TWiV 276 letters

Jim writes:

Hi all,

There is a Ted Talk by Mark Kendall at :
http://www.ted.com/talks/mark_kendall_demo_a_needle_free_vaccine_patch_that_s_safer_and_way_cheaper.html

It talks about an advance in using nano technology to administer vaccines. With this method there are several advantages:
a. Breaks the cold train. Vaccine can be stored out of refrigerator for long periods
b. Reduces the dose to achieve a significant immune response
c. Gives an earlier response to the vaccine by putting the vaccine in the immune active part of the skin.
d. Eliminates the pain of using a needle.

I found this very interesting.
Thanks a ton for all of the great podcasts.

Matthew writes:

Hello Drs.,

Thank you for the wonderful podcast, and I hope all is well. I am a graduate student at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, where the weather is currently 25F/-4C. I was listening to TWiV 267 (Snow in the Headlights) the other day, and there was mention of Clara cells regarding a potential source of an HA-cleaving protease. I wanted to pass along some history of the term Clara, named after a German scientist with strong Nazi associations. The tissue he used to identify these cells was from Nazi political prisoners, which has prompted some concern about the continued use of the term Clara cell. Here was the original 2010 article that brought about the discussion:

http://erj.ersjournals.com/content/36/4/722.full

It would be inappropriate and impossible to “un-know” our knowledge about these cells. Important discoveries associated with these cells have advanced research and improved human health. The general consensus with Nazi-associated eponyms has been to replace them with more descriptive terms. That way the knowledge is preserved without giving credit to those who obtained it unethically. Similar changes have been implemented for granulomatosis with polyangitis (formerly Wegener’s Granulomatosis) and reactive arthritis (formerly Reiter’s Syndrome). The American Thoracic Society and many other international pulmonary societies have endorsed the change from “Clara cell” to “club cell”:

http://news.thoracic.org/april-2013/ats-joins-other-societies-in-renaming.php

Ethics have evolved over time and it’s hard to always criticize past science through our current lens. For instance, the early vaccinology experiments of Edward Jenner and Benjamin Jesty would likely not get IRB approval today, though we hold them generally in high regard. That said, the transgressions regarding Max Clara are extreme even for early 20th century science, and it would seem best to use the term club cell to describe these cells instead.

I look forward to your thoughts!

Best,
Matt

Lance writes:

I don’t think anyone has picked the book by Nate Silver “The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail, but Some Don’t”

The author does a fantastic job explaining the science behind prediction, big data, and why our predictions/models aren’t very good sometimes.

Specifically of interest is chapter 7 which discusses disease (mostly flu) modeling by groups at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Chicago.

Keep on doing great work,

-Lance