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Malaria Vaccine Nearing Reality 209

Posted by samzenpus
from the a-spoonful-of-sugar dept.
colin_faber writes "Right on the heels of the Bill Gates BusinessWeek article discussing the importance of disease prevention and cure over technological deployment is news from CNN that U.S. researchers may have a viable vaccine for malaria. If true, this could change the lives of up to 3.3 billion people living in malaria danger zones and allow us to do away with this disease, which kills hundreds of thousands of people."
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Malaria Vaccine Nearing Reality

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 09, 2013 @08:10AM (#44518689)

    yeah... Until concerned parents boycott the vaccine because they think it causes autism.

    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      Actually in Muslim countries extremists are telling people that the polio vaccine is a way for the west to get your DNA so they can track you down and kill you later. Or that it causes AIDs or that it is a plot to sterilize Muslim girls. They also say that is how the US found Bin Laden. None of it is true and there have even been murders of the people trying to give the vaccines. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/09/world/africa/in-nigeria-polio-vaccine-workers-are-killed-by-gunmen.html?_r=0 [nytimes.com]
      And please do not

    • Pretty sure diseases mutating around the vaccine is usually a bigger problem, albeit a less infuriating one. We know the diseases lack nervous systems, the parents we expect DO have brain cells.
  • Heals? (Score:5, Funny)

    by somersault (912633) on Friday August 09, 2013 @08:14AM (#44518715) Homepage Journal

    Genius pun, or awful spelling?

  • by Smivs (1197859) <smivs@smivsonline.co.uk> on Friday August 09, 2013 @08:15AM (#44518725) Homepage Journal
    Think of the Plasmodium!
  • by x_IamSpartacus_x (1232932) on Friday August 09, 2013 @08:16AM (#44518727)
    It's definitely something to be celebrated that we're nearing the mark of a viable vaccine. Unfortunately, the hardest hit areas by Malaria are not places where vaccine distribution is

    Easy
    Affordable by those who need it
    I would love to see this vaccine become a reality but I'm not very hopeful that this would have a price tag that many African nations could afford to give out to their populations for free or, if not free, the pennies the average citizen could afford. Mozambique, where I live and work, is VERY hard hit by Malaria but it's rural areas are very poor and the medicine distribution points in the CITIES struggle to keep vaccines refrigerated and properly handled. There is much development to be done in many of the nations who see high death rates from Malaria before we can use phrases like "allow us to do away with this disease". I do hope to see the disease done away with but let's not assume that with the development of the vaccine that that victory is imminent.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 09, 2013 @08:24AM (#44518779)

      I thought the whole point of Bill Gates' foundation's attempts to find a vaccine for Malaria was to:

      1. create a vaccine
      2. make lots of it for cheap
      3. find ways to distribute it everywhere as cheap as possible
      4. help distribute it everywhere

      Seems to me that if they keep throwing money at the problems (refrigeration, handling) they will eventually succeed.

      • It's nice to see a voice of reason in a sea of people who just can't wait to point out all the ways this won't work. Everyone successfully vaccinated is a success story, this isn't a binary effort.
        • I wouldn't call it a success story unless they also stop people having so many kids out there. Though actually part of the reason they have so many kids is because some end up dying of course..

          • I'm sorry, but this is a sick attitude. We have the resources to keep these people alive, any person saved from suffering and death is a success story - full stop.
            • Who is "we"? How do you know you're stopping suffering, rather than actually creating even more starvation due to more mouths to feed? There's a difference between a "sick attitude", being pragmatic, and making things worse because you're so scared of hitting that cute little animal that you then drive your car off the road and kill everyone in the vehicle.

      • Not to mention that people like me who will pay a few hundred dollars to get a malaria vaccination will help fund it's manufacture and distribution to the people who can't afford it.

      • by spune (715782)
        The Gates' Foundation plan in full:

        1. Open new clinics to operate on an unsustainable and inhumane for-profit basis without investigating medical history of personnel
        2. Fail to pay to keep them open such that market forces and competition result in a net loss of clinics in target countries
        3. Pay off a bunch of politicians to protect clinic policy, furthermore pay more politicians to expand privatization and austerity across the board
        4. Get a vaccine from somewhere
        5. Make lots of it for cheap
        6. Sell
    • Many of the areas hardest hit by malaria are the same areas stricken by endemic poverty, corruption, famine, etc.. There is a long way to go before curing malaria even puts a dent in their problems.

      • Perhaps if more people were to survive to and through productive adulthood instead of dying early to malaria, less effort would need to be spent on rearing children. The savings to a society from less loss of people to diseasemight help toward fighting poverty.
      • Many of the areas hardest hit by malaria are the same areas stricken by endemic poverty, corruption, famine, etc.. There is a long way to go before curing malaria even puts a dent in their problems.

        Doesn't mean we shouldn't try - I think people who say this truly don't understand the scope of the Malaria problem.

