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Medicine Science

Researchers Investigating Self-Boosting Vaccines 218

An anonymous reader writes "Vaccines, contrary to opinions from the anti-science crowd, are some of the most effective tools in modern medicine. For some diseases, a single shot is all it takes for lifetime immunity. Others, though, require booster shots, to remind your immune system exactly what it should prepare to fight. Failure to get these shots threatens an individual's health, and the herd immunity concept as well. Scientists are now looking into 'self-boosting' vaccines in order to fix that problem. Some viruses are capable of remaining in the body for a person's entire lifetime. If researchers can figure out a way to safely harness these, it may be possible to add genes that would create proteins to train the immune system against not just one, but multiple other viruses (abstract). This is a difficult problem to solve; changing the way we do vaccinations will itself have consequences for herd immunity. It also hinges on finding a virus that can survive the immune system without having uncomfortable flare-ups from time to time."
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Researchers Investigating Self-Boosting Vaccines

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  • by bmo ( 77928 ) on Sunday November 25, 2012 @04:41AM (#42085723)

    Anti-vaxxers are anti-science and kill kids.

    People like former Dr. Wakefield and Jenny McCarthy have blood on their hands.


  • by dark_requiem ( 806308 ) on Sunday November 25, 2012 @04:46AM (#42085733)
    I find it interesting that this was modded flamebait. It's a valid point. Whatever your opinion on the subject, rhetorical hyperbole serves only to inflame those who already disagree to disagree more. If you disagree with the anti-vax crowd, offer reasoned counterpoints to their arguments. If you just write them off as a bunch of idiotic kooks, that will just entrench them in their position further. And who knows, do YOU have any research to support the idea that there is no benefit to, say, a more gradual vaccination schedule for infants? Has the issue been researched to a significant degree? I don't know of any studies on that specific subject (and note the difference between "I don't know" and "there are none"), so I couldn't counter the suggestion that it might be beneficial. If you disagree, back it up with the science, or you're no better than the "anti-science" crowd you claim to oppose. Blindly accepting "prevailing wisdom" without the knowledge to support it is every bit as "anti-science" as blindly accepting niche wisdom without the knowledge to support it. You look at the evidence available to you and form a conclusion, you don't just say "most scientists support idea A, so anyone who supports idea B is a fool." That helps no one and makes you look a fool.

    And, for what it's worth, I was torn between posting a response to the fact this was modded flamebait, or modding it up. I chose the former.
  • by bmo ( 77928 ) on Sunday November 25, 2012 @04:56AM (#42085757)

    You, and others, don't get it.

    The doubt is unfounded. There is *no* science to back up the claim that thimerosol or vaccines cause autism.

    When the Netherlands, and I believe Denmark banned Thimerosol, the supposed trigger of autism caused by vaccinations, did the incidence of autism fall?


    The claim that thimerosol and vaccines cause autism has been proven wrong empirically because of this, and the people who continue to push this dangerous meme kill kids.


  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 25, 2012 @05:03AM (#42085761)

    I'm pro-vaccine, but engineering a virus to live in your system for an extended period of time (up to the life of the carrier) is scary in a number of ways.

    Others have mentioned the possibility of a mutation taking the previously harmless virus into harmful territory, which is bad enough, but remember this virus has been engineered to survive in your hostile immune system, so if it does mutate, good luck in getting rid of it afterward.

    Less obviously, if it survives in your body indefinitely and activates your immune system, it's not clear what the long-term effects of that would be. How much energy would your body expend pumping out antibodies? Would that distract it from fighting other diseases? Can your immune system become fatigued? Studies show people with poor dental hygine are more succeptible to heart disease, and the reason given for this is that the immune system is busy fighting the bacteria in your mouth which makes it less able to take care of the internal stuff.

    Regular vaccines are in your body for a couple days, tops, and generally only given while you are already in good health. Even in the unlikely event that the vaccine temporarily weakened your immune system enough that you catch another disease, the trade-off is good because the vaccine is generally preventing something much worse.

    One of these vaccines would put constant stress on your immune system. Is that ok? It's really hard to say.

  • by sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Sunday November 25, 2012 @05:06AM (#42085771) Journal

    I completely get it. There are people who simply do not believe a specific claim of science. They were convinced of the counter claims the same way 90% of the people are convinced of the scientific claims, someone told them who appeared to be authoritative in the matter. Very few people have the resources or skills to replicate the vast majority of scientific discoveries so until they see it in use or have it explained to them by some authority in the matter, they have to trust someone. That does not make them anti-science, it makes them skeptical about a claim. They could very well believe and understand all the other science claims out there.

