Monday, February 04, 2008

Curing the common cold - I say don't do it!

Scientific press releases are often a bit dodgy. Take today's news that sniffling mice may herald the end of the common cold.

Firstly, as is the nature of these things, we get the sensation of break throughs around the corner when, as it stands, we're talking about the first step on the ladder.

Boffins (I love that word) have genetically modified mice to catch colds and they hope they will be "a valuable test-bed for potential new medications." In other words the news is they can begin research - not that they have nearly discovered a cure. I'm not downplaying this - it's an impressive scientific feat to identify a particular gene and then alter it in a mouse, I've tried and failed a hundred times or more - but the headlines imply a cure where there is none.

Secondly Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, chief executive of the Medical Research Council which funded the study, has the best name ever. Bar none. Oh, sorry, that's not actually a point is it? The fact still stands, it's a great name.

Thirdly, has anyone asked the question do we want to cure the common cold? I'm not sure we do. Have we learned nothing from MRSA and our increasingly ineffectual antibiotics? Surely all a "cure" will do is to give us humans temporary alleviation of one of our milder ailments whilst also providing a trial by fire for cold germs eventually creating medication resistant colds. Great. A generation of people who's first proper encounter with a cold is the one that kills them.

Personally I think we already know the best way to deal with colds, and that is to live a healthy lifestyle maintaining a good immune system. Nah, sod it, let's just develop a pill, colds are inconvenient and we could be back on the production line a day or two earlier.

It's like the story that prisoners are to be provided diet supplement pills in order to try to quell their aggressive urges. Note: slop plus pills equals a proper governmental policy, decent food and treating people like human beings does not. Behave yourself - eat your cod liver oil. What are we, Victorians?

1 comment:

Leftwing Criminologist said...

I really, really hate colds - but they beat anything mcuh worse.

I heard about the supplement pills trial - it seems to be quite a large scale experiment. I completely agree with what you've said about the issue