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Biotech Medicine Science

Swine Flu Genetics Suggest a Vaccine Is Possible 116

Posted by timothy
from the shhh-no-one's-calling-it-that-any-more dept.
Kristina at Science News writes "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced findings May 1 from genetic studies of swine flu virus from six different countries. A strong similarity from country to country suggests all the infections are from one strain, making a vaccine a strong possibility. It will be several months at least before such a vaccine would be developed, though."
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Swine Flu Genetics Suggest a Vaccine Is Possible

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    lol.pigf.lu [lol.pigf.lu]

  • This is great news because gives time to laboratories when the virus returns next fall.

  • H1N1 A flu, please (Score:2, Informative)

    by mangu (126918)

    Let's keep things straight, this misnaming has already caused too much harm.

    • by Kligat (1244968) on Saturday May 02, 2009 @07:49PM (#27801775)
      I think we should rename AIDS so as to placate the hearing aids industry. We could call it Sean, or Christine.
    • by artor3 (1344997) on Saturday May 02, 2009 @08:00PM (#27801823)

      Too late for that. Everyone knows it as swine flu... having the media call it something else won't change a thing.

      The real thing that the media needs to be putting straight is just how little of a threat this flu is. It hasn't been any more lethal than seasonal flu, nor is it really spreading as fast as was originally believed.

      The media is causing a panic simply for ratings, which is quite despicable when you think about it.

      • Do you think anyone will remember the Swine Flu in 10 years? It will only be seen in old printed media aka media archives. So yes the media calling it something else will change what history calls it.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by artor3 (1344997)

          What does that have to do with anything? The whole reason for people wanting to change the name is to convince the populace that it's safe to buy and eat pork.

          • There's a second reason: muslims and jews don't eat pork. I say, fuck them and fuck the pig farmers. It's swine flu.
      • by blueskies (525815)

        It hasn't been any more lethal than seasonal flu, nor is it really spreading as fast as was originally believed.

        ORLY? So you are saying more than 1000 people have been infected and less than one has died?

        In the US it has still been about 10x more fatal than seasonal flu. I'm not sure what seasonal flu you are talking about.

        • It's still a wet fart compared to fatal car accident numbers. Why isn't anyone going bananas when he sees a car?

          • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

            by pnuema (523776)
            Because the last time we saw a flu with this mortality rate, it killed between 20 and 100 million. Back then, we had a sixth of the world's current population. So, taking into account modern medicine (the following is just a wild ass guess), let's say it only kills 10% of what it would have in 1918. That's half a million dead in the US alone (300 million people * .4 infection penetration * .04 mortality * .1 = 480,000 dead.) That's more than Katrina, 9/11, the tsunami, and all of the earthquakes for the las
            • by icebike (68054)

              > Because the last time we saw a flu with this mortality rate, it killed between 20 and 100 million.

              Citation needed.

              We have no idea of the mortality rate of this flu. We don't even have reliable ways of distinguishing it from run-of-the-mill flu on any significant scale. Nobody knows the infection rate.

              In fact this is nothing at all like 1918. That flu killed young, and old alike, and everyone in between. Strong young adults died by the thousands.

              This flu kills small children and the aged only. anyo

              • by blueskies (525815)

                Seriously? you can't find a citation on your own?
                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_flu [wikipedia.org]

                They are only now saying that the current H1N1 strain isn't as bad as first thought.

                I mean what do you want? Would you feel better if they were proved right and millions died? It's not like a 6 month to 7 year interval of fear mongering. It was one week of prudent precautions. Don't be a big baby about it.

                I mean do you really believe the CDC is fear mongering so they can build a $500 billion budget for a war on flu?

          • by blueskies (525815)

            What don't you understand about exponential progressions?

            Why isn't anyone going bananas when he sees a car?

            Can you phrase your question in a more ignorant manner?

            You sound like the people who talk about a the chances of a tornado making a fully working 747 out of parts as proof that evolution couldn't possibly be valid. You're in good company.

        • In the US it has still been about 10x more fatal than seasonal flu. I'm not sure what seasonal flu you are talking about.

          In the US, one baby died from the swine flu. That's not really enough for a statistical analysis.

          • Furthermore, the single US death (that 23-month old Mexican child) was reported by health officials to already have been afflicted by a number of underlying conditions prior to his swine flu exposure.

            But hey, that information doesn't sound nearly frightening enough, so let's just shove it off to the footnotes, yes?

          • by blueskies (525815)

            Agreed. But if we are going to extrapolate, we need to be concerned with worst-case scenarios, only because the worst-case scenarios can be most effectively mitigated by early action.

