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Amateur Biologists Are New Fear in Making a Mutant Flu Virus

Amateur Biologists Are New Fear in Making a Mutant Flu Virus | MicrobiologyBytes | Scoop.it
Scientists are sharply divided over how easy it might be to make a virulent form of the bird flu virus.

 

Really?  Anyone who actually understands just how much training it takes to do the kind of mol biol AND virus culture AND animal experiments, thinks it would be easy for amateurs to make mutant flu viruses?  Scare mongering continues...!


Via Ed Rybicki
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AJCann's comment, March 6, 2012 4:38 AM
Sigh.
AJCann's comment, March 6, 2012 10:46 AM
To be fair, if you read right to the end of the article, Zimmer eventually gets round to that.
Ed Rybicki's comment, March 6, 2012 10:48 AM
...after he scare-mongered. Gratuitously. Glow-in-the-dark E colis do not a plague virus make.
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The Weirdness that is Extra-Pulmonary Tuberculosis

The Weirdness that is Extra-Pulmonary Tuberculosis | MicrobiologyBytes | Scoop.it

"The point is: tuberculosis is not exclusively a respiratory disease but an opportunistic pathogen capable of infecting pretty much any organ in the body. It’s happy anywhere, sitting in its macrophagic throne pissing off the immune system with its infuriating presence and forming graulomas. It’s not only impressive but unique and weird."

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Is the mystery of the appendix close to being unravelled?

Is the mystery of the appendix close to being unravelled? | MicrobiologyBytes | Scoop.it

"My idea is that the appendix is a storehouse, a cultivation centre for the normal, beneficial bacteria that our gut needs," he says. "That safe house would be necessary and useful in the event that the main compartment of bacteria, the large bowel, got contaminated with some kind of infectious organism and got flushed out."

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The risks and benefits of publishing mutant flu studies

The risks and benefits of publishing mutant flu studies | MicrobiologyBytes | Scoop.it

Need a bioethics case study? Here's one - nice interactive timeline too.

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Edward Jenner and the history of smallpox and vaccination

Edward Jenner and the history of smallpox and vaccination | MicrobiologyBytes | Scoop.it

"In 1797, Jenner sent a short communication to the Royal Society describing his experiment and observations. However, the paper was rejected. Then in 1798, having added a few more cases to his initial experiment, Jenner privately published a small booklet entitled An Inquiry into the Causes and Effects of the Variolae Vaccinae, a disease discovered in some of the western counties of England, particularly Gloucestershire and Known by the Name of Cow Pox."

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Beyond Antibodies [video]

Beyond Antibodies [video] | MicrobiologyBytes | Scoop.it

Like lightning, infectious diseases seldom strike twice because the human immune system typically produces cells and antibodies that "remember" a specific virus or bacterium, allowing our bodies to more rapidly fight the invader whenever it reappears. Indeed, many vaccines confer protection by exposing the body to a piece of microbe and prompting the immune system's B cells to produce neutralizing antibodies. But now a new study suggests that although antibodies are essential to prevent reinfection, B cells have other ways of fending off an initial attack by certain viruses. This possibility not only upends prevailing immunological wisdom but also may usher in new treatments for viral diseases.

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Unique new flu virus found in bats

Unique new flu virus found in bats | MicrobiologyBytes | Scoop.it

This study of the genetic material of flu virus A in three fruit bats in Guatemala provides important new information to those involved in flu research and pandemic awareness. Previously, non-human flu strains were thought to be confined largely to birds and pigs, but this study highlights the potential for bats also to harbour flu viruses that could potentially threaten humans, given the correct sequence of rare events. The awareness this research provides may lead to a better understanding of the potential risks posed by bat flu to humans in the future.

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Electron Microscopy Through the Ages

Electron Microscopy Through the Ages | MicrobiologyBytes | Scoop.it

Invented in the early 1930s, electron microscopy revolutionized the fields of materials science and ushered in the new field of cell biology. The magnification power achieved by electron microscopes was unprecedented, and for the first time scientists were able to visualize the subcellular world.

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Vaccine for Schmallenberg virus on its way?

Vaccine for Schmallenberg virus on its way? | MicrobiologyBytes | Scoop.it

Virologists are meeting in Leylstad, the Netherlands, this week to discuss Schmallenberg virus, which belongs to a virus family never seen in Europe before. Three companies are already testing candidate vaccines. Normally these would take years to come to market but faster approval could stop the virus taking hold.

