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Natural Treatment for RSV Infection?


2 Star

Natural Treatment for RSV Infection?

Our Review Summary

Lifting from a news release, the story quotes a researcher saying, "Our findings demonstrate that POPG is a potent antiviral agent both as a prophylactic and after infection has occurred."  But no data are provided.  And it takes six paragraphs to explain that this research was not in people but in the lab.


Why This Matters

As the story states, "RSV is the major cause of hospitalization in young children under age 2 and is an increasingly problematic infection in adults with chronic lung disease, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems." But the story just didn’t deliver key information for those who follow this troublesome infection. 


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Applicable

Costs weren’t discussed and we can understand why with something that is only in the pre-human testing phase.

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

Not Satisfactory

The story simply stated, "the study showed treating infected mice with POPG dramatically reduced infection and prevented the spread of the inflammatory cells into the lungs."  What does dramatically mean?  Totally?  Partially?  Was this in all mice?  Half the mice?  You can easily start to see how the story doesn’t ask or answer tough questions about the evidence.

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

Not Applicable

You can’t quantify the harms of something that hasn’t advanced beyond the lab and has not yet been done in humans.  Of course, you can’t say much at all at this stage, which raises the question of why the story was published now in a consumer health section that is labeled, "Health & Parenting." 

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

Not Satisfactory

Waiting until the sixth paragraph to mention that this research was done in the lab is not best practice.  And even then we don’t get a sense of the success rate even in the lab. 

Does the story commit disease-mongering?


The story gives appropriate background about respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection.

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

Not Satisfactory

No independent source is interviewed in the story.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

The story only states that "There is no vaccine or easy, effective treatment for RSV."  Why not at least briefly mention what those treatments are and discuss their track record? And this is where we need an independent expert to help put the new research into the context of existing approaches.

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

Not Satisfactory

Not until the sixth paragraph does the story explain that this work was done in the lab – not in people.  But later, the story says that the substance in question "is already used in other treatments and has been safely given to millions of premature infants to protect their lungs." So is that a substance that doctors would use (have used?) off-label?  This is not at all clear.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?


The story states, "Researchers say that until now, the function of POPG has been unclear."

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

Not Satisfactory

The only quote is attributed to a news release.  Why didn’t WebMD call the researcher for an interview? 

Total Score: 2 of 8 Satisfactory


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