      • by pipingguy (566974) *
        The media is causing a panic simply for ratings, which is quite despicable when you think about it.

        There is a vacuum to fill (started by CNN decades ago), so it gets filled. With what, they don't really care.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Opportunist (166417)

        You know what bothers me the most? That it's invariably people who don't give a shit about the "common flu" who go headless chicken over this craze.

        There's no vaccine. Yes. Did you get inoculated against the normal flu? No? THEN WHY THE FUCK DO YOU CARE?

        • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

          by pnuema (523776)
          Because the last time we saw a flu with this mortality rate, it killed between 20 and 100 million. Back then, we had a sixth of the world's current population. So, taking into account modern medicine (the following is just a wild ass guess), let's say it only kills 10% of what it would have in 1918. That's half a million dead in the US alone (300 million people * .4 infection penetration * .04 mortality * .1 = 480,000 dead.) That's more than Katrina, 9/11, the tsunami, and all of the earthquakes for the las
          • by icebike (68054)

            One copy of this fear mongering nonsense per SlashDot story is enough. You had your say up-thread.

            Stop your fear mongering and go have a beer.

          • You're seriously comparing the US 1918 to the US today? Seriously? Malnutrished people that just returned from a trench war vs. overfed people who have all the time to be lazy at home and cure their sickness?

            You talked about a too small sample. And indeed we do have a too small sample. 658 cases reported, half of that in Mexico. You honestly suggest that I go nuts over that? 300 Mexicans of ... dunno, how many, a hundred millions? After a month. If we're beyond 10,000 in July, we can talk about some serious

        • by ultranova (717540)

          You know what bothers me the most? That it's invariably people who don't give a shit about the "common flu" who go headless chicken over this craze.

          Why should that bother you? Get some popcorn, sit back, and enjoy the farce. "The world was doomed, but it kept running anyway." -The Prince of Lies, by James Lowder

      • by MrMarket (983874) on Sunday May 03, 2009 @12:17AM (#27803431) Journal
        The drift from pigs to humans (and therefore no vaccine in production) caused the initial concern. Furthermore, this could come back more virulent in the winter. The 1918 flu was also H1N1, and it had three waves [wikipedia.org]. The second wave was the big killer.
        • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

          by rts008 (812749)

          The drift from pigs to humans (and therefore no vaccine in production) caused the initial concern.

          You can't be serious...can you???

          I am safe in my bunker. Fsck the 2nd and 3rd waves that your hypothetical scenarios proscribe due to your limited imagination.

          I anticipated this airborne vector unlike any other entity could do. You are doomed. I will counter attack from my vault when your stupidity evaporates.

          Drift from pigs to humans?
          Duke Nukem Forever has not been released yet, so ....WTF?

          It was not the 'drift from pigs to humans' that was the concern, it was the ease that it was transmitted from human to

          • by MrMarket (983874)

            Go ahead and keep knee-jerking shit, and deny what is actually happening...don't want to upset your agenda.

            Whoa! Struck a nerve there. I guess it's not really paranoia if they are really out to get you. Boo!

        • > The drift from pigs to humans...

          Citation, please?

          • by MrMarket (983874)

            > The drift from pigs to humans...

            Citation, please?

            From the CDC [cdc.gov]: "This virus was originally referred to as âoeswine fluâ because laboratory testing showed that many of the genes in this new virus were very similar to influenza viruses that normally occur in pigs in North America."

      • by tsa (15680)

        Here in NL people have been calling it Mexican Flu for a while now. Works fine.

    • by 7-Vodka (195504) on Saturday May 02, 2009 @08:07PM (#27801859) Journal

      Actually the H1N1 does not mean what you think it means.

      The H stands for Hemagglutanin, a glycoprotein; the N stands for Neuraminidase, a glycosilated enzyme. Both are found on the surface of the virus which can expose them as a good target to use. There are actually other abbreviations referring to different parts of the influenza A RNA based genome.

      H1N1 just indicates the type of Hemagglutanin and Neuraminidase... There are other H1N1 flu viruses as well, like the so called spanish flu which actually originated in the USA. H1N1 doesn't specify a strain originating from pigs and so swine flu might even be a better denomination.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by 7-Vodka (195504)

        Also now having rtfa, I noticed this is even mentioned:

        influenza comes in many strains, each a slightly different version of the flu virus. The new flu strain infecting people around the globe is unique in that, although it has a well-known surface protein combination, H1N1, the H in this protein pairing has swine origins. Whether this trait will give this strain of flu virus unusual characteristics remains to be seen."