    Like I said, stop playing Bush, it's not a with us or against us situation.

  • by bmo ( 77928 ) on Sunday November 25, 2012 @05:10AM (#42085777)

    >That does not make them anti-science, it makes them skeptical about a claim.

    When you take Jenny McCarthy's claim over a doctor's claim, you are anti-science.

    There is being skeptical, and then there is just plain nuts.

    Jenny McCarthy kills kids.


  • by IBitOBear ( 410965 ) on Sunday November 25, 2012 @05:33AM (#42085843) Homepage Journal

    Think it through. (I am absolutely pro-vaccine BTW.) The Varicella Zoster lives in your body. You _must_ get chicken pox in order to later get shingles. you don't just "catch shingles". This means that a virus (like zoster) can hang out in your body while your body "forgets" its immune response.

    So this theoretical self-recurring "vaccination" could easily have unintended consequences that wouldn't be knownt until the second or Nth recurrance.

    And every viral recuuance destroys or damages tissue. The sucky thing about shingles is not that it happens, but that the nerve it errupts out of can become perminantly inflamed.

    So the model virus for the idea is kind of a strong example of why the idea might just suck donkey balls. The only way to really test such a long-lasting recurrent phenomonia for a whole lifetime. Think of how long the average hip replacement or surgical mesh was in a body before they started to go bad and people discovered the unintended consequences. And those are just innert physical objects.

    We should be _very_ suspicious of anything "active" that we intend to engineer and put into our bodies as effective viral symbiotes. We haven't even gotten "piece of steel", let along "heart valve", right yet. Self replicating virus is a little ambitious just now.

  • by bmo ( 77928 ) on Sunday November 25, 2012 @05:37AM (#42085855)

    >It seems you missed the overall point here, which was "Cite your source, or shut up". We likely share a similar opinion on this particular subject. However, if you can't cite a valid source, if you can't point out solid, peer-reviewed research, then you're essentially acting on faith, just like the creationists, just like the anti-vax crowd.

    You missed the point in that the anti-vaccine crowd has *no* peer reviewed study that says vaccines cause autism, and the one that was, was retracted, and Andrew Wakefield lost his license due to fraud.

    > I realize, probably better than most, how frustrating it is to have the same argument time and time again, with so little success swaying the opinions of others, but if you just say "screw it, they're all morons", then you're just helping history to repeat itself.

    No, they need to be riduculed and made embarrassed, because of the hundreds of thousands of studies on how and why vaccines work, they can't be arsed to read a single one of them. They are kooks, and the way you deal with kooks is to riducule and ostracize them until they come around.

    > you're no better than the anti-science fundamentalists.

    Might I direct you to the nearest university library and fuck off.


  • by bmo ( 77928 ) on Sunday November 25, 2012 @05:45AM (#42085875)

    People who deliberately spread misinformation so that kids die of whooping cough, measels, and other preventable diseases do kill kids as surely as holding a gun and pulling the trigger.

    Because they do it not out of concern for children, but because of money, and backing away from fraud exposes the fraud. So they continue.

    If you feel that this is out of line, feel free to foe me.


  • Really? your argument is OMG YOU KILL KIDS by not swallowing everybit of information from the government as fact? and you get MOD POINTS?! this is slashdot, please stop that. Here we say 'there has been no known study proving a direct link between thimerosol and autism"
  • by sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Sunday November 25, 2012 @06:32AM (#42085967) Journal

    lol.. the Jesus anti-science crowd. That's cute. are you bigoted all by yourself or is there some course we can attend to be just like you?

    I don't personally care if people are killing children or not. Claiming they are anti-science because they do not trust or believe a claim is ignorant. Vaccines or the beginning of the universe is not all that science is. The wording "anti-science" is nothing but a fallacy so people can perpetuate incorrect stereotypes..

  • by angel'o'sphere ( 80593 ) on Sunday November 25, 2012 @11:12PM (#42090735) Journal

    Care to give some examples for Sallies, Henries and their brothers?

    And as a site note, if 1 of 1,000,000 dies due to an illness comming from vaccination, that is far better than if 300,000 from 1,000,000 die because no one is vaccined.

Thus spake the master programmer: "Time for you to leave." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"