Virology News
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Virology News
Topical news snippets about viruses that affect people.  And other things. Like zombies B-)
Curated by Ed Rybicki
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Zika vaccine may be ready for emergency use this year

Zika vaccine may be ready for emergency use this year | Virology News | Scoop.it

WINNIPEG, Manitoba, Jan 28 (Reuters) - A vaccine for the Zika virus, which has been linked to severe birth defects in thousands of infants, could be ready for emergency use before year-end, one of its lead developers said on Thursday, a timetable...

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Thailand and United States collaboration in HIV/AIDS problem

Disease seems to be one of the biggest challenges in the world. The United States and Thailand have many kinds of cooperation in Health and Medicine and espe...

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Op-Ed: Mbeki's reputation is not in tatters because he was aloof

Op-Ed: Mbeki's reputation is not in tatters because he was aloof | Virology News | Scoop.it

It is because his policies caused hundreds of thousands of avoidable deaths. By Nathan Geffen for GROUNDUP.

Ed Rybicki's insight:

Absolutely!  I harbour a special animosity toward the Bearded Sage, largely because he was so wilfully misled during the HIV crisis years in South Africa.  I sincerely hope he is brought to book for it one day - and not just IN a book, like the one by Nicoli Nattrass that so brillaintly exposes what the government did.

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Bill Gates: GMOs Will End Starvation in Africa

Bill Gates: GMOs Will End Starvation in Africa | Virology News | Scoop.it

This week, Bill and Melinda Gates spoke to the Wall Street Journal at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, about how food biotechnology can help those in Africa.

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Homo Naledi May Be About Two Million Years Old

Homo Naledi May Be About Two Million Years Old | Virology News | Scoop.it
A new report revealed that the pre-historic human species Homo naledi may be about two million years old. Paleoanthropologist Francis Thackeray developed a mathematical method to obtain the age of the human species.
Ed Rybicki's insight:

Francis used to live on the same university residence corridor as me in 1974.  He was serious even then...B-)

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Zika Virus Requires an Urgent Response - NY Times

Zika Virus Requires an Urgent Response - NY Times | Virology News | Scoop.it
No sooner was the Ebola virus subdued in Africa than another virus, Zika, began sweeping through South and Central America. It has been linked to serious birth defects and is threatening to invade the United States. It is imperative that the World Health Organization not repeat its sluggish response to the Ebola crisis and act urgently this time to mobilize international action.

Until it reached the Western Hemisphere, the Zika virus — related to dengue, yellow fever and West Nile virus and named after the Ugandan forest where it was first identified almost 70 years ago — had caused little more than relatively mild, flulike infections. But in the nine months since it came to the Americas, it has moved swiftly through Brazil and two dozen other countries and territories, spread by mosquitoes of the Aedes species, which can breed in the tiniest pools of water and usually bite during the day, making them especially hard to control.
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Planning for the Next Ebola Outbreak

Planning for the Next Ebola Outbreak | Virology News | Scoop.it
A public-health nonprofit and an international drugmaker team up to stockpile hundreds of thousands of doses of a promising vaccine and to speed along the approval process.
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Genetic engineering could thwart the Zika virus, among other mosquito-borne diseases

Genetic engineering could thwart the Zika virus, among other mosquito-borne diseases | Virology News | Scoop.it

Despite the recent media frenzy concerning CRISPR and a much-vaunted genetics revolution, there have been few changes a lay person could use to show how our world has fundamentally changed thanks to genetic engineering. In fact, as technologypundit Peter Thiel put it, “Our world looks strangely old.” Save for cell phones and personal computers, much of our day-to-day existence is not that far removed from the state of things 20 or even 30 years ago.

With the recent use of genetically engineered mosquitoes in Brazil to halt the spread of the Zika virus, we might be beginning to see some major health improvements as a consequence of the genetics revolution. A world in which mosquitoes were all but eliminated from the ecosystem would look quite different from the world of today, especially for people living in the tropics where the threat of mosquito transmitted infections does more than just mar an otherwise tranquil margarita sipped from the veranda of a beach resort. This is not to beggar the more mundane advantages of a mosquito-free habitat, but rather call attention to the fact that for large parts of the world, including Brazil, mosquitoes can be the difference between life and death.

Ed Rybicki's insight:

Bring 'em on, I say!  Works in other insects, should work here too.

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As Zika Virus Rises, Vaccine Development Gets Attention

As Zika Virus Rises, Vaccine Development Gets Attention | Virology News | Scoop.it
With fears about the Zika virus outbreak in South America spreading, experts are turning toward developing a vaccine that could prevent the spread of the virus.
Ed Rybicki's insight:

One would hope so...of course, the time to act would have been before it got to S America, let alone N America!

