Flu protection powered by llamas

Flu season is upon us, have you gotten your shot yet? You may be apprehensive because it doesn’t always work—for instance, last year’s flu vaccine was only 40 percent effective. If flu strains weren’t so diverse it wouldn’t be such an issue, which is why “mega-antibody” vaccines capable of protecting against multiple strains would be cool. Last week, researchers published a study detailing the process they used to develop one of these vaccines, which combined the fun-sized antibodies that llamas produce to make a vaccine capable of protecting mice against 59 of 60 flu strains they tested against. However, human antibodies are bigger, so they might not fit together nicely like llamas’ do. But even a vaccine that could protect against just a few strains could drastically affect infection rates. Here’s a likely delivery mechanism.

Malaria superhero tries to avoid collateral damage

Malaria has a new foe, but it might need some more prep time to start working towards humanity’s (or at least the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s) ultimate goal of malaria eradication. The new drug, Tafenoquine, is approved and ready to start fighting infections, but it has the unfortunate side effect of making red blood cells burst in some patients. Cells dying, you might have guessed, doesn’t lead to great patient outcomes. There is a test that can identify vulnerable patients, but it requires expensive and difficult to use machinery which may not be present in outbreak regions. Never fear though, researchers are already working on creating a more economically and technically feasible testing method that they’re confident will be ready when endemic countries roll out the drug.

So long sepsis?

Sepsis is the leading cause of death in American hospitals, claiming over 700 patients per day. So wouldn’t it be nice if there were something care providers could do about it? Two large-scale studies are trying to figure that out with a cure that’s so (relatively) simple and cheap, some are calling it snake oil. Dr. Paul Marik began treating his sepsis patients with a cocktail of Vitamin B1, Vitamin C, and corticosteroids, and observed remarkable sepsis reversals in many of the patients he treated with the mix. The implications of this proposed treatment are more dramatic than the most dramatic panda ever. So the two studies are trying to get funds and patients recruited ASAP to see if the science really stands up to scrutiny.

Kratom crap-shoot

Kratom’s back in the news and—big surprise—not in a positive light. While there’s no research to support what people claim it does, proponents of the plant say it can help with opioid addiction, relieve pain and increase energy. But this isn’t actually an article to debunk another junk medicine, because that’s not the reason the FDA’s mad about it (this time.) The agency has used their mandatory recall power for the first time to warn consumers about kratom products made by Triangle Pharmanaturals, which are apparently rife with salmonella. Multiple cases of infection have been traced back to consuming kratom in the past couple years, and apparently the FDA’s finally had enough. Figures that a company hawking a dubious product can’t even make it properly.