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01/04/2008 04:46 AM ID: 67461 Permalink   

New Vaccine Could Wipe Out Flu Pandemics


Researchers are encouraged by early human trials of a vaccination that holds the promise of destroying influenza pandemics. The vaccine is made by Cambridge-based Acambis and holds several advantages over existing flu vaccines.

It would not need to be reformulated on an annual basis to match the predominant strains of influenza, and it would not need to be cultured in fertilized chicken eggs; thus, it could be stockpiled for use when pandemic strains emerge.

Perhaps most importantly, existing vaccines attack portions of the flu virus that mutate rapidly, which can render the vaccine ineffective. Acambis identified an unchanging portion of the virus to attack, making it effective against any flu virus.

    WebReporter: l´anglais Show Calling Card      
ASSESS this news: BLOCK this news. Reason:
  by: ichi     01/04/2008 05:15 AM     
  by: Zmethod     01/04/2008 05:23 AM     
  Sounds too good  
to be true.
  by: walter3ca   01/04/2008 05:49 AM     
  Not so fast....  
Evolution being what it is, particularly for viruses, the "unchanging" part targeted by the vaccine will inevitably mutate as a response. Kinda reminds me of Roundup ready seeds and how the weeds are evolving to overcome it...but that's a whole different story...
  by: bugmenot   01/04/2008 07:01 AM     
  Hope it works  
this would just be wonderful.
  by: captainJane     01/04/2008 07:30 AM     
  Now you have to ask youself…  
Are flu pandemics nature’s ways of controlling the human population?
If we pull the plug on natures control what will control the population?

Before medical science became so effective at saving lives the world’s human population growth was very slow. Without medical intervention natural selection removed many people from the gene pool with defects physical and genetic. Many others fell victim to plagues, infection from minor injuries and common illness. With the advent of effective antibiotics and other medical procedures the population has exploded. Is medical science really doing the human race a favor? Are we evolving or de-evolving as a species?

I feel this is an awesome discovery too but….be careful what you ask for, you just might get it.
  by: Valkyrie123     01/04/2008 04:33 PM     
  On Virii and Man  
If its unchanging, its probably pretty important, it may change, we may wipe out the flu virus altogether and another dealier virus take its place, who knows.
If we can stop flu, I'd say its worth a shit.

Dedolito will probably turn up at some point and explain properly

As for Population.

Although flu pandemics, all pandemics actualy, kill a lot of people, they're pretty rare, one a century and you can rightly feel annoyed.
They also tend to kill those most likely to catch it, and so dont often reoccur, unless the Russians and Americans dig up frozen bodies that died from it and reengineer the bloody thing, like spanish flu.

Our main population control will always be food.
Its virtualy unthinkable that we'd be unable to build enough shelter, were a long way away from depleting fresh water, so that leaves food as out must have, and this year we ate 620 tonnes of grain and grew 611...
  by: AnsweringQuestions     01/04/2008 05:12 PM     
My take on it has always been that since our medical technology diminishes the element of "survival of the fittest," the way in which we evolve - if at all - will be based on other factors yet to be discovered. I suppose it's possible that we'll just "level off" like so many other organisms seem to have done, unchanged for millions of years. But, I think our environment changes too fast for something like that to occur.
  by: caution2     01/05/2008 12:02 AM     
.. the target is the M2 protein channel. It's found in the protein coat of the viral particle and in the cell membranes of infected cells. It's a pretty sophisticated bit of molecular machinery – it’s a protein channel that selectively opens and transports protons across the membrane coat in order to regulate pH levels, which the virus needs to do if it wants to replicate in the host cell.

Because of how complex its structure is, it's not very tolerable to change. It's a highly evolved piece of machinery that doesn't function very well if altered. i.e. It is a result of an escalated arms race with the immune system, and a less efficient form of the channel is not effective in modern cells.

That's not to say that it couldn't evolve to protect its function while changing it's form (i.e. rendering the vaccine inert), but I suppose it's a question as to if it will have time.

A coordinated effort to vaccinate the entire world population (as we did with smallpox) could in theory kill off the active viral population, and if we could find and eradicate the reservoirs we could very well send human influenza the way of smallpox.

But that’s not to say either of these disease would be truly gone. Reservoirs can exist in remote locations or lie dormant for years. That’s why we still get our smallpox vaccinations – in case we come into contact with such reservoirs we don’t give it a chance to cause a pandemic, which would give it opportunity to go through hundreds of thousands of generations and evolve.
  by: Dedolito     01/05/2008 12:34 AM     
Stupidness is how nature controls the population.
  by: Aaxel21   01/05/2008 02:49 AM     
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