Tag Archives: malaria

Eat Pond Scum!

“Marketing, get in here,” Rupert shouted into the phone.

A minute later, Malisma Collins strode into his office with her eyes flashing.  “You can learn my name,” she said.  “I’ve been here for seven years.  You don’t need to learn a new name like your R&D revoloving door.”

Rupert looked down at his flash cards.  “Malisma.  I do know your name.  So there.”  He glanced at his computer screen and said, “Could you please explain the name for this new malaria vaccine we just licensed form UCSD?  Who decided to name it EDS?”

Malisma studied her fingernails closely.  “It was named by the post-doctoral student in charge.  I understand it stands for ‘Eat Death Scum,’ so we needed a different name.”

“Eat death scum?” Rupert asked.  “Where would anyone get a name like that, Malaria?”

“Malisma.  My name is Malisma.  Learn it.”  She inhaled deeply.  “Remember, we are asking people to eat this algae.  Pond scum, really.  It’s been engineered to deliver proteins from malaria and cholera.”

Rupert choked.  “Cholera?  Are you planning to have patients eat death – oh, I see.”

“Yes.  We can’t vaccinate everyone in the poorest parts of the world, places where malaria is rampant.  We can’t even be sure they will take pills.  But we can send food that will help raise antibodies against the worst diseases.”

“Excellent!”  Rupert leaned back in his chair.  “We can finally cure the world of its problems.  Us, tiny Cappuccino Pharmaceuticals.”  He sat up.  “So does this, um, this Eat Death Scum, this pond scum.  Does it work?”

Malisma looked carefully at her toenails with their tiny encrusted diamonds.  “Well, not yet.  Corrina, the R&D person in charge, said they raise antibodies in the gut where you’d expect.  But mosquitoes bite and hit the bloodstream.  That means we need to inject the proteins into people.”

Rupert glared angrily.  “Didn’t you just say you can’t vaccinate everyone? Isn’t that about two billion people?”

Malisma noticed how incredibly perpendicular the walls were.  And how close, and getting closer.  “Um, yes.  So for the moment EDS doesn’t actually work.”

Rupert hissed audibly.  “Doesn’t actually work.  So who needs this pond scum?”

Malisma looked up.  “It could still maybe work for water-borne diseases.  That includes cholera and other major killers.”

“Cholera.”  Rupert snorted.  “There’s no market for that, none where we could make a dime.”

“It’s only pond scum,” Malisma said.  “You could grow it in a bathtub and still make money.”

Rupert pondered.  “Think of a better name, please.  And your R&D counterpart.  Could you also send in this Cholera?”

Malisma glared across Rupert’s desk.  “That’s ‘Corrina,’ you simp.”




Quest for Edible Malarial Vaccine Leads to Other Potential Medical Uses for Algae