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Virology News
Topical news snippets about viruses that affect people. And other things.
Curated by Ed Rybicki
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Drug shows promise in busting Hepatitis C virus

Drug shows promise in busting Hepatitis C virus | Virology News | Scoop.it
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection affects about 4.1 million people in the United States alone and is the primary cause of liver cirrhosis and liver cancer.

Daclatasvir, a direct acting antiviral (DAA) agent, targets one of the HCV proteins NS5A and causes the fastest viral decline, within 12 hours of treatment ever seen with anti-HCV drugs.

Ed Rybicki's insight:

Yet another antiviral: to think, just 30 years ago, you could coount them on the fingers of one hand!

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Mexican Authorities: More Than 1 Million Chickens Exposed to Bird Flu - Fox News Latino

Mexican Authorities: More Than 1 Million Chickens Exposed to Bird Flu - Fox News Latino | Virology News | Scoop.it
Latinos Post Mexican Authorities: More Than 1 Million Chickens Exposed to Bird Flu Fox News Latino The outbreak of bird flu detected in the central Mexican state of Guanajuato is confined to 12 farms that have more than 1 million chickens, the...
Ed Rybicki's insight:

Again??  Vaccines, people!!

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African Smallholder Farmers Need to Become Virus Detectors

African Smallholder Farmers Need to Become Virus Detectors | Virology News | Scoop.it
African Smallholder Farmers Need to Become Virus Detectors - Unless African smallholder farmers, who comprise the majority of food growers on the continent, are given the tools and knowledge to cope with the increased occurrences of plant virus diseases,...
Ed Rybicki's insight:

...and we and others have actively tried to DO something about this, and been stymied by lack of money.  Just goes to show - plant viruses are alive and well, even when plant virology as a discipline is underfunded, understaffed, and not regarded as being very important any more.

 

Except in developing countries, obviously.

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Edel Perez Lopez's comment, August 24, 2013 10:38 AM
The truth is that yes, plant virology need money, but something we can do in poor countries, is preparing to recognize symptoms and ways to prevent diseases, what natural compounds used to remove the vectors .... and for that alone we need people willing to it .....
count me for that ....
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Studies in Viral Ecology, Volume 2: Animal Host Systems

Studies in Viral Ecology, Volume 2: Animal Host Systems | Virology News | Scoop.it
Studies in Viral Ecology, Volume 2: Animal Host SystemsEnglish | PDF | 444 Pages | 212 MbThe most complete treatment available of virus ecology across kingdoms of host speciesViruses are the most abundant organisms on the planet, occurring in every...
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Looks interesting?!

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Could SARS-like Virus be the Beginning of a UK Epidemic?

Could SARS-like Virus be the Beginning of a UK Epidemic? | Virology News | Scoop.it

...

a third patient in the UK has been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus. The patient, a male from Qatar had, according to sources, spent time with the second patient, who is hospitalized in Manchester.

The staff of Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham have refused to comment, with the exception of saying they are treating one patient for the novel virus. Our source states that several more people are suspected to have the virus, and ” a number of people in both cities are under observation”

Ed Rybicki's insight:

It's all a bit sinister - but this is how the SARS CoV outbreak started.  Small.  Person-to-person...

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Twitter / anjantz: My virology professor is wearing ...

My virology professor is wearing a "Got herpes?" Shirt! Lol on Valentines Day! #coincidence? I think not! Lol http://t.co/1VUQtvD0
Ed Rybicki's insight:

Excellent...!  Right up there with "What's the difference between love and herpes?  Answer - herpes LASTS...!"

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Virus Discovered in 2001 Hospitalizes Kids at Same Rate as Flu - The Boston Globe

A respiratory virus that was unknown to doctors until 2001, and has no treatment, causes the same severity of illness in young children as the flu, according to the largest study to estimate the infection’s US prevalence.
Ed Rybicki's insight:

And the more we look, the more we'll find

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Avoiding virus dangers in “domesticating” wild plants for biofuel use

Avoiding virus dangers in “domesticating” wild plants for biofuel use | Virology News | Scoop.it

In our ongoing quest for alternative energy sources, researchers are looking more to plants that grow in the wild for use in biofuels, plants such as switchgrass.

However, attempts to “domesticate” wild-growing plants have a downside, as it could make the plants more susceptible to any number of plant viruses.