    • by Wansu (846)

      What should we call it then? ... the other white flu?

      • by rts008 (812749)

        We should not 'call' it anything, and just get the fuck on with our lives.
        Let who ever, wherever, and whenever label it as they see fit.
        Let 'Demographics' determine what is relevant, maybe?

        P.S. you 'epic failed' on your 'funny' attempt.

        ..the other white flu?

        That should have been: 'the other, other white flu'.

        Turn in your geek card on the way out.
        Don't let the door hit you on the ass. (yeah, I noticed your 3 digit UID)

    • by solweil (1168955)
      right, so much harm.
  • Stop the madness (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wondercool (460316) on Saturday May 02, 2009 @07:40PM (#27801721) Homepage

    Sofar it looks like this is just another influenza variant.

    Stop panicking, it's really not interesting enough. What has taken us? Some irrational fear of death? No other news? Organisations beating their drum for self preservation?

    Please?!

    • by MollyB (162595)

      Yes, but "just another variant" with one or two added amino acids (statistically almost inevitable?)* from mutation might have made this a Big Deal. We can't know in advance which variant will 'poop out' or which might bring about the next lethal pandemic. We got lucky, so far...
      I agree the takeaway is less dramatic than the story has been hyped to date. Maybe this is just a Good Thing, even if the news is anticlimactic?

      *IANAn Epidemiologist.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by jd (1658)

      What's interesting is:

      (a) The total lack of action by the Mexican Government, when it was still considered entirely possible that it was going to be extremely dangerous.

      (b) The totally inappropriate responses by most of the other world Governments, and

      (c) The very slow and questionable response by health care officials who have been preparing for a major flu epidemic for some time now and AUGHT to have much better procedures by this time.

      This particular strain looks like it's relatively mild. It is missing

      • by maxume (22995)

        What world governments responded inappropriately?

        • Well, Egypt had basically a national slaughtering of pigs in order to "combat" the flu....
          • by maxume (22995)

            Sure, but that is obvious and boring to complain about, I want to know what 'most' he is talking about, not about the radical reaction in Egypt that pretty clearly has an ulterior motive.

            Basically, as far as I can figure, he thinks that there should have been a much harder travel shutdown (to control things as much as possible), or there should have been much less public disclosure about things (because the public reaction has been far beyond what would be justified by the situation).

            It is tough to evaluate

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by jd (1658)

              Well, no. It's pointless shutting down the transit system, and sticking infrared cameras everywhere (as oa few places did) was unlikely to produce results either.

              Britain ordered hundreds of thousands of filtered masks. Which might stop patients from being infected by health-care workers, but would not have stopped the health-care workers from being infected. They did not order much in the way of antivirals, which were known to be effective.

              America closed some schools down, which did indeed shut down the vec

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by zoney_ie (740061)

                Sick kids going to work with their parents? What on earth? If that is common in your area, it's fairly awful! Sick kids here in Ireland mostly rightly get to stay at home, either with a parent already at home (raising a family, running a household) or with a parent who simply takes time off work (certain occupations would be tricky for that, but it would seldom be both parents with such a job). Sometimes the employer might insist on annual leave being used (there is a statutory minimum of 21 days in additio

                • by drinkypoo (153816)

                  Sick kids here in Ireland mostly rightly get to stay at home, either with a parent already at home (raising a family, running a household) or with a parent who simply takes time off work

                  I don't know if that's really true, or if you just live on an Ivory tower, but in the US we already declared kids having to be home by themselves after school every day an epidemic and gave it a name ("latch key kids") and then got bored of it and forgot about it. The problem is still just as bad as ever or worse, but we gave up on fixing it. In this country, we can't afford to take the day off and spend it with a sick kid. Nor can the typical family afford to have a parent at home full-time.

              • They did not order much in the way of antivirals, which were known to be effective.

                I don't know where you got your information from, but you are misinformed.

                http://www.healthcarerepublic.com/news/index.cfm?fuseaction=HCR.News.GP.LatestNews.Article&nNewsID=901865&sHashCode=#AddComment [healthcarerepublic.com]

                The UK has a large stock of anti-virals, and has ordered more - they're now up to 50 million doses of Tamiflu ordered, which is quite good coverage given the population is around 60m. The masks are of debatable utility, but may help healthcare workers if coupled with goggles and other precautions like

      • I for one am glad they don't waste a few hundred million on derailing drug labs and other emergency control every time there's a media panic.
        • by jd (1658)

          Look at all the genetic genealogy and genetic disease labs around the world - many going out of business from having too few orders. It would have derailed no-one if one or two Governments had decided the smart thing would be to do a complete analysis of the virus - and a vulnerability test on those who died vs. those who recovered, to see if there was any obvious indication of why there was a difference between Mexico and everywhere else.

