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Virology and Bioinformatics from Virology.ca
Virus and bioinformatics articles with some microbiology and immunology thrown in for good measure
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Mutation increases risk of infections

Mutation increases risk of infections | Virology and Bioinformatics from Virology.ca | Scoop.it
A pattern of genetic mutation has been found in avian flu that leads to a higher possibility of infections and diseases in humans....
Hannah Davis's insight:

Nature Communications paper can be found here:

http://www.nature.com/ncomms/2014/141120/ncomms6509/abs/ncomms6509.html

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Reconstruction of 1918-like avian influenza virus stirs concern over gain of function experiments

Reconstruction of 1918-like avian influenza virus stirs concern over gain of function experiments | Virology and Bioinformatics from Virology.ca | Scoop.it
The recent publication of new influenza virus gain of function studies from the laboratories of Kawaoka and Perez have unleashed another barrage of criticism.
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What the Tamiflu saga tells us about drug trials and big pharma

What the Tamiflu saga tells us about drug trials and big pharma | Virology and Bioinformatics from Virology.ca | Scoop.it
Ben Goldacre: We now know the government's Tamiflu stockpile wouldn't have done us much good in the event of a flu epidemic. But the secrecy surrounding clinical trials means there's a lot we don't know about other medicines we take
Chris Upton + helpers's insight:

It's sad that this causes distrust that spills over to vaccines -  which WORK!

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Colocalization of Different Influenza Viral RNA Segments in the Cytoplasm before Viral Budding

Colocalization of Different Influenza Viral RNA Segments in the Cytoplasm before Viral Budding | Virology and Bioinformatics from Virology.ca | Scoop.it

Influenza A viruses cause one of the major respiratory infection diseases in humans. The viruses possess a genome consists of eight different RNA segments and the incorporation of all the eight RNA segments is required for the generation of an infectious virus particle. The precise process of how these eight viral RNA segments are co-packaged into progeny virus particles remains undefined due to the limitations of methodology to determine the locations of different vRNA segments in infected cells with single-molecule resolution. In this study, we established an experimental system to examine the localization of different viral RNA segments in an infected cell with high spatial precision. We found that viral RNA belonging to different segments gather together in the cytoplasm which is facilitated by cellular recycling endosomal protein Rab11. Our results supported the idea that eight different viral RNAs likely form a super-complex as they travel to the site for virion incorporation. These findings extend our knowledge on the process of influenza virus genome packaging and suggest a mechanism by which the genome assembly of different viral RNA segments is regulated.

 

Ed Rybicki's insight:

It has always been a bit of a mystery how the 8 different nucleoprotein components of the average influenza A virus come together for assembly - especially, if, as shown here, they assemble and are exported separately from the nucleus.  Yet another example of co-opting of cellular transport and organisation functions for the benefit of a parasite!  Nice use of a sophisticated microscopic technique, too.

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A geographic analysis of population density thresholds in the influenza pandemic of 1918-19

A geographic analysis of population density thresholds in the influenza pandemic of 1918-19 | Virology and Bioinformatics from Virology.ca | Scoop.it

Geographic variables play an important role in the study of epidemics. The role of one such variable, population density, in the spread of influenza is controversial.

Prior studies have tested for such a role using arbitrary thresholds for population density above or below which places are hypothesized to have higher or lower mortality. The results of such studies are mixed.

The objective of this study is to estimate, rather than assume, a threshold level of population density that separates low-density regions from high-density regions on the basis of population loss during an influenza pandemic. We study the case of the influenza pandemic of 1918--19 in India, where over 15 million people died in the short span of less than one year.

 

Pandemic recombinant influenza virus graphic from Russell Kightley Media

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Ed Rybicki's curator insight, February 25, 2013 3:00 AM

This is an interesting paper, because it is one of the ONLY ones I have ever seen that analyses ANYTHING to do with the 1918 H1N1 pandemic, that comes from a developing country.  Moreover, it makes what I think is possibly quite a valuable contribution to "health geographics", especially for high-denisty low-income populations.

I also note that 15 MILLION PEOPLE were estimated to have died in India ALONE: this is close to the old estimate for the WORLD total (20 million), which was revised upwards to 50-100 million after developing country stats were taken into account, in the late 1990s.

Makes you wonder what a new version might do....

 

 

Max Minard's curator insight, March 22, 11:52 PM

This analysis focuses on population density in regards to the influenza pandemic of 1918-1919. After extensive research and experimenting, researchers found that "districts on the low side of the threshold experienced rates of population loss (3.72%) that were lower than districts on the high side of the threshold (4.69%)". With the results from these experiments, geographers will be able to predict future pandemic patterns in population and how to stop virus at form spreading further. By determining techniques to stop the pandemic while observing the population density of the outbreak, they might be able to successfully stop the disease at its source. Personally, I see this as not only a medical break through, but a geographical innovation that allows us to study population density in a much more extensive fashion. 

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Influenza animation - flu virus mechanism

Animation of the mechanism of an influenza virus and how Crucell's antibodies target the HA1 proteins on the virus and prevent further spread of influenza.