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New Tests for Zika in the Works | The Scientist Magazine®

New Tests for Zika in the Works | The Scientist Magazine® | Virology News | Scoop.it
To answer questions about the risks of Zika virus infection, researchers need better diagnostics.
Ed Rybicki's insight:

OK, I'll make some proteins then B-)

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Dog Flu Spreading Fast Across U.S., Vets Issue Guidelines

Dog Flu Spreading Fast Across U.S., Vets Issue Guidelines | Virology News | Scoop.it

Animal health officials share what dog owners should know about the virus and what to do if their pets come down with it.

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Flu virus hijacking tactics pave way for new treatment

Flu virus hijacking tactics pave way for new treatment | Virology News | Scoop.it

Flu virus hijacking tactics revealed by scientists
by Kate Wighton
06 January 2016


Scientists at Imperial College London have discovered how flu viruses 'hijack' cell machinery when they infect the body.

The findings, published in the journal Nature, may pave the way for more effective antiviral treatments for pandemics and for seasonal flu, which infects over 800 million people worldwide every year.

In the research, the team used hamster-chicken hybrid cells to discover why avian influenza virus (bird flu) cannot usually infect mammal cells.

Up until now we haven’t understood why the flu virus has to change in order to hijack the human cell machinery
– Professor Wendy Barclay
Study Author
They found that a particular host protein – called ANP32A – which is also found in human cells, acts as an ‘insider’ and helps the virus replicate once the virus has gained entry into the cell.  Bird flu viruses can’t use the mammalian ANP32A unless they carry a particular mutation.

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Inovio Pharma, GeneOne Life Science Enter Collaboration for Zika Virus DNA Vaccine

Inovio Pharma, GeneOne Life Science Enter Collaboration for Zika Virus DNA Vaccine | Virology News | Scoop.it
Inovio Pharma (INO), GeneOne Life Science Enter Collaboration for Zika Virus Vaccine

GeneOne Life Science announced the initiation of a collaborative research program with Inovio Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: INO) to test and advance a DNA-based vaccine for preventing and treating the emerging and virulent Zika virus infection.

Inovio and its collaborators are leveraging their past experience in designing and testing novel DNA-based vaccines for related viruses including the West Nile, dengue, and chikungunya viruses. Moreover, Inovio and GeneOne are currently collaborating on two phase I stage vaccine candidates for severe infectious diseases: INO-4212, a vaccine for Ebola infection and GLS-5300, a vaccine for MERS infection. The Zika virus vaccine candidate is currently undergoing preclinical animal studies to evaluate its immunogenicity.

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Zika virus: How self-destructing genetically modified mosquitoes may be the answer

ABINGDON / UK — A British company Oxitec may have a way to fight Zika virus. They create genetically modified mosquitoes that produce offspring that will not...

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The fight against Zika creates a ridiculous catch-22 for women

The fight against Zika creates a ridiculous catch-22 for women | Virology News | Scoop.it

Latin American countries are telling women to avoid pregnancy

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Zika: a realistic view of what we know

Zika: a realistic view of what we know | Virology News | Scoop.it
As you’ve probably seen, unless you’ve been living in a cave, Zika virus is the infectious disease topic du jour. From an obscure virus to the newest scare, interest in the virus has skyrocketed just in the past few weeks:   I have a few pieces already on Zika, so I won’t repeat myself here.…
Ed Rybicki's insight:

Nice, cautious piece by Tara Smith.  I have been trying, via Twitter, to damp some of the hysteria and hype about Zika - but who cares about one cautious voice?  So there should be MORE - and this is one such.

 

Zika virus is a flavirirus related to dengue and yellow fever and Japanese encephalitis virus, and like them, is mosquito-transmitted.  In fact, it is transmitted by the same "Asian tiger mosquito" - Aedes aegyptii - as transmits YFV and dengue, and like them, has been spread around the tropics of the planet along with the mosquito vector.

 

The mosquito is an interesting beast, because it is hardy, can breed in very small deposits of water, likes preying on humans, and flies during the day - unlike most of its relatives.  It also has a penchant for breeding in places like discarded car tyres, and it turns out that a LOT of these are literally shipped around the developing world from developed countries like Japan, which has resulted in the mosquito going worldwide.


The virus is interesting too, because it is nothing like as nasty as dengue or YFV or JEV: there are apparently no deaths of children or adults that can be attributed to infection with it, unlike the case with its relatives.  Where it is potentially dangerous is the linkage - in naive populations - with microcephaly, and also with the paralytic Guillain-Barre syndrome.


