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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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Biodiversity: So much more than legs and leaves

Biodiversity: So much more than legs and leaves | Virology News | Scoop.it

Microorganisms inhabit virtually every possible niche on Earth, including those at the outer envelope of survival. However, the focus of most conservation authorities and ecologists is the 'legs and leaves' side of biology -the 'macrobiology' that can be seen with the naked eye. There is little apparent concern for the preservation of microbial diversity, or of unique microbial habitats. Here we show examples of the astounding microbial diversity supported by South Africa's ecosystems and argue that because microbes constitute the vast majority of our planet's species they should be considered seriously in the future protection of our genetic resources.

 

Ed Rybicki's insight:

In praise of small things B-)

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Ed Rybicki's curator insight, January 28, 2014 4:34 AM

This is our stab at getting South African science funders to take microbial diversity seriously.  I helped write it, obviously.  And it's Open Access!

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'Helix': One virologist's take. And it's not good.

'Helix': One virologist's take. And it's not good. | Virology News | Scoop.it
'Helix': One virologist's take ...
The Global Dispatch
The “virology” is a major fail and really pulls me out of any willing-suspension-of-disbelief I'm trying (hard) to get going.

Via Ian M Mackay, PhD
Ed Rybicki's insight:

Really good deconstruction of what sounds like a badly-premised series: pity people can't get the damn science right!

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A lot of pig virus news out there in Canada...

A lot of pig virus news out there in Canada... | Virology News | Scoop.it
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How to flip the switch on HIV-related cancer

How to flip the switch on HIV-related cancer | Virology News | Scoop.it
Researchers have identified a critical component in the virus that causes Kaposi's sarcoma, the most common cancer among people infected with HIV.

In this study, which appears in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS Pathogens, the team identified a cluster of viral microRNA molecules that are necessary to transform healthy cells into cancerous ones. When this microRNA cluster was suppressed, the cells died after they were infected with KSHV.

Flipping the switch and turning the cluster back “on,” however, allowed the cells to stay alive and become malignant when infected with the virus.

Using advanced genomic methods, the researchers also found that the microRNAs target the IκBα protein and the NF-κB cellular pathway, both of which are associated with cancer development.

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More on the unsavo[u]ry history of the vaccine-autism 'link'

More on the unsavo[u]ry history of the vaccine-autism 'link' | Virology News | Scoop.it
The old line about a lie traveling halfway around the world before the truth can get its boots on certainly applies to the supposed link between autism and the MMR (measles/mumps/rubella) vaccine -- in spades.
Ed Rybicki's insight:

"Parents doubting whether to inoculate their children against illnesses that threaten not only their childrens' health but that of the community need to know that their doubts are based on the work of quacks."

Viva!!

 

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GM purple tomatoes heading for shops

GM purple tomatoes heading for shops | Virology News | Scoop.it

The prospect of genetically modified purple tomatoes reaching the shelves has come a step closer.