Small is Beautiful

axel-new-onlineMore on Mice & Men
Traditional vaccines take a long time to produce in large amounts no matter if they are ‘tamed’ live-vaccines or
dead-microbe vaccines. This is a particular problem when epidemics emerge suddenly.

A team at the MIT and Harvard created nanoparticles that contained a ‘payload’ of DNA that could encode certain proteins/biological substances. It would have a start signal, the code for the protein, then a stop signal and it would have a repeat signal. Once it is inside a cell it would trigger the cell to produce that particular substance. This substance could be a specific antibody against the flu-virus for example.

Experiments in mice (and not yet men) with single doses of a vaccine provided a robust and durable protection against the infection. Researchers have found no immune response against the nanoparticles themselves and at this stage no adverse effects at all were noted (ProcNatlAcadSciUSA 2016 Jul 19;113:E4133).

Amazing! This technology would allow to create a vaccine against a specific virus or bacteria in nothing more but a week – conventional vaccines take six months.

It would avoid risks associated with live vaccines such as measles, which can reverse within the vaccinated body to the dangerous variety.  And it gives protection after a single dose. And it would allow for immunization against multiple viruses in one single injection. That would indeed be a big step to fight epidemics and at this stage it sounds too good to be true.

Immunizations were a big achievement of medicine, but we know that they do not last forever, they never protect 100 % of the vaccinated population and they are difficult to produce. So this new technique would be very welcome if it holds on the long run what it promises on the short.

Back to Men:
Some Doctors say: there are no healthy men but only men who do not know yet about their illness. Others would think we talk of hypochondriacs.

It now emerges that german the NHS seems to have encouraged their doctors to over-dramatize the diagnoses of the patients in the patients file, because certain government-funds for the very ill could be used to finance the NHS…

Doctors have known for a long time that modern medicine tends to over-diagnose certain illnesses just by the fact that modern imaging techniques can pick up things which would never have been a problem in a lifetime. This, on the patient’s side, may (and does) create anxiety, a feeling of being seriously ill and causes a long cascade of, as it turns out later, unnecessary investigations and check-ups. For a Medic it is difficult to avoid and needs to be accepted as a downfall of modern medicine.

But it is a different thing to ‘create’ severely ill patients for mercantile reasons.

The times they are a-changing in many different ways – congrats to Bob the Nobel.

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