      • by russotto (537200)

        (Not that this is new. After Y2K, did we see any effort to fix the 2038 bug? Nooooo. It's a long time off and we'll have replaced all our software by then, just like we did with our two-digit-date software before 2000.)

        Actually, yes. Or, at least, there's a reason for that 64-bit time_t in modern Unixes.

        • by jd (1658)

          And how many people use a modern Unix? Remember, Linux (the most modern *ix out there) has only reached 1% uptake. And even then, it won't help if the apps are only using 32-bit time_t structures.

          • Speaking as someone in the trenches during Y2K, having to do that again really doesn't worry me. For most of us, it was just another task, and for some COBOL programmers, it let them make a shitload extra on contracting fees.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by KevinIsOwn (618900)
        What an incredible bunch of nonsense. The response by governments so far has actually be surprisingly good- the disease barely spread outside of North America so far, and even within North America its reach is rather limited. Had governments not acted this wouldn't be the case at all. The infections in New York City alone would have spread out of control.

        Where do you come off accusing the officials of being inept or corrupt (or slow despite preparations)? You give absolutely no examples, but there are plen
      • No, pretty much all of your "points" are incorrect or misleading. You're just an attention whore.

        Let this be a lesson to all readers. A low /. ID doesn't confer any special reasoning powers on anybody. It just means that there were morons with internet access from the beginning.

      • by canuck08 (1421409)

        Nonsense.

        (a) Mexico's response.
        Detection and tracking of the outbreak has been better than ever before thanks to the new arrangements and co-operation between national governments and the WHO.
        Co-operation and diligence has resulted in what may be the fastest detection and response to a new virus in history.

        (b) Other government responses.
        I am only closely tracking the response of Canada's public health agency and that of America's CDC.
        They have been doing all the right things.
        Testing, tracking, sequencing t

    • by FudRucker (866063)
      1. but but but the mass media whores need something to sensationalize.
      2. the government needs another excuse to spend billions of tax dollars.
      A. this flu story is just another load of bullcrap shoved in front of the clueless television zombies that buy everything that is broadcast in front of them, its no worse than any other flu bug that goes around every year...
    • We are irrationally afraid of death. Because we expect to live long.

      I think it can be summed up like that. We kinda expect that we'll reach retirement age, watch our grandchildren grow up and generally don't die unless we're like 80, at the very least. So anything that we can't really prepare for and that threatens this plan, no matter how insignificant the odds, creates a panic.

      Terrorism. Your chances to die in a terrorist attack are one tenth of a percent. The annual death rate in the US is 8.27/1000, wit

    • I agree. To me the headline says "Swine flu really is just the flu, go get your flu vaccine as usual". The whole point of going to get flu vaccines until now has been the exact same reason: influenza kills people in any form.

  • How exciting! Because, you know, it's really dangerous, and well worthy of all the attention in the media. Isn't it? It's going to kill millions of people around the world, right? The 191..uh, make that 101 people in Mexico is just the start. Once it kicks in, the millions of (insert currency) it'll cost to develop a vaccine is going to be well worth it.

  • by filmmaker (850359) on Saturday May 02, 2009 @07:48PM (#27801771) Homepage
    about those torture memos with all this swine flu brouhaha, haven't we?
  • Someone should do a study to see if it is socially possible to stop it with vaccinations. Something [vaclib.org] tells me [whale.to] that is [thinktwice.com] a better [ageofautism.com] question. [generationrescue.org]

    • Well, global statistics for immunizations are in the 80s, with developed countries up in the low 90s, (WHO), so they aren't a big factor.

      Remember, the idiocy of a group is inversely proportional to its loudness.
    • by Ironchew (1069966)

      That is the hardest sentence in the world to read. apt-get vaclib? Whales? Autism generation? Your non-sequitor was drowned out by my overactive imagination, you insensitive clod!

      Oh, and a sentence of links will never be browsed. Ever. Except by weird things like the Fasterfox plugin.

  • That's just because I've been letting it spread. Once I invest my mutation points into drug resistance, it's over. I'm just waiting for it to infect Madagascar first; I don't want them closing their sea port.
  • Interestingly, on the day that the CDC decided it was possible to craft a vaccine, these guys [prweb.com] issued a press release saying they have one ready for testing...