In a presentation at this year’s meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Michigan State University plant biologist Carolyn Malmstrom said that when we start combining the qualities of different types of plants into one, there can be unanticipated results.

Ed Rybicki's insight:

Now THAT'S an interesting viewpoint - and points up the necessity for studying plant viruses and their interactions with their hosts.

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Bacteria Boost Vaccine Effectiveness | The Scientist Magazine®

Bacteria Boost Vaccine Effectiveness | The Scientist Magazine® | Virology News | Scoop.it
Researchers are looking to microbes to improve immune responses to a wide range of vaccines.
Ed Rybicki's insight:

Adjuvants rule, OK?!

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Creation of a cardiotropic adeno-associated virus: the story of viral directed evolution

Creation of a cardiotropic adeno-associated virus: the story of viral directed evolution | Virology News | Scoop.it

Adeno-associated virus (AAV) is an important vector system for human gene therapy. Although use of AAV serotypes can result in efficient myocardial gene transfer, improvements in the transduction efficiency and specificity are still required.  As a method for artificial modification and selection of gene function, directed evolution has been used for diverse applications in genetic engineering of enzymes and proteins. Since 2000, pioneering work has been performed on directed evolution of viral vectors. We further attempted to evolve the AAV using DNA shuffling and in vivo biopanning in a mouse model. An AAVM41 mutant was characterized, which was found to have improved transduction efficiency and specificity in myocardium, an attribute unknown for any natural AAV serotypes. This review focuses on the development of AAV vector for cardiac gene transfer, the history of directed evolution of viral vectors, and our creation of a cardiotropic AAV, which might have implications for the future design and application of viral vectors.

Ed Rybicki's insight:

A VERY interesting paper from the viewpoint of directed evolution of viruses AND from the standpoint of gene therapy.  Putting viruses to use!!

 

Adeno-associated virus particle courtesy of Russell Kightley Media

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PLOS ONE: Tobacco Mosaic Virus in the Lungs of Mice following Intra-Tracheal Inoculation

PLOS ONE: Tobacco Mosaic Virus in the Lungs of Mice following Intra-Tracheal Inoculation | Virology News | Scoop.it
See on Scoop.it - Virology News "Plant viruses are generally considered incapable of infecting vertebrates. Accordingly, they are not considered harmful for humans. However, a few studies questione...
Ed Rybicki's insight:

I am sure this article is going to get a LOT of attention - and for all the wrong reasons.  Here I comment on what I think.

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Flu virus weak spot found

Flu virus weak spot found | Virology News | Scoop.it
A key discovery for fighting the flu has been reported by Scripps Research scientists.
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Pro-Vaccine Communication: You’re Doing it Wrong

Pro-Vaccine Communication: You’re Doing it Wrong | Virology News | Scoop.it

A particular drum I like to beat, is about science communicators learning how to use images effectively. Give your blog post illustration some thought. Don't just stick any old candied cherry on the top of your post: make sure it’s the rightmaraschino cherry. Then add sprinkles.

 
Ed Rybicki's insight:

SO true - I recall making my brother pass out during some vaccination or other at a hospital in Zambia, by showing him a Punch magazine cartoon of a large nurse with a huge needle, about to prong a very small boy.  My mother was NOT pleased.

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New Virus May Cause Threat to US - KPLR 11

New Virus May Cause Threat to US - KPLR 11 | Virology News | Scoop.it
KPLR 11
New Virus May Cause Threat to US
KPLR 11
(KTVI) – A mysterious and dangerous new virus could pose a threat to the U.S. It's a SARS-like virus that can be fatal.
Ed Rybicki's insight:

I love it: "could pose a threat to the US".  Right up there with that movie quote: "No Americans dead?  Not news!"  How about to the WORLD, folks?!

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Beneficial lessons from viruses

Nature News

To thwart the antimicrobial responses of their hosts, pathogens have evolved diverse mechanisms, including autophagy. Knowledge of such mechanisms has now led to a pro-autophagy peptide that may be of therapeutic value.

Ed Rybicki's insight:

Interesting - BUT would you take a peptide that caused your cells to eat themselves - if stimulated by a virus or microbe?  I didn't think so....

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Two more deaths caused by unknown mite-related virus

Two more deaths caused by unknown mite-related virus | Virology News | Scoop.it
Japan's Health Ministry said on Wednesday that it had confirmed two more deaths were caused by an unknown viral infection transmitted by mites. With the number of deaths now at three, the two men, ...
Ed Rybicki's insight:

??  Still unknown??  NOT a very nice thing to pop up suddenly!

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Bats stressed by floods 'may shed virus'

BATS stressed by recent floods may cough, poo and vomit more often, leading to an outbreak of the deadly hendra virus, vets warn.
Ed Rybicki's insight:

Great: so now they have to worry about distressed bats, as well as flodding??

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Genes tell lurking virus when to ‘wake up’

Genes tell lurking virus when to ‘wake up’ | Virology News | Scoop.it

Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) hide within the worldwide human population. While dormant in the vast majority of those infected, these active herpesviruses can develop into several forms of cancer.

In an effort to understand and eventually develop treatments for these viruses, researchers at the University of North Carolina have identified a family of human genes known as Tousled-like kinases (TLKs) that play a key role in the suppression and activation of these viruses.

Read the original study 
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Farms asked to help track rare rat-borne virus - General news - Yorkshire Post

FARMERS in the region are being asked to take part in a national study investigating cases of a potentially-serious infection picked up from rats.  

The move follows the first-ever discovery in the UK of rats infected with the rare hantavirus after a farmer from the Humber area developed haemorrhagic fever and kidney problems from rodents on his property.  The case is believed to be the second in the area in recent years.  Experts speculate the animals could have picked up the strain of the virus, which originates in Asia, from rats transported on ships docking at the Humber ports of Immingham, Grimsby, Hull or Goole.

Ed Rybicki's insight:

Rats out of Asia, spreading a potentially lethal disease - where have we heard that before?  Just goes to show, increased internationalisation is NOT necessarily a good thing.

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Child critical in Brisbane hospital with bat virus

Child critical in Brisbane hospital with bat virus | Virology News | Scoop.it

An eight-year-old boy is critically ill in a Brisbane hospital with the Australian bat lyssavirus...The child was bitten or scratched by a bat two months ago prior to becoming ill in north Queensland, then three weeks ago the child became ill.


Rabies virus graphic courtesy of Russell Kightley Media

Ed Rybicki's insight:

Interesting how the virus is "closely related" to rabies, but is called something as innocuos as "Australian bat lyssavirus".  Because of course, Australia has no rabies.

 

 

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WHO | Novel coronavirus infection – update

WHO | Novel coronavirus infection – update | Virology News | Scoop.it
The United Kingdom (UK) has informed WHO of another confirmed case of infection with the novel coronavirus (NCoV). The patient is a UK resident and a relative of the case announced on 11 February 2013.
Ed Rybicki's insight:

This looks like person-to-person transmission; they also say the new case is a person who has "pre-existing medical conditions that may have increased susceptibility to respiratory infections".  So: like SARS, a nasty disease that can be transmitted between humans.  Let's hope it goes no further!  Thanks @cupton1!

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Microbial oceanography: Killers of the winners

More than 20 years ago, the discovery of billions of viruses in the oceans was big news, worthy of articles in Nature1 and on the front page of the Washington Post. A year later another Naturereport was published, this time about the most abundant bacterial group in the oceans, cryptically called SAR11. The two stories now come together in a paper published on Nature's website today. Zhao et al. describe DNA viruses that they call 'pelagiphages' and which infect laboratory-grown representatives of SAR11 bacteria. The authors use genomic-sequence data to argue that pelagiphages are among the most abundant viruses in the oceans and perhaps the entire biosphere. The report ends long-running speculation about SAR11, but prompts new questions about marine viruses and the control of microbes in the oceans.

Ed Rybicki's insight:

GREAT field to be in!!

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Ed Rybicki's curator insight, February 13, 2013 11:36 PM

Seriously big finding - there's a sea of opportunity out there!

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TMV in mouse lungs: more thoughts and refutations

TMV in mouse lungs: more thoughts and refutations | Virology News | Scoop.it
I have been thinking about this paper (see last post), and it and other people's posts (eg: Tommy Leung's) have prompted more response. I note the authors  say the following: "There is other publis...
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Further comment....

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PLOS ONE: Tobacco Mosaic Virus in the Lungs of Mice following Intra-Tracheal Inoculation

PLOS ONE: Tobacco Mosaic Virus in the Lungs of Mice following Intra-Tracheal Inoculation | Virology News | Scoop.it

Plant viruses are generally considered incapable of infecting vertebrates. Accordingly, they are not considered harmful for humans. However, a few studies questioned the certainty of this paradigm. Tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) RNA has been detected in human samples and TMV RNA translation has been described in animal cells. We sought to determine if TMV is detectable, persists, and remains viable in the lung tissues of mice following intratracheal inoculation, and we attempted to inoculate mouse macrophages with TMV. In the animal model, mice were intratracheally inoculated with 1011 viral particles and were sacrificed at different time points. The virus was detected in the mouse lungs using immunohistochemistry, electron microscopy, real-time RT-PCR and sequencing, and its viability was studied with an infectivity assay on plants. In the cellular model, the culture medium of murine bone marrow derived macrophages (BMDM) was inoculated with different concentrations of TMV, and the virus was detected with real-time RT-PCR and immunofluorescence. In addition, anti-TMV antibodies were detected in mouse sera with ELISA. We showed that infectious TMV could enter and persist in mouse lungs via the intratracheal route. Over 14 days, the TMV RNA level decreased by 5 log10 copies/ml in the mouse lungs and by 3.5 log10 in macrophages recovered from bronchoalveolar lavage. TMV was localized to lung tissue, and its infectivity was observed on plants until 3 days after inoculation. In addition, anti-TMV antibody seroconversions were observed in the sera from mice 7 days after inoculation. In the cellular model, we observed that TMV persisted over 15 days after inoculation and it was visualized in the cytoplasm of the BMDM. This work shows that a plant virus, Tobacco mosaic virus, could persist and enter in cells in mammals, which raises questions about the potential interactions between TMV and human hosts.

 
Ed Rybicki's insight:

Interesting paper!  Which proves...which proves...which proves TMV is seriously resistant to degradation in animals and in mammalian cells; that it can enter macrophages; and that it...what?  What, exactly, are the "...questions about the possible interactions..."?  What would TMV do in mammalian cells?  Yes, it might be incoated and be translated; it is far less likely that it MIGHT be able to replicate its RNA - and then?  While it can apparently be taken up quite efficiently by macrophages - a property which, incidentally, has led to its being trialled as an RNA vaccine delivery system - this is a dead end, and one that is quite normal for particles of any kind being introduced into mammals.

 

Which is something that happens every day, as we and our cousin mammals eat: it has been shown elsewhere that animals are actually quite good spreaders of plant viruses, some of which - like TMV and the even tougher Cauliflower mosaic virus - pass right through at high survival rates, and remain infectious.  We will all probably have eaten many grams of various viruses in our lives, and derived nothing more than nutition from them.

 

I also remember, even though it was very late at night, 31 years ago, and in a bar in Banff in Canada, a conversation with one Richard Zeyen, who told me they had used ELISA to test everyone in their lab for antibodies for TMV, seeing as they worked with it.  And everyone was immune - presumably, to aerosolised TMV that had been breathed in or otherwise ingested.  Proving...that oral vaccines based on TMV could work, and that most of us are probably immune to all sorts of viruses that don't replicate in us.  Including, in the case of many people in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa, sampled by one Don Hendry via the local blood bank, to a virus of Pine Emperor moths - because it multiples to such high levels in its host that anyone walking in the pine forests was bound to be exposed via the environment.

 

So this is an interesting paper - and no more.  It will, of course, lead to alarmist articles ad blog posts, and people calling out for urgent surveillance of food, in which people will find many viruses.  And so what?

 

 

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Why it was "Bye, bye blackbirds..."

Why it was "Bye, bye blackbirds..." | Virology News | Scoop.it

It is generally a mystery how new diseases arise and how the pathogens that cause them first enter countries. However, clues may come from examination of specimens from similar outbreaks.  This approach has recently been taken by scientists at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna to trace the origin of the virus that caused a sudden decrease in the number of blackbirds in Vienna in 2001. The results are published in the current issue of the journal "Emerging Infectious Diseases."

Ed Rybicki's insight:

Molecular forensic virology: love it.  Now, if only I could get my hands on archived Maize streak virus-infected maize from the early 1900s....

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