Science Media: Why do I even bother…

Me, about three weeks ago:

Super Awesome influenza antibodies: Slightly more helpful than Super Awesome HIV antibodies

This morning:

Weve had broadly neutralizing antibodies in HIV World for like, 20 years now. We still dont have an HIV-1 vaccine. While it is ‘hoped’ that identifying these kinds of antibodies will help aid in vaccine design, I am unaware of a real-world example by which one could hang those hopes. There is no precedent for assuming those hopes’ will ever result in ‘better’ vaccines. I wish Influenza World the best of luck in their attempts, but I am not even remotely hopeful for a ‘universal flu vaccine’ from finding these antibodies. Im hopeful for a novel treatment for emergency situations.


  1. #1 Optimus Primate
    July 29, 2011

    Have you seen this?

  2. #2 Connor
    July 29, 2011

    Could antibody not be used in a prophylactic/therapeutic manner prior to any use in developing vaccines?
    I do agree that the media response has been a bit nuts with this!

  3. #3 ERV
    July 29, 2011

    Optimus–Nope! Ill check it out tonight!

    Connor– Totally! Drug resistant forms, random scary virulent forms before we can get a vaccine formulated, old/young/sick folks who cant fight influenza on their own– this antibody might one day be a great weapon for MDs to have in their tool box.

    Not sure how useful it will be to the vaccine designers, though.

  4. #4 Connor
    July 29, 2011

    I always wondered that if you understood what the amazing antibody recognised could you somehow reverse engineer the epitope sequence in a way that would allow you to generate the peptide and use that in vaccine development?

    Then this may force the persons immune system to target that sequence. Not sure how feasible that would be. :/

  5. #5 Kevin Crawford
    July 29, 2011

    The following is from a Crucell PR:

    In December 2008, Crucell announced this discovery and reported the results of preclinical studies involving a representative of this new mAb class, CR6261. The antibody was shown to neutralize a broad range of influenza viruses, including the currently circulating H1N1 seasonal flu strains (genetic descendants of the virus responsible for 40 million deaths during the pandemic of 1918–1919) and the highly pathogenic H5N1 (‘bird flu’) virus. More recent tests have shown that CR6261 also combats the novel H1N1 virus that caused the 2009 pandemic.

    Since then J&J acquired Crucell. I don’t know what clinical trial stage they are at, but probably further then these recent reports.

  6. #6 mary
    July 29, 2011

    yup..almost as bad as nasa and arsenic hype…

  7. #7 Spence
    July 30, 2011

    Media reporting of science seems like it will tend to suck more than anything else. Particularly when it comes to the treatment of diseases and cures.

    The journos want headlines such as “magical cure for disease X” or “half human population to be wiped out by disease Y by next Thursday”. Mind you scientists can sometimes tailor their press release to what the journos want to increase the likelihood of column inches.

    These news articles are a pretty typical result. I can’t see any obvious way to solve it other than keep doing what you’re doing to get accurate info out there.

  8. #8 Kevin
    August 1, 2011

    @ Conor – Trouble is, even if we know the exact peptide sequence (which in itself would take forever), the antibodies YOU generate against that sequence will be different and random. No guarantee that it will be effective.

    @ Kevin C.- That’s a monoclonal antibody for use the way Conor mentioned in #2 – not a vaccine target.

  9. #9 Kevin Crawford
    August 1, 2011

    I believe I understand the point being made: If the epitope that a universal antibody recognizes is used as a vaccine there is no expectation that everyone will elicit the universal antibody response; but presumably some will.

    I was just making the point that pre-clinical studies with a universal flu antibody have been around since 2008.

    Good luck with your TLRs research.

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