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Science blurb thread.
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Joined: 10 Jul 2006
Posts: 1552
Location: Virginia (Much barfiness)

PostPosted: Sun Jul 23, 2006 4:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Doubtful. Even if this were to turn out to be a great wide spectrum treatment there will almost certainly be forms of the disease or individuals the therapy won't work for. There are a good many pathways to cancer.

This would be less a "Vaccine" than immuno therapy. The idea behind it being that, assuming that the injected anti-bodies (due to impurities or such) didn't label healthy tissue for attack by your own cells or provoke some kind of inappropriate reaction, they would only tag the protiens on cell surfaces that cancer cells display and thus make them "visible" to your own immune system, which would then attack and kill them. This would not likely result in any lasting immunity on the part of the treated person, as they didn't produce any of the anti-bodies.

Again, it worked in mice. But as I pointed out before lots of things that work fine in mice either don't work in people or cause major unexpected consequences, hence the need for human trials in drugs and treatments.

This is just a gene variant, and it probably has a price tag just like most others do. For example, having an extremely aggressive immune system can make you more likely to die of some forms of influenza (where it's your immune response that manifests the symptoms you feel and not the virus). This is why the big flu pandemic after WWI seemed to target just the opposite demographic as most flu. It was mostly strong young adults it killed. You are also more likely to suffer from auto immune disorders in which your immune system misidentifies "friendly" tissue as the enemy and destroys it.

Other gene variants, like Taysacs, or Sickle Cell confer resistence to TB and Malaria, respectively and don't hurt you if you only have one recessive allele for them, but get both and you won't live long. This works because in populations exposed to those pathogens the protection helps and even if both parents have one recessive copy of the gene there's only a one in four chance any of their offspring will get both allelees and die.

A and B blood groups are another example. Both of them are believed to confer resistence to certain crowd diseases and are believed to have evolved before our species did because chimps share them with us (You can give blood to or recieve blood from a chimp with a compatible blood type). The frequency of either one in the population was based on the presence or lack thereof of the diseases the conferred resistence too. Kinda makes me glad I'm an AB type. Smile Small pox would be an example of one of the diseases they help confer some resistence to. It's worth noting that prior to wide spread intermarrying/matting with europeans American indians were almost exlusively O types. Not only had they no individual experience with the disease to provide exposure immunity prior to europeans arrival, but they had developed no physical adaptations to cope with it either making them especially vulnerable. Guns germs and steel by jared diamond treats this a bit, and many other books and articles as well.

What I find most interesting about immune system function these days is that they've recently verified the fact that immune cells communicate via synapses. Very much like our nervous system. As they are mobile they don't have dendrites and axons, but move within contact proximitiy to bring their synapse junctions into useful range.

Anyway, lots of spectacular failures these days, but lots of hope too.

It's quite humbling when you realize mankind has NEVER cured a viral illness. Not ever. Vaccines aren't a cure, they're a prophylactic. Even the bacteria after a breif stint on the ropes have shown us emphatically that we need to be more than a one trick horse in this battle. They've had practice at this game since the origins of life on earth, no easy peasy for us here.
"Life is tough, but it's tougher when you're stupid" ~ SGT John Stryker from "Sands of Iwo Jima".
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