Health News Review

Local research team, local company, Phase I study in 18 women.  Would this have been covered if it didn’t have local angle? Should that be the basis for news judgment?  CNN’s story was somewhat better.

Our Review Summary

From the scientific standpoint of vaccine development, this may be an interesting finding. From the clinical standpoint, it is too premature to be useful. From an editorial judgment standpoint, it also seems premature.


Why This Matters

Cervical cancer is a disease that affects millions of women and current vaccines are only effective if given to women before they become infected with HPV.  Developing a vaccine that can also serve as a treatment for already infected women may prove beneficial.


Criteria

Not Applicable

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Applicable

Not applicable.  It would be impossible to estimate costs at such a preliminary phase of the research.

Not Satisfactory

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

Not Satisfactory

Only vague suggestions that the body was able to produce T-cells.  Would be helpful to know about how frequently a T cell response measured in a test tube translates into a clinically significant effect on preventing disease.

Not Satisfactory

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

Not Satisfactory

The story only stated “Most side effects of the vaccine were minimal and deemed unrelated to the treatment, the paper reported.”  But what were they?  And how often did they occur? Let readers judge what minimal might be.

Satisfactory

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

Satisfactory

You could argue that the findings were too preliminary to publicize at all. But given that they did, there are pretty good qualifiers of the preliminary nature of the findings up front and at the end.These results were of a Phase I clinical trial with only 18 women, and the positive results were demonstrated in test tubes – not the human body. We’ll give it the benefit of the doubt.

Satisfactory

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

The story did not appear to demonstrate disease mongering.

Not Satisfactory

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

Not Satisfactory

Most of the people cited in the article worked for the vaccine manufacturer currently or in the past.

Not Satisfactory

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

No mention of alternative treatment of current cervical lesions.

Satisfactory

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

Satisfactory

This was a Phase I clinical trial so the results of this study may not produce a viable vaccine in the future. The story makes clear that a vaccine is years away from being available.

Satisfactory

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

The story makes clear that a vaccine using DNA only is novel, at least in humans.

Satisfactory

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

Satisfactory

Not clear that the story relied on a press release, but it sure isn’t balanced by context from those not involved with the research.

Total Score: 5 of 9 Satisfactory


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