The shot heard ‘round the world

Ever take something for granted, like the price of Beanie Babies? Most developed countries have successful vaccination programs for their citizens and many of the diseases our parents grow up fighting have been put to bed. So it’s interesting when a survey of 1,000 US adults “reveals a shift over the last decade in Americans’ attitudes about vaccines developed where 77% are confident in the current system in the US for evaluating the safety of vaccines and recommendations for when they should be given, an 8% decrease from 2008.” A decrease? The devil might be in the details as vaccines can cover the flu, or the MMR (FYI, Japan banned the combined MMR shot in 1993), or pneumococcal pneumonia, or HPV cancer prevention. Maybe vaccinations aren’t as cool as they used to be, but we do know that  Schoolhouse Rock is always cool.

Researcher apparently skipped ethics classes

William Halford, a researcher affiliated with Southern Illinois University and formerly with Rational Vaccines, is under investigation for unauthorized injections of an experimental herpes vaccine into human subjects. A few things to know. (1) He’s dead now (which I guess makes him formerly affiliated with lots of things). (2) The FDA’s criminal investigation is looking for accomplices who may have assisted in Halford’s “research” efforts. And (3), Halford personally administered injections into subjects in a room at the Holiday Inn Express. The University denies any knowledge of the research. No way? He didn’t go through the proper channels? Rational Vaccines has also denied any knowledge and has since taken down their website (not a good look) while their work continues. Pro tip: Don’t fall for the ol’ injection-in-a-hotel-room trick. It’s almost never legit.

A cancer vaccine?

There’s always healthy skepticism whenever something is called a ‘cure for cancer.’ Most healthcare professionals (hopefully, a percentage in the high nineties) are aware that cancer is a catch-all for a host of diseases that involve abnormal cell growth. But a cure for cancer seems a bit more realistic when immunotherapy is in the picture. Stanford researchers recently published study results detailing an unexpectedly highly effective method of body-wide tumor reduction in mice. The mice’s tumors were injected with two immune-stimulating agents, which led to the elimination of all metastases in the rodents, including in untreated areas. Senior author Ronald Levy’s work has previously led to the development of rituximab, one of the first biologics, so you know the research is legit.

Check out more of the really cool stuff happening in the oncology space in InsightCity’s HealthyDose of Oncology Trials.