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Ed Rybicki's comment, March 1, 2012 1:33 AM
Plants: the clean, green way to go. We are presently working on Rift Valley fever virus and have a proposal in for Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever virus, both bunyaviruses in good standing. Like Schmallenberg.
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CDC in fiscal peril

CDC in fiscal peril | MicrobiologyBytes | Scoop.it

"Cuts to the CDC have already contributed to the loss of nearly 50,000 jobs in state and local health departments since 2008. This year, the administration argues that “efficiencies” will make possible the specific cuts it has proposed in areas such as adult-immunization funding and epidemiological support. But CDC advocates and public-health officials are sceptical. A proposed $47-million cut to the Strategic National Stockpile “is a lot more than just efficiency. It’s going to cut capability as well,” says Crystal Franco, an associate with the Center for Biosecurity of UPMC in Baltimore, Maryland. “We are reaching the tipping point where preparedness efforts are going to be reversed because of the lack of funding,” she adds."

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Schmallenberg virus found on 74 farms in England

Schmallenberg virus found on 74 farms in England | MicrobiologyBytes | Scoop.it

An animal disease which causes birth defects and miscarriages in livestock has been found on 74 farms in England. The Schmallenberg virus first emerged in the Netherlands and Germany last year, causing mild to moderate symptoms in adult cattle, including reduced milk yield and diarrhoea, and late abortions and birth deformities in newborn sheep, goats and cattle.

More info: http://www.microbiologybytes.com/blog/2012/01/25/10-things-you-didnt-know-about-schmallenberg-virus-aka-wtf-is-schmallenberg-virus/

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Also Receiving Antibiotics on Factory Farms: Shrimp

Also Receiving Antibiotics on Factory Farms: Shrimp | MicrobiologyBytes | Scoop.it

"...the bountiful platters of shrimp offered by fast-food and fast-casual restaurants ... may represent profound environmental damage. That’s correct, but it’s not the whole story. They also represent the sort of antibiotic misuse that has consumers wary of antibiotic resistance and suspicious of beef, pork and chicken in the United States — and they may have been produced with even more antibiotics, and even less oversight, than we have here."

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What You Need to Know About Hepatitis C

What You Need to Know About Hepatitis C | MicrobiologyBytes | Scoop.it

Healthland spoke with Dr. John Ward, who heads the CDC’s effort to fight hepatitis C, about who is at risk of infection, how the disease is really spread and why it’s important to know your hepatitis C status now.

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Worldwide march of banana fungus

Worldwide march of banana fungus | MicrobiologyBytes | Scoop.it

Black leaf streak disease (Mycosphaerella fijiensis) affects leaf photosynthesis, and causes premature ripening. It is the most important and destructive banana disease in the world. It starts with small flecks and spreads to the whole banana leaves - the disease can totally destroy the whole banana plant. Using genetic markers researchers were able to map the streaks on 735 banana leaves from 37 different countries and identify genetic similarities.

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Sun-dried tomatoes hepatitis link

Sun-dried tomatoes hepatitis link | MicrobiologyBytes | Scoop.it

UK health experts believe sun-dried tomatoes could be the cause of a recent outbreak of hepatitis A. The Health Protection Agency and the Food Standards Agency fear contaminated samples were to blame for the infection that hospitalised four people and caused illness in another three people in late 2011. Hepatitis A virus is carried by human faeces and can be passed on through contact with food or water. Severe cases can lead to liver failure. All of the seven people infected have since made a recovery.

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Influenza virus attachment to cells

Influenza virus attachment to cells | MicrobiologyBytes | Scoop.it
We’ve briefly considered the structure of influenza virions and how the viral RNAs can encode one or more proteins. Now we’ll consider how influenza viruses multiply.

Via Chris Upton + helpers
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Schmallenberg virus poses little risk to humans

Schmallenberg virus poses little risk to humans | MicrobiologyBytes | Scoop.it

"As yet, no human cases of Schmallenberg virus have been detected in any country, and the most closely related viruses only cause animal disease. Early assessments of the virus suggest that it is unlikely that it can spread to humans. German researchers have looked at the virus’ DNA and found it lacking genetic sequences that would make it a threat to people. However, human implications cannot be ruled out completely until there is a better understanding of the virus. Because this risk cannot be ruled out, pregnant women are advised to avoid close contact with animals that are giving birth, as there is a theoretical risk of infection from sheep, goats and cattle that could harm a woman’s own health and that of her unborn child.
Very few pregnant women are likely to come into contact with an infected animal. However, pregnant women who do so are advised to seek medical advice if they’re concerned that they could have been infected by farm livestock."