I stress "in naive populations": the virus was discovered in Uganda's Zika Forest in 1947, and is endemic over large swathes of Africa, where it is not associated with anything other than mild and often inapparent infections, easily confused with influenza.  Its endemicity also means that literally everyone that can be infected will have been AS A CHILD - and presuming that like YFV, exposure leads to lifelong immunity, adults will be immune to the virus AND the purported side effects.


What will probably happen in Brazil and the South, Central and North American countries that it has spread to or is in the process of doing so, is that it will become endemic there - especially if it adapts to being spread by other mosquitoes such as the much more common Culex spp., which has apparently already happened.  When that happens, the African experience will become the norm - and hopefully the hype and hysteria will die away.


Until then - well, a vaccine would be nice!

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Brazil's surge in small-headed babies questioned

Brazil's surge in small-headed babies questioned | Virology News | Scoop.it
Organization says the spike might be largely the result of an increase in diagnoses of microcephaly — but not everyone agrees.

Alarm is growing about a reported rise in suspected cases of the rare condition, which has been tentatively linked to the rapid spread of the Zika virus through the Americas. But Jorge Lopez-Camelo and Ieda Maria Orioli, from the Latin American Collaborative Study of Congenital Malformations (ECLAMC), say that the surge might largely be attributed to the intense search for cases of the birth defect, and misdiagnoses, because of heightened awareness in the wake of the possible link with Zika.

This ‘awareness’ effect is well known and inevitable, they say, and must be revealing cases that would have gone unnoticed under normal circumstances. They also say that a high rate of misdiagnoses among reported cases is likely because the diagnostic criteria being used for microcephaly are broad.

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Viral Soldiers: Phage Therapy

Viral Soldiers: Phage Therapy | Virology News | Scoop.it
Phage therapy to combat bacterial infections is garnering attention for the second time in 100 years, but solid clinical support for its widespread use is still lacking.
Ed Rybicki's insight:

REALLY nice brief history, and good review of current work.

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Over 2,000 sheep hit with bluetongue virus in Georgia

Over 2,000 sheep hit with bluetongue virus in Georgia | Virology News | Scoop.it
The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) has confirmed that five isolated outbreaks of bluetongue have been detected in Georgia.
Ed Rybicki's insight:

That would be the actual country, for all y'all...B-)  

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Human infection with avian influenza A(H5N6) virus – China

On 18 January 2016, the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) of China notified WHO of 1 additional laboratory-confirmed case of human infection with avian influenza A(H5N6) virus.
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Obama calls for rapid Zika research as virus seen spreading

Obama calls for rapid Zika research as virus seen spreading | Virology News | Scoop.it
President Barack Obama on Tuesday called for the rapid development of tests, vaccines and treatments to fight the mosquito-transmitted Zika virus, which has been linked to birth defects and could spread to the United States in warmer months.
Ed Rybicki's insight:

Hee-eee-ey: over here!!!  I'd love some money to work on making Zika antigens!?

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Putin Says Russia Has Made “Highly Effective” Ebola Vaccine

Putin Says Russia Has Made “Highly Effective” Ebola Vaccine | Virology News | Scoop.it
One Russian politician says he expects the vaccine to earn Moscow "billions of dollars."
Ed Rybicki's insight:

Sounds like it's antibodies, but they don't say!  And yet again - a country that researched Ebola in the Cold War years now has a therapy.  Interesting, that...

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How A Hepatitis C Virus Peptide Destroys Other Viruses

How A Hepatitis C Virus Peptide Destroys Other Viruses | Virology News | Scoop.it
It's been known that the HCV α-helical (AH) peptide has broad antiviral properties—the same property that allows the peptide to hijack host cell structures for HCV replication also produces ruptures in viral membranes, exposing the viral genome to host enzymes that destroy the pathogens. However, the development of therapies inspired by the actions of the AH peptide has been limited by the lack of knowledge about why it selectively attacks the viral envelope but not host cell membranes.
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Scientists develop hydrogen 'nano reactor' by hiding bacteria genes inside a virus shell

Scientists develop hydrogen 'nano reactor' by hiding bacteria genes inside a virus shell | Virology News | Scoop.it
Researchers in the US have developed a virus-like biomaterial that catalyses the formation of hydrogen inexpensively and cleanly, which could lead to new environmentally friendly ways of producing biofuel.

The biomaterial is produced by placing a modified enzyme inside the protective protein shell of a virus, called a capsid. The resulting 'nano reactor' catalyst is 150 times more efficient than the unaltered form of the enzyme.
Ed Rybicki's insight:

Phages: what can I say.  Nature's nanotech enablers B-)

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