        Malaria kills 1.2 MILLION people EVERY year. That's like everyone in Dallas dying, every year. Well over half those people are children under the age of five. Sure, democracy and the abse

        • by cellocgw (617879)

          Malaria kills 1.2 MILLION people EVERY year. That's like everyone in Dallas dying, every year.

          You say that like killing off Dallas is a bad thing. Can we take out North Carolina and Florida as well?

    • by gaspyy (514539) on Friday August 09, 2013 @08:44AM (#44518893)

      Well, Bill Gates was showing a special container that doesn't require electricity and can keep medicine refrigerated for up to 50 days at high outside temperatures.
      The whole point of a malaria vaccine is to make it affordable for poor nations. The demand for a malaria vaccine in rich countries is pretty low.

  • Because you shoot people in the arm.

    But it's not an area that I'll be putting money into.

  • Early days yet (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dtmos (447842) * on Friday August 09, 2013 @08:40AM (#44518871)

    Having a vaccine that must be injected intravenously (not just intramuscularly), five times, in order to be effective is an interesting scientific advance (as stated in TFA), but isn't what one would call a practical solution to the malaria problem in the underdeveloped world (also as stated in TFA). Also keep in mind that many other proposed vaccines have looked good initially, but failed to pass muster later on, and that this trial was very, very small:

    Researchers reported that the six volunteers who received five intravenous doses of the vaccine did not contract malaria when exposed to the microscopic parasite. Of the nine who received four doses, three contracted the disease. Of 12 who received no vaccine, 11 became infected.

    It's a big stretch to go from six protected individuals to hundreds of millions, so I suggest that the champagne for the "End of Malaria" party not be put on ice just yet. While it is an interesting result, I think someone describing the status of the malaria vaccine as "nearing reality" isn't a very good judge of distance.

    • by jittles (1613415)

      Having a vaccine that must be injected intravenously (not just intramuscularly), five times, in order to be effective is an interesting scientific advance (as stated in TFA), but isn't what one would call a practical solution to the malaria problem in the underdeveloped world (also as stated in TFA). Also keep in mind that many other proposed vaccines have looked good initially, but failed to pass muster later on, and that this trial was very, very small:

      I got bit by a dog as a child. They could not find the animal and, due to the nature of the attack, there was concern that it may be rabid. I had to have 7 rabies shots over the course of about 5 weeks. Yes they were intramuscular, but it was worth every shot to not succumb to rabies. Something is better than nothing.

  • by Dr. Manhattan (29720) <[sorceror171] [at] [gmail.com]> on Friday August 09, 2013 @08:47AM (#44518915) Homepage
    From TFA: "The samples were weakened by radiation and then frozen."

    It was five years ago I read about this [nytimes.com], where they weakened a virus by actually re-coding in with the 'most pessimal' version of its genome. Same proteins, but reproduces three orders of magnitude slower.

    And I haven't heard anything since. Does anyone know what's been going on with that? I suppose re-coding a whole single-celled organism might be more difficult/expensive than a virus, but still... the problem with point-mutations weaking a disease is that point-mutations can be reversed. Eventually someone's going to get sick from the vaccine itself. (Still, if the vaccine's effective it's a better bet, but if you can eliminate that chance...)

  • why don't they (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rossdee (243626) on Friday August 09, 2013 @08:54AM (#44518965)

    why don't they instead find a way to get rid of the fscking mosquitoes ?

    Malaria isn't the only disease spread by them, athough it might be the biggest killer
    and they affect many other parts of the world besides Africa.

    • They're doing both. The Gates Foundation also funds Nathan Myhrvold's company which is developing a laser-based system that shoots down mosquitoes [ted.com] (a must-see video, by the way, FF to the end for actual video of the system at work). They've spent $ 2 Billion [gatesfoundation.org] so far.

      • by jsepeta (412566)

        but only rich Americans can afford Mosquito Lasers.

      • Now, if only they'd stop making patent trolling using shell companies (e.g. Lodsys, a shell company of Intellectual Ventures, which has attacked hundreds, if not thousands, of app developers for using in-app payments) their primary business, I might actually like Intellectual Ventures.

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by wiredog (43288)

      They did. DDT works wonders for getting rid of mosquitos.

      Also birds, fish, beneficial insects, etc.

    • why don't they instead find a way to get rid of the fscking mosquitoes ?

      You think that idea hasn't occurred to anyone [factsanddetails.com]? They haven't done it because it is REALLY hard, and really expensive and given the political instability in parts of Africa as well as the geography not really feasible. We did it in the US in part through the use of DDT which turned out to be a pretty bad idea in the long run.

    • by compro01 (777531)

      There's work being done on that actually. The idea is to only eliminate the specific species of mosquitoes that are disease vectors (e.g. Malaria is only transmitted by about 100 species in the genus Anopheles), which are a distinct minority of mosquito species, and the other species would be able to pick up the ecological slack.

      I believe the currently proposed method is to create and release large numbers of sterile males of the relevant species to cut down their reproduction rate.