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Want to win £500? Read this!

Want to win £500? Read this! | MicrobiologyBytes | Scoop.it

Have you seen a great piece of microbiology public engagement? Or maybe you've read an amazing microbiology book. Perhaps there's been a brilliant TV programme that you think deserves recognition. If so, you could nominate them for the new SfAM Communications Award. There are two categories now so scientists and professional communicators BOTH get a stab at winning £500 and taking a trip to Edinburgh to receive this brilliant prize.

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Pioneering research reveals versatile bacterium's secrets

Pioneering research reveals versatile bacterium's secrets | MicrobiologyBytes | Scoop.it

Ground-breaking research by an international team of scientists will help to make one of the most versatile of bacteria even more useful to society and the environment. Though it lives naturally in the soil, the bacterium Bacillus subtilis is widely used as a model laboratory organism. It is also used as a 'cell factory' to produce vitamins for the food industry and, in biotechnology, to produce enzymes such as those used in washing powders.

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A norovirus outbreak triggered by copper intoxication

A norovirus outbreak triggered by copper intoxication | MicrobiologyBytes | Scoop.it

We report an unusual outbreak of norovirus infection on a coach trip. Overall, 30 of 40 people (including drivers and crew) developed nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhoea, 11 of them on the first day of the trip. The incidence epidemic curve showed a first peak on Day 1 and a second on Day 4. Nine passengers were hospitalised with gastrointestinal symptoms. Norovirus was found in stool samples from two patients, but the infection could not explain the first peak in the epidemic curve only a few hours after departure. Interviews with the passengers and an inspection of the coach and its water supply implicated the water used for coffee and tea as the potential source. Microbiological investigations of the water were negative, but chemical analysis showed a toxic concentration of copper. Blood copper levels as well as renal and liver function were determined in 28 of the 32 passengers who had been exposed to the water. One passenger who did not have gastrointestinal symptoms had an elevated copper level of 25.9 µmol/L, without loss of liver or renal function. It is likely that the spread of norovirus was enhanced because of vomiting of one of the passengers due to copper intoxication.

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T-Bee

T-Bee | MicrobiologyBytes | Scoop.it

Researchers are trying to train bees to sniff out tuberculosis.

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Virology 101

Virology 101 | MicrobiologyBytes | Scoop.it
A new class is starting at virology blog: Virology 101. I began this blog in 2004, to give back what I’ve learned from studying viruses for 30+ years.

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Amoeba may offer key clue to photosynthetic evolution

Amoeba may offer key clue to photosynthetic evolution | MicrobiologyBytes | Scoop.it

The major difference between plant and animal cells is the photosynthetic process, which converts light energy into chemical energy. When light isn't available, energy is generated by breaking down carbohydrates and sugars, just as it is in animal and some bacterial cells. Two cellular organelles are responsible for these two processes: the chloroplasts for photosynthesis and the mitochondria for sugar breakdown. New research has opened a window into the early stages of chloroplast evolution.

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Bacteria-Killing Viruses Wield an Iron Spike

Bacteria-Killing Viruses Wield an Iron Spike | MicrobiologyBytes | Scoop.it

Forget needles in haystacks. Try finding the tip of a needle in a virus. Scientists have long known that a group of viruses called bacteriophages have a knack for infiltrating bacteria and that some begin their attack with a protein spike. But the tip of this spike is so small that no one knew what it was made of or exactly how it worked. Now a team of researchers has found a single iron atom at the head of the spike, a discovery that suggests phages enter bacteria in a different way than surmised.

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Vaccines for HIV: A new design strategy

Vaccines for HIV: A new design strategy | MicrobiologyBytes | Scoop.it
HIV has eluded vaccine-makers for thirty years, in part due to the virus' extreme ability to mutate.

 

With a mathematical tool called random matrix theory, the team searched for high-order evolutionary constraints in the so-called Gag region of HIV. The researchers were looking for collectively co-evolving groups of amino acids with a high number of negative correlations (meaning multiple mutations would destroy the virus) and a low number of positive correlations (meaning the virus could survive multiple mutations). They found this combination in a region, which they call Gag sector 3, that is involved in stabilizing the protein shell of the virus: too many mutations here, and the virus' structure would collapse.


Via Ed Rybicki
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