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Kary Mullis – 2

response; you use a full-strength immune response that you already have in place. You just divert it to the target that you now have in mind–and it’s immediate. The chemistry is actually pretty complicated, but chemists are pretty clever these days. I’m glad to be one.

In May, 2006 Dr. Mullis added the following addendum about his present activity:

I have several years ago imagined that a particular kind of linker molecules could be employed as drugs against various infectious agents. The molecules would be designed on one end, to correspond, if not exactly, then functionally, to mimic an epitope for a pre-existing immune response, so as to attract antibodies or other immune system effectors. In most cases the immunogen responsible originally for the immunity in question would be best suited for this function if it were easily synthesizable.

On the other end of the molecule, would be a targeting moiety derived from a molecular evolutionary selection, as in the Selex method for aptamers, or the phage display method for peptides. This dual function molecule would serve as a linker between an active immune response and something which the drug user would like to be immune to now. Something like a new strain of influenza or an anti-biotic resistant strain of Staphylococcus aureus. I have stewed and brewed over this for some time and am presently being issued a US patent covering the general concept, and am in the unfortunate position for a totally scientific character of having to play business and set up a company to practice the new art and hopefully buy my wife Nancy a new house. I’ve named it Altermune.

On the philosophical side, I am comforted by this new activity. Our brain has created quite a complex, rapidly changing world, for our trusty, but blind immune system to function in. The immune system deserves some help from all those brains driving around rapidly spreading diseases.
And I was thinking that my last twenty years would get easier and things would get simpler. The best laid plans of mice and men do often go astray.

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