Two flu shots per year may become the standard, along with increases in “boosters” for other vaccines. Why? Because increasing data shows that effective life spans are limited for some vaccines, and we are all different to one degree or another. See this April 18, 2019 article in Science:  “How long do vaccines last? The surprising answers may help protect people longer.”

The abstract pasted below was not an April fool’s joke. To the contrary, it illustrated the increasing efforts to combine in silico and in vitro analysis to predict in vivo outcomes, and to extrapolate across biologic systems. The abstract is online here, as of April 1, 2019, at Environmental Health Perspectives.


Low-cost, high-throughput in vitro bioassays have potential as alternatives to animal models for toxicity testing. However, incorporating in vitro bioassays into chemical toxicity evaluations such as read-across requires significant data curation and analysis based on knowledge of relevant toxicity mechanisms, lowering the enthusiasm of using the massive amount of unstructured public data.

We aimed to develop a computational method to automatically extract useful bioassay data from a public repository (i.e., PubChem) and assess its ability to predict animal toxicity using a novel bioprofile-based read-across approach.

A training database containing 7,385 compounds with diverse rat acute oral toxicity data was searched against PubChem to establish in vitro bioprofiles. Using a novel subspace clustering algorithm, bioassay groups that may inform on relevant toxicity mechanisms underlying acute oral toxicity were identified. These bioassays groups were used to predict animal acute oral toxicity using read-across through a cross-validation process. Finally, an external test set of over 600 new compounds was used to validate the resulting model predictivity.

Several bioassay clusters showed high predictivity for acute oral toxicity (positive prediction rates range from 62–100%) through cross-validation. After incorporating individual clusters into an ensemble model, chemical toxicants in the external test set were evaluated for putative acute toxicity (positive prediction rate equal to 76%). Additionally, chemical fragment–in vitro–in vivo relationships were identified to illustrate new animal toxicity mechanisms.

The in vitro bioassay data-driven profiling strategy developed in this study meets the urgent needs of computational toxicology in the current big data era and can be extended to develop predictive models for other complex toxicity end points.″

For persons facing cancer in the Chicago area, May 11, 2019 will bring a local opportunity to learn about the entire range of legal rights of persons during and after cancer. The location is a conference room at a hotel near O’Hare.

Triage Cancer is a one of a kind national not for profit lead by two lawyers who are by far the national leaders on this topic. Indeed, Joanna Morales and Monica Bryant recently wrote a comprehensive book on the topic. I’m delighted to serve as a director.

For more specific on the conference, and to register, go to this page at Triage Cancer.  

The book is available online from the American Bar Association, at this page.

Cancer Rights Law: An Interdisciplinary Approach

By Monica Fawzy Bryant and Joanna Fawzy Morales

“Cancer Rights Law provides an overview of key areas of the law that often come into play for individuals who have been diagnosed with cancer and their caregivers, including health insurance, employment, disability insurance, genetics, estate planning and medical decision making, and finances and consumer rights.”

There’s never enough time to fully track asbestos developments in Europe. However, a December 2018 article from Clyde & Co, caught my eye and is worth reading as to the assessment of defense side lawyer regarding the evidence needed for a plaintiff to prevail on secondary exposure cases, and trial practice in Scotland. The conclusions were as follows:

“What can we learn?

  • These cases were heard within a period of a few weeks of each other, albeit by separate Judges. Inevitably the Judges must have conferred as to their decisions, which indicate that the standard of proof required in mesothelioma cases is very low. Much of the evidence was presented by the paralegals who took the initial witness statements. Commission evidence was not available. Affidavits were not available. The Courts were prepared to join the dots, albeit there were considerable gaps in the evidence.
  • These decisions indicate that Robin Howie is regarded by the court as a reliable and persuasive witness.
  • The importance of ensuring that all historical factual evidence is retained and indexed is essential. The only way to challenge cases where there is limited factual evidence provided by pursuers is by being in a position to lead contradictory factual evidence. Insurers/defender law firms have, in some cases, been able to access appropriate information from prior claims.
  • Finally, insurers should be cautious to challenge these cases on the basis of patchy evidence. Defenders are rarely provided with witness statements in Scotland. Efforts have been made over the years to encourage early and full disclosure of evidence, but these decisions do not support the insurers’ plight in this regard. Insurers have been warned that they should only expend resources on cases which are likely to involve a real dispute as to exposure or liability.”

Yesterday brought the issuance of dozens of papers about the importance – or not – of p-values. That’s important news for trial lawyers, corporate officers, corporate directors, and risk managers. Persons in those roles (and others) are in for surprises if not aware of and ready for debates about and likely reduction in the litigation-related power of p values. Indeed, the many papers issued yesterday on use of statistics deserve attention when thinking about opportunities and risks in litigation.

For yesterday’s editorial from the American Statistical Association, and more, go to “Moving to a World Beyond “p < 0.05.”

For the paper shown in the cartoon, go here to Nature.

For cogent history regarding use of p values in court, see my post back in 2012, as some of the debates were simmering.

For very learned discussion of the topic, see my prior post pointing out Nathan Schachtman’s pointed 2018 analysis of the use of of p values, and his critique of arguments to reduce reliance on the .05 standard.