    • by indi0144 (1264518)
      Hi Fellow American Concerned Citizen
      What you're talking about sounds too much just like a conspiracy theory and just because of that you know that everyone reading your post will say "OMG it can be truth but talking about it would make other people lose any credibility on me, better hush. Now, curse that damn Mexicans" Is that what you want? Huh? Sounds a little racist for me so stop wasting everyone's time and just gather somewhere with other people, go to a baseball park, or basketball arena, don't forget
  • ...can be found here: RSOE EDIS - Pandemic Monitoring System [idemc.org]. Looks quite scary.

    FYI, they also happen to have a Disaster and Emergency AlertMap [hisz.rsoe.hu].

  • Can a doctor explain this? Only Mexicans seem to die from this influenza strain. The one baby that died in the USA was a Mexican child. Other people don't even get particularly ill from it and it seems to be milder than more common strains of flu. WTF?
    • by zxjio (1475207)
      It was said in a BBC News article a few days ago, which I can't find at the moment, that Mexico has so many deaths because there is a culture that you go to the doctor only as a last resort, and by then the infected people are really bad.
    • by ChibiOne (716763)
      It doesn't take a doctor to explain this. Any Mexican, like myself, can tell you

      The Mexican public health system sucks.
      The private health system is great, but expensive, especially for a country where minimum wage is 5 USD per day. Not hour, day.
      This has created a culture in which most people avoid going to the doctor unless it is absolutely necessary. For example, say, when you have been experiencing a 40 C (104 F) degree fever for two or three days. By this time, it's been said, antivirals are not as
    • by rve (4436)

      Can a doctor explain this?

      Only Mexicans seem to die from this influenza strain. The one baby that died in the USA was a Mexican child. Other people don't even get particularly ill from it and it seems to be milder than more common strains of flu. WTF?

      There are only two logical explanations:

      1 - The Mexican flu is a lot more contagious and less lethal than initially thought. Perhaps there are tens of thousands of people in Mexico sick with this flu, with a mortality of less than 1 in 100. In that case there haven't been enough cases outside Mexico for a lot of deaths yet.

      2 - Advanced medical care is keeping critically ill patients in the US alive

      The suggestion that a virus can only kill Mexicans is just retarded.

    • by canuck08 (1421409)

      There is as yet no explanation for this.
      There is some speculation but for the moment we cannot say with any confidence why there have been no deaths outside of Mexico.

      It is worth noting that the number of infections outside of Mexico is not yet high enough to provide a reliable statistical sample.

      The sequencing of the complete genome may yield some clues.

    • Most of the deaths so far have been caused not by flu itself, but by secondary infections that are able to invade the body once the flu has weakened the immune system. If you are given antibiotics early on, then this is much, much, less likely to happen. Once the initial scare happened, everyone with flu-like symptoms started rushing to their doctor and was treated correctly. Before then, people just did what you normally do with flu and tried to wait it out.
  • Has anyone you know had this flu? If so what were the symptoms? Also list city and state. Would be interesting if /. bettered Google Flu.

    Cough cough,
    Jim

    • Nor was my ladyfriend, who works with the public every day. Last week both of us were achy, runny nose, and had a sore throat. Mostly gone now. Wonder if we got this dreaded swine flu? Wonder how many people had it or are having it right now, but just don't have any symptoms that merit anything more than a hot shower, ibuprofen, and tea?

      • My uneducated guess is that this flavor of H1N1 is

        a) As you said mild to very serious. For example were you two up on previous flu immunizations? I was but still had mild flu like symptoms.

        b) A lot more prevalent than we think. For example in Dallas TX, lots of schools are closing because someone's kid was sick. What about their parents and family? Those people might not be testing.

        c) With a Mexican probable source and a USA Mexican underground economy, these cases will be all over the place but unreported

        • by coryking (104614) *

          Neither of us has ever had flu shot and we never plan to. You gotta give your immune system something to do or it will slack off and not function when you actually need it.

          I'll bet it is way more prevalent than we think.

  • This is a fascinating concept, come to think of it. Individually, we have been using an adaptive immune system for millions of years.

    Now we can isolate the virus in a lab, create a vaccine for it, and spread it all around the world. Civilization itself is an organism with its own immune system.

  • The vaccine ACAM-FLU-A, made by Acambis, should give lifelong protection against all strains of influenza A - the cause of pandemics. It can protect against swine flu (H1N1), avian flu (H5N1) and all other known strains of type A.
    Introducing something like this will mean eradication of flu because vaccine targets region of influenza virus which is common for all its types and doesn't change when virus is mutating.
    Right now the second phase of clinical testing is performed, first phase has been finished su

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