Sunday, 1 May 2011

BAD SCIENCE (REPORTING)

New heart attack jab even more effective than statins - Telegraph
Read this story and you might think that this is a report of a new treatment for patients with coronary artery disease that was compared in a randomised controlled trial with statins and that most of the work was done in Leicester, UK.
In actual fact this story is based on this paper published very recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). This was a study using knock out mice and used various models of ischaemia reperfusion to demonstrate that inhibition of mannan-binding lectin-associated serine protease-2 (Masp2) is protective after an ischaemic insult. The authors come from all over the world and many have shares in the Seattle based start up that is trying to commercially produce the monoclonal antibody that inhibits this enzyme. In the most optimistic best case scenario, a treatment that benefits humans will not be available for 5 to 10 years and will probably be unavailable to most NHS patients . Treatments that have reduced the size of myocardial infarcts in mice are plentiful but most have come and gone (mice are just not human being one very important reason). I really hope that this works but the odds suggest this treatment will go the same way and disappear forever into the sunset. Professor Wilhelm Schwaeble certainly seems to have done a fine job selling the story. This however is no excuse for this good example of shoddy journalism.
POST SCRIPT. Accuracy and relevance of Science Journalism is becoming an increasingly important issue - not just because of the good work done by Ben Goldacre but also because of the advent of patient involvement in their own healthcare.