"...while this laboratory based study has found some rather intriguing results, the ability to translate its finding into a therapy for limiting infection is hampered by one key fact: DNA reproduction is an important process constantly performed within our bodies as our cells replicate. It therefore remains to be seen whether we can harness this defensive mechanism as a way to fight HIV or other viral infection without negatively affecting vital processes in the body."
Clostridium difficile is thought to be spread in hospital through contact with infected patients, but new UK research has found that this may not be the case. The research found that two-thirds of new cases in hospital were not linked to any cases of patients known to be infected. Less than a quarter of the newly infected patients had the same type of C. difficile infection as a patient on their ward who was known to be infected. This research challenges the assumption that C. difficile is spread on wards through contact with infected patients. It means that current strategies focusing on preventing person-to-person spread may not stop C. difficile transmission.
Streptomyces are weird and wonderful, even among the Bacteria (and this is a kingdom not short on oddities). They look and grow like fungi but are 1000 times smaller. That characteristic earthy smell you get walking in the countryside? That’s made by Streptomyces bacteria. They also make about 60 per cent of all the antibiotics and anticancer drugs that we use clinically, in addition to numerous immunosuppressants and antiparasitic drugs that helped to revolutionise medicine in the last century. In other words, Streptomyces are very friendly, very useful bacteria.
Studying self-replicating genetic units, called plasmids, found in one of the world's widest-ranging pathogenic soil bacteria - the crown-gall-disease-causing microorganism Agrobacterium tumefaciens - Indiana University biologists are showing how freeloading, mutant derivatives of these plasmids benefit while the virulent, disease-causing plasmids do the heavy-lifting of initiating infection in plant hosts. The research confirms that the ability of bacteria to cause disease comes at a significant cost that is only counterbalanced by the benefits they experience from infected host organisms.
For animals that live in the blackness of the deep ocean, a little bit of bioluminescence goes a long way. For the squid Euprymna scolopes, this bioluminescence is generated by Vibrio fischeri bacteria that live within its light organ. The light organ is incredible, and it helps to hide the squid’s silhouette. This symbiosis is a win–win situation: the bacteria get housed and fed, and the squid gets a built-in cloaking device. Free-living bacteria also generate bioluminescence – but if they’re not in a symbiotic relationship, why do they bother?
A mysterious virus that causes abortions and birth deformities in farm animals including sheep and cattle has been confirmed in the UK. Four sheep farms in Norfolk, Suffolk and East Sussex are known to be harbouring the disease, which is believed to be transmitted by midges. The microbe has been given the provisional name Schmallenberg virus and first surfaced in the Netherlands and Germany in August 2011. Since then, hundreds of farms across those countries and Belgium have been affected. The disease is difficult to detect in adult animals and only becomes apparent after affected livestock give birth. There is no treatment or vaccine for the newly emerged disease.
Getting rid of an infectious disease reduces human suffering. But it can be a wise investment, too. It is estimated that America recouped the $21m it contributed to eradicating smallpox in the ten years to 1978 in just 26 days, simply by dispensing with the need for further jabs. (Polio may be the next in line.) But a disease need not be eradicated completely to ease the pressure on public-health budgets. For all but mild afflictions vaccinating large portions of a population is cheaper than letting an illness linger. That is because an endemic disease imposes a cost on society, directly in treating the sick, and indirectly through lost productivity...
Uh, wouldn't it be more accurate to say "Vaccine not developed to protect against norovirus"?
"The vaccine, which could be available in four to five years, may prove popular in children's day care centres and among cruise ship workers, hospital staff, carers in old people's homes, and the military, all of which face regular outbreaks of norovirus."
A measles outbreak has been declared on Merseyside. There are 13 confirmed and 16 suspected cases ranging in age from nine months to adults aged in their 20s. Six people, four children and two adults, required treatment in hospital. This compares to just one confirmed case on Merseyside in the first six weeks of 2011 and one in the corresponding period of 2010.
Where do cistrons come from? In a lecture yesterday I said the term monocistronic was derived from the Greek for one message. One of my students has pointed out that "cistron" actually comes from the Greek for "bead, based on an ancient Greek instrument called the Sistron and ancestor of the tambourine.
For millions of the world's poor, parasitic infections can be debilitating or even lethal. There are high hopes for new mass medication programmes but treatment has not always proceeded as planned, and in some cases there has been fierce local resistance.
I've always said I'd take another look at Zotero when this happens. Except that I don't have time right now. My concern is that Zotero will be like another Evernote for me - a brilliant piece of software but actually another destination outside my workflow (CiteULike) I never visit. Need someone to convince me I'm wrong:
"Today we’re delighted to announce that Zotero 3.0 has officially arrived. Zotero 3.0 marks a major departure from previous versions, most notably with the new ability to run outside the Firefox browser. Available for Mac, Windows, and Linux, this standalone version of Zotero contains all the great functionality of the old Firefox-based Zotero but now enables users to integrate Zotero into browsers other than Firefox like Google Chrome and Apple Safari."
A normally harmless virus has infiltrated the oncology department at Heidelberg University's hospital, infecting 19 severely ill patients and possibly leading to three deaths. Health authorities are searching for the source of the outbreak. Since the beginning of 2012 a wave of Human respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) has been coursing through three different cancer wards in the Baden-Würrtemburg hospital. Officials have not yet identified the source of the infection, which rarely leads to fatalities in health people.
Getting rid of an infectious disease reduces human suffering. But it can be a wise investment, too. It is estimated that America recouped the $21m it contributed to eradicating smallpox in the ten years to 1978 in just 26 days, simply by dispensing with the need for further jabs. (Polio may be the next in line.) But a disease need not be eradicated completely to ease the pressure on public-health budgets. For all but mild afflictions vaccinating large portions of a population is cheaper than letting an illness linger. That is because an endemic disease imposes a cost on society, directly in treating the sick, and indirectly through lost productivity.
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