Big news, little coverage

In the news parade of palaver modest banners for big stories are oft ignored –no matter how significant what they report. Like news  last week that a biotech company that started in the University of Newcastle is bought by big (one of the biggest) pharma Merck for $502m. Viralytics is trialling a compound from a common cold virus that kills cancer cells. ABC News Radio gave the science story a run and the IP trade press was interested in the money but this huge achievement merited a media march of its own, which it did not get – if there is a story that makes the case for investing in Australian medical research this is it.

And then there is news from the Doherty Institute of a difference between people who live and die from A/H7N9 avian flu. Katherine Kedzierska, Zhongfang Wang and colleagues found that people hospitalised with flu who have a specific immune cell temporarily activated appear more likely to live than patients where the same cell persists. The next step is to work out why but the Doherty suggests; “this work points to the possibility of limiting severe disease from pandemic flu.”

Perhaps it is because CMM had the stuffing scared out by Stephen Soderbergh’s public health documentary masquerading as a movie, Contagion (2011), that he thinks this is another big story. It is certainly another great example of research at work but again, no parade. Go figure.


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