific. He was (rightly) worried that a live vaccine would revert to virulence after passing through humans. He worried that Koprowski et al. would cause a polio outbreak by vaccinating against it. And IIRC he was right, that did happen in a couple cases.

Don't get me wrong: development of the polio vaccine ranks as one of humanity's greatest achievements. But I think it's really important to remember how we got there and admit our heros had great flaws.
Well, flaws of a certain nature.

To imply that Dr. Jonas Salk was experimenting on disabled children because their deaths would be less important to him emotionally is presuming a lot. It's far more plausible that he firmly and absolutely believed his vaccine would be harmless (the first human guinea pigs included his own children, after all), and experimentation on the disabled was easier to achieve.

Otherwise, you imply that Dr. Salk thought to himself, "First I'll risk killing the people I love most in all the world; then I'll continue experimention on these disposable subhumans." Utterly implausible.

So, we're left in a gray area of behavior: he did not follow not-yet-created ethical protocols for experimentation that a more perfect being might have sensed anyway, but he did speed up the literal salvation of thousands of children by his cavalier attitude towards future attitudes towards human experimentation.

I'll agree his flaws were great. I'd even go so far as to say they were terrific.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:53 PM on October 28, 2014 [11 favorites]


I contracted polio from the Sabin vaccine that still bubbles up as a fad every once in awhile. The Sabin vaccine, unlike the Salk, is live virus which leads to theories that it is more effective in building antibodies. There are a handful of kids around the world like me. I've met a couple. If I had gotten the Salk vaccine, I wouldn't be partially paralyzed, I wouldn't have been on an episode of NOVA, and I'd possibly not even remember the name of the guy who more or less cured the epidemic in the first place. Despite contracting the disease through the vaccine, which is basically anti-vaxxers' worst nightmare, I still tell anybody who will listen and some who won't of the stupidity of not vaccinating. Remember people like me when you meet idiots like that.
posted by oog at 2:04 PM on October 28, 2014 [20 favorites]


Obscure Reference: "I was given that vaccine for free in public school (5th grade, I believe.) Imagine what would happen if a public school tried something like this now."

As long as the parents give permission, no problem. Lots of public schools run full-fledged clinics -- including sexual health services, contraception, STD testing and treatment, and breastfeeding support for teen moms -- right in the schools.

Actually a couple of other moms and I were grousing today at school pickup that our kids COULDN'T get flu shots at school this year ... a couple years ago when they were rationed and children had priority, our county public health gave them out through the schools, with parental permission. It's SO much more convenient to get shots at school than to have to take half a day and go to the pediatrician!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:48 PM on October 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


Imagine if there was an Ebola vaccine... people would very much be demanding it. Fear is the critical factor, of course.
posted by rosswald at 7:37 PM on October 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


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