Friday, April 20, 2007

Can Caterpillars Cure the Flu?

tidbits that tantalize
Who Knew You were SO Smart?

Kivalina, Alaska - Late September

Ah, what a fabulous day! A fresh snowfall overnight, temperatures warming nicely to the mid-30s and a clearing sky. It's the perfect day to travel. Which makes it all the more odd you're the only one who seems to be excited about the trip.

What gives?

Sure, Miami is a ways away. But, it's worth it. You figure - especially after the battle your family had with the flu last year - there's really no other choice. Heck, the way you see it, if the Fall Armyworm likes Miami in the winter, then so do you. After all, they hold the key to staying healthy this winter and, just like mom always said, "sometimes being healthy takes a little sacrifice."

What's the big deal, anyway? A quick 10-hour charter to Fairbanks and, shoot - you'll already be less than a 5,000-mile drive to Miami. It's a piece of cake...

Is it worth the drive?

A new method of developing flu vaccine using a caterpillar, the aforementioned Fall Armyworm, appears to hold great promise. Not only is the process quicker, it may also be safer than the current method that relies upon egg-based vaccines.

Dr. John Treanor, of the University of Rochester, led a study to evaluate the efficacy of the vaccine FluBl0k, produced by Protein Sciences Corporation. The participants were randomly assigned to three groups. One group received a small dose of the vaccine, a second group received a larger dose and a third group received a placebo.

The two groups receiving the vaccine showed a combined effectiveness in preventing influenza of 86%. This is a rate that's on a par with currently available vaccines. The group receiving the larger dose, which experienced no cases of the flu, said they were, "delighted with the results." The patients in the placebo group were all in the bathroom and could not be reached for comment.

...Really, what's the big deal? So the plane's engine threw a rod, and the 10-hour charter to Fairbanks turned into a 6-week dogsled journey? The bottom line is, if Miami is good enough for the caterpillars...

To read more about the study, see this from Reuters. To read more about the development of FluBl0k, see this from Protein Sciences Corporation.

Image courtesy of Pogrebnoj-Alexandroff at Wikipedia:


Post a Comment

<< Home