Health News Review

This story outperformed the competing coverage by the Philadelphia Inquirer – which read a bit too much like home-cooking for a local research team and a local company.

Our Review Summary

In either case, we question the newsworthiness of a Phase I study in 18 women. At least the Philadelphia story had the local angle.  Are we going to start reporting on all Phase i lab results with samples sizes this small?


Why This Matters

We usually think of vaccines to prevent diseases, not treat them. That’s the premise behind existing cervical cancer vaccines, which prevent infection with HPV strains known to cause cancer. It’s interesting to hear that a vaccine that might treat established HPV infection is under study. But the reader needs to understand that there are many steps between a preliminary laboratory result and a clinically useful vaccine.


Criteria

Not Satisfactory

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

Not applicable; too early in development process to discuss costs.

Not Satisfactory

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

The story didn’t quantify the benefits of the vaccine in the first clinical trial.

Not Satisfactory

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The story states “The researchers did not observe any side effects.”  But the Philadelphia Inquirer reported: “Most side effects of the vaccine were minimal and deemed unrelated to the treatment, the paper reported.”

Satisfactory

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Satisfactory

The story pointed out the study for which the paper was based was not a randomized clinical trial and the small sample size made it hard to draw any definite conclusions.

Satisfactory

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

The story did not appear to commit disease mongering.

Satisfactory

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Satisfactory

The story did provide a quote from an independent researcher who was not involved with the current research (and does not appear to be affiliated with the vaccine manufacturer).

Satisfactory

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Satisfactory

There was some discussion of alternative approaches -  Gardasil and Cervarix.

Satisfactory

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Satisfactory

They did briefly discuss future clinical trials and did not try to estimate when a vaccine would be available.

Satisfactory

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

The story was clear that the novel part is development of a vaccine using DNA only.

Satisfactory

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?

Satisfactory

The story does not appear to rely on a press release.

Total Score: 7 of 10 Satisfactory


We Welcome Comments

But please note: We will delete comments that include personal attacks, unfounded allegations, unverified facts, product pitches, profanity or any from anyone who doesn't list what appears to be an actual email address. We will also end any thread of repetitive comments. We don't give medical advice so we won't respond to questions asking for it. Please see more on our comments policy.