  • by wynterwynd (265580) on Friday August 09, 2013 @08:56AM (#44518991)

    Now that malaria is on its way out, can Google float its Wi-Fi balloons without taking any more shit from you?

  • by starless (60879) on Friday August 09, 2013 @08:56AM (#44518993)

    My attempts at googling the answer to this have not been successful, so I ask here... (crazy, I know).
    Anyway, if there was a ~100% effective vaccine taken by almost everyone, would that eradicate malaria itself, or
    could the malaria parasite continue to exist?
    i.e. are humans a vital part of the life cycle of the malaria-causing parasites?

    Thanks!

    • Anyway, if there was a ~100% effective vaccine taken by almost everyone, would that eradicate malaria itself, or could the malaria parasite continue to exist?

      The latter since malaria does not require humans in particular as part of its life cycle.

  • by pauljlucas (529435) on Friday August 09, 2013 @09:51AM (#44519573) Homepage Journal
    If they're successful at eradicating malaria in the developing world, they're also going to have to do something about birth control since the population will explode due to malaria no longer killing people off. The developing world can't even handle the population it already has in terms of food, potable water, and sanitation.
    • So we shouldn't eradicate deadly diseases? WTF are you getting at? Maybe people in the developing world should just roll over and die because they have no reason to live?

      It's why it's called the DEVELOPING world. There is a big cost associated with these diseases too. The large number of children per family is part of that cost.

      This is the family of man. We are all in the same boat (the Earth). The sooner we recognize this and pull together the sooner Man will be able to move on towards fuller realization o

      • WTF are you getting at?

        Re-read my post. I said what I'm getting at: they have to do a better job of birth control, i.e., providing condoms and actually getting people to use them, the catholic church not withstanding.

    • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Friday August 09, 2013 @12:27PM (#44521751)

      Oddly, complex things like population control don't work in the simple straightforward way you think.

      Educating women is the most effective means of birth control, by far. Making people healthy means they can work more reliably, have more money, afford to go to school, and not miss school because they're sick.

    • Don't worry. Some cultures in Africa believe that the real cure to AIDS is to have sex with a virgin. I shit you not! The "solution" is the fucking problem. Literally!!!

    • Malaria kills less than 1 million people a year. The annual population growth of just sub-Saharan Africa is over 20 million. Malaria is a drop in the bucket of population growth. Not only is it inhumanly cruel to even suggest it as a form of population control, it is also really stupid because it is common knowledge that fertility rates are inversely related to child mortality, and that population growth is inversely related to QoL (dying children tend to get in the way of education, economic growth, etc).
  • by argStyopa (232550) on Friday August 09, 2013 @09:54AM (#44519619) Journal

    OK then let's step up to the "hard questions" then.

    Let's assume that tomorrow we invent a super vaccine that cures the worst diseases in the world; according to WHO, Malaria, Tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS kills 5.4 million people every year.
    Simultaneously, let's assume that we've somehow solved the world's food distribution problems.

    What then?

    I know it sounds callous to say so, but that's probably why this difficult question never gets seriously addressed: if the bulk of the people dying to disease and starvation didn't, isn't the result just ... MORE starvation, conflict, and misery?

    I don't have an answer.

    • We'll cross that bridge when we get to it. ...in America.
    • by compro01 (777531)

      Available evidence suggests that if you cut down childhood mortality, birth rates will follow it down.

      They don't have loads of children because it's amusing. They do to try to ensure that some of them will survive to adulthood to care for them in old age. When the childhood mortality rate is about 1-in-5, it doesn't take much of a run of bad luck to wipe out 1-3 children.

      • by 0111 1110 (518466)

        Are you claiming that people have children so that there will be someone to take care of them when they are older? So if we come up with self replicating robots who will take care of old people the species would die off?

        • by compro01 (777531)

          Are you claiming that people have children so that there will be someone to take care of them when they are older? So if we come up with self replicating robots who will take care of old people the species would die off?

          My statement was only intended to apply to the current context of discussion (poor families in developing nations), not humanity in general.

    • by mjr167 (2477430)

      You have to start somewhere. You can't just say "Fuck it, there is always going to be some big problem causing misery and suffering!" Help the people you know you can help today and worry about tomorrow tomorrow.

      Developing and agrarian societies have high birth rates because they have high mortality rates and children are an asset. Children can work. Children can help support you. You can sell... er marry... your children for personal gain.

      Once you take away the advantages of having a pile of children

    • Have you noticed that countries where disease and death rates are lowest are also the ones where birth rates are below replacement?

  • "Right on the heals of the Bill Gates BusinessWeek article discussing the importance of disease prevention and cure over technological deployment

    I disagree with the premise of the summary.

    .
    First of all, it was not a Bill Gates BusinessWeek article, it was an interview with Bill Gates in BusinessWeek. Second, Bill Gates takes a swipe at technology deployment being done by a Microsoft competitor, without giving any substantiation of why technology deployment is bad. The BusinessWeek interview of Bill Gates shows just how short-sighted and self-centered his "vision" really is. He is unable to comprehend the benefits of anything besides what he is

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