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.
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?
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.
Not applicable; too early in development process to discuss costs.
The story didn’t quantify the benefits of the vaccine in the first clinical trial.
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.”
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.
The story did not appear to commit disease mongering.
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).
There was some discussion of alternative approaches - Gardasil and Cervarix.
They did briefly discuss future clinical trials and did not try to estimate when a vaccine would be available.
The story was clear that the novel part is development of a vaccine using DNA only.
The story does not appear to rely on a press release.