 

Might be an advert, but it's one of the nicest animations of flu virus entry and neutralisation that I've ever seen.  In fact, it's the ONLY one!

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Three-dimensional analysis of ribonucleoprotein complexes in influenza A virus : Nature Communications : Nature Publishing Group

Although genome segmentation provides advantages such as genetic reassortment, which contributes to the emergence of novel strains with pandemic potential, it complicates the genome packaging of progeny virions.

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The evolution of pandemic influenza: evidence from India, 1918-19

The 1918-19 'Spanish' Influenza was the most devastating pandemic in recent history, with estimates of global mortality ranging from 20 to 50 million. The focal point of the pandemic was India, with an estimated death toll of between 10 and 20 million. We will characterize the pattern of spread, mortality, and evolution of the 1918 influenza across India using spatial or temporal data.
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Identification, Characterization, and Natural Selection of Mutations Driving Airborne Transmission of A/H5N1 Virus: Cell

Identification, Characterization, and Natural Selection of Mutations Driving Airborne Transmission of A/H5N1 Virus: Cell | Virology and Bioinformatics from Virology.ca | Scoop.it

Recently, A/H5N1 influenza viruses were shown to acquire airborne transmissibility between ferrets upon targeted mutagenesis and virus passage. The critical genetic changes in airborne A/Indonesia/5/05 were not yet identified. Here, five substitutions proved to be sufficient to determine this airborne transmission phenotype. Substitutions in PB1 and PB2 collectively caused enhanced transcription and virus replication. One substitution increased HA thermostability and lowered the pH of membrane fusion. Two substitutions independently changed HA binding preference from α2,3-linked to α2,6-linked sialic acid receptors. The loss of a glycosylation site in HA enhanced overall binding to receptors. The acquired substitutions emerged early during ferret passage as minor variants and became dominant rapidly. Identification of substitutions that are essential for airborne transmission of avian influenza viruses between ferrets and their associated phenotypes advances our fundamental understanding of virus transmission and will increase the value of future surveillance programs and public health risk assessments.

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PLOS Pathogens: Influenza Virus Aerosols in Human Exhaled Breath: Particle Size, Culturability, and Effect of Surgical Masks

PLOS Pathogens: Influenza Virus Aerosols in Human Exhaled Breath: Particle Size, Culturability, and Effect of Surgical Masks | Virology and Bioinformatics from Virology.ca | Scoop.it

The CDC recommends that healthcare settings provide influenza patients with facemasks as a means of reducing transmission to staff and other patients, and a recent report suggested that surgical masks can capture influenza virus in large droplet spray. However, there is minimal data on influenza virus aerosol shedding, the infectiousness of exhaled aerosols, and none on the impact of facemasks on viral aerosol shedding from patients with seasonal influenza.

We collected samples of exhaled particles (one with and one without a facemask) in two size fractions (“coarse”>5 µm, “fine”≤5 µm) from 37 volunteers within 5 days of seasonal influenza onset, measured viral copy number using quantitative RT-PCR, and tested the fine-particle fraction for culturable virus.

Fine particles contained 8.8 (95% CI 4.1 to 19) fold more viral copies than did coarse particles. Surgical masks reduced viral copy numbers in the fine fraction by 2.8 fold (95% CI 1.5 to 5.2) and in the coarse fraction by 25 fold (95% CI 3.5 to 180). Overall, masks produced a 3.4 fold (95% CI 1.8 to 6.3) reduction in viral aerosol shedding. Correlations between nasopharyngeal swab and the aerosol fraction copy numbers were weak (r = 0.17, coarse; r = 0.29, fine fraction). Copy numbers in exhaled breath declined rapidly with day after onset of illness. Two subjects with the highest copy numbers gave culture positive fine particle samples.

Surgical masks worn by patients reduce aerosols shedding of virus. The abundance of viral copies in fine particle aerosols and evidence for their infectiousness suggests an important role in seasonal influenza transmission. Monitoring exhaled virus aerosols will be important for validation of experimental transmission studies in humans.

Ed Rybicki's insight:

Bottom line: masks work, to at least drastically reduce levels of aerosolised virus.  But the PATIENTS should wear them...B-)

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H5N1: US: New bird flu virus killing baby seals

H5N1: US: New bird flu virus killing baby seals | Virology and Bioinformatics from Virology.ca | Scoop.it
Via nzherald.co.nz, a report datelined July 31: New bird flu virus killing baby seals - study. You'll see I've put in a link to mBio, but the report is presumably embargoed until whenever July 31 arrives in your time zone....
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BMC Infectious Diseases | Interspecies interactions and potential Influenza A virus risk in small swine farms in Peru

The recent avian influenza epidemic in Asia and the H1N1 pandemic demonstrated that influenza A viruses pose a threat to global public health. The animal origins of the viruses confirmed the potential for interspecies transmission.
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Flu season finally arrives, CDC reports | Tibidy Health

The flu season may finally be picking up steam after the slowest start in nearly three decades, a new government report suggests.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports an uptick in the number of samples testing positive for the...
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