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Medicine Biotech Science

Gates Foundation Funds "Altruistic Vaccine" 259

QuantumG writes "The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded a $100,000 grant to the University of Queensland, Australia to develop a vaccine against dengue fever, a disease spread by mosquitoes. Unlike other vaccines, the 'altruistic vaccine' doesn't specifically protect the individual being bitten, but instead protects the community by stopping the transmission of the pathogen from one susceptible individual to another. The hope is to do this by effectively making their blood poisonous to mosquitoes, either killing them or at least preventing them from feeding on other individuals. Professor Paul Young explained how his work fell outside current scientific traditions and might lead to significant advances in global health — he said he could envision the vaccine being used around the world within 10 years, and it would be designed to be cheap and easy to implement."
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Gates Foundation Funds "Altruistic Vaccine"

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  • by jasonmanley ( 921037 ) <> on Thursday May 14, 2009 @03:53AM (#27948427) Homepage Journal
    I don't want to sound ungrateful or anything but is $100K really all that much considering how expensive it must be to do this kind of research?
  • by IAR80 ( 598046 ) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @04:06AM (#27948499) Homepage
    "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a Communist." Hélder CÃmara
  • Will this help? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Z00L00K ( 682162 ) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @04:09AM (#27948519) Homepage

    Because if it won't help against infection it's little consolation that you won't spread the fever.

    Of course - it's better than nothing, but even better would be to figure a way to take out diseases like Dengue Fever completely.

    Many diseases are spread by mosquitoes and if you can take out them from the equation it may help against several diseases. Pheromones are one important factor when the mosquitoes are mating and if you can attract the males to a trap you can either kill them or replace them with genetically modified ones that are less able to spread diseases. The modification may range from sterile offspring to offspring that aren't able to work as a carrier or even offspring that are shunning humans as blood source.

  • Re:Useless (Score:4, Insightful)

    by flonker ( 526111 ) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @04:22AM (#27948579)

    If every human with dengue fever is so treated, the mosquitoes will not have a chance to spread the fever any further if they do bite you. I don't understand the disease, and the article itself was light on detail, but if the disease spreads from ...mosquito->human->mosquito->human..., you would be removing the human->mosquito leg of the cycle.

  • by eugene2k ( 1213062 ) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @04:25AM (#27948595) Homepage
    On a more serious note, though. Some time from now, if this vaccine is developed and becomes widespread, the mosquitos will adapt to the poison in it (this is what evolution is all about), and we'll have mosquitos that are resistant to the poison.

    Of course it is also possible that evolution will take another path and mosquitos stop feeding on humans and switch to animals, but not any more possible than the prospect of mosquitos becoming vegetarians.
  • by Elvis77 ( 633162 ) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @04:26AM (#27948607)
    It's not much money really but the media attention that it's going to bring (not too mention the slashdot effect) will bring in a heap of money. "If Bill's funding it it must be good" (Like Vista????)
  • Re:Will this help? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by unlametheweak ( 1102159 ) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @04:40AM (#27948663)

    Mosquitoes certainly have their role in the ecosystem and killing them will certainly have unforeseen consequences. More like in the Mao and sparrows story [] []

    Humans are part of the ecosystem, and not allowing natural checks and balances to occur on the human population also has devastating effects on the environment. I'm not advocating culling humans however.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 14, 2009 @04:42AM (#27948667)

    Bill Gates != Microsoft

  • Re:Repercussions? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by meuhlavache ( 1101089 ) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @05:22AM (#27948835) Homepage
    I'm agree... Kill insects, without any knowledge of what it's involve, to protect us agains't a disease is really dangerous... 'hope they'll think twice about that.
  • by Yvanhoe ( 564877 ) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @05:32AM (#27948869) Journal
    $100K intelligently spent can produce a lot more results than $100M distributed by a public committee.
  • by oneirophrenos ( 1500619 ) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @05:41AM (#27948899)

    On a more serious note, though. Some time from now, if this vaccine is developed and becomes widespread, the mosquitos will adapt to the poison in it (this is what evolution is all about), and we'll have mosquitos that are resistant to the poison.

    This is probably true, as it is with antibiotics and bacteria. But just like we can't stop prescribing antibiotics for certain infections, we can't just not explore the possibilities of this vaccine.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 14, 2009 @07:24AM (#27949357)

    I don't think the people suffering from dengue fever are going to care where the money comes frome, and unless Gates somehow stole some of your money, neither should you.

  • by Attila Dimedici ( 1036002 ) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @10:56AM (#27951155)
    You do know that Ben Franklin was a self made man. He did not inherit any wealth. He left Boston and went to Philadelphia, where he built his wealth through hard work (not by exploiting connections, except for those he made on his own). So Ben Franklin didn't "live in his own world".
    A reason that the Founding Fathers get so much credit is because there was another group around the same time with similar ideas who launched a revolution and set up a government based on those ideas as well. That group didn't work out so well (it was the group behind the French Revolution). So, the Founding Fathers of the USA obviously had some insight or something that the leaders of the French Revolution didn't.
  • by Alex Belits ( 437 ) * on Thursday May 14, 2009 @05:08PM (#27957099) Homepage

    Please, go on. Tell me precisely how market dominance in a desktop computer operating system has kept the desperately poor of Africa from becoming "not poor". Perhaps it has to do with increased electrification of the African countryside? Brought computers and wireless connections to those people?

    Basically, Windows design is so poisonous, it rots brains of people who are trying to advance science and technology whenever they try to build anything that has to work under Windows and therefore they have to internalize this insane design. With progress in technology being slowed down and misdirected, the whole world does not get benefits of better technology, medicine, infrastructure development, art, etc. that would be developed if Windows did not exist.

  • by Alex Belits ( 437 ) * on Thursday May 14, 2009 @05:51PM (#27957929) Homepage

    Your last post hasn't answered the question: how did Windows domination has caused these people (we are talking 3rd world people) to be poor?

    It did not make them poor, it prevented them from ceasing to be poor. The same way how Catholic Church kept European peasants poor over Middle Ages -- by shitting up and suffocating all scientific development.

  • by Alex Belits ( 437 ) * on Friday May 15, 2009 @05:47AM (#27963495) Homepage

    So, 2 decades of non-windows usage would have had reversed centuries-old poverty?

    Of course. In the rest of the world it already happened at various points in history, so there is no reason to expect that it wouldn't be the same in Africa. We see it as "centuries-old poverty" only in comparison with our own societies' conditions, however not long ago our societies were at the same level, just without a point of comparison to make them look this bad.

    Explain me the economics of it, IN DETAIL, not with slogans passed as hypothetical.

    The whole study of economy is basically a set of slogans, so I would rather omit it altogether and focus on things that are comparable and measurable. Each and every country that is now seen as "developed", at some point went through the same process, however as I mentioned before, most did it early enough to have no reference point to emphasize the poor living conditions before this change. Europe and US did it at the time of Industrial Revolution, however the same process continued later, and its speed corresponded with development of technology. Technology development in 80's-90's was mostly concentrated around entertainment and comfort, so it was of little use for such a process. I see Microsoft as one of the primary reasons why development of technology was shifted toward tinkering and mental masturbation.

Nondeterminism means never having to say you are wrong.