News FocusInfectious Diseases

Taming Pathogens: An Elegant Idea, But Does It Work?

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Science  30 May 2003:
Vol. 300, Issue 5624, pp. 1362-1364
DOI: 10.1126/science.300.5624.1362

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Two prominent evolutionary biologists are challenging the popular idea that an evolutionary tradeoff faced by pathogens may be the secret to making diseases less harmful through so-called virulence management. They argue that the models used to forecast pathogens' behavior collapse in the face of the true complexity of diseases. Yet even the skeptics agree that the idea might be useful in planning vaccination campaigns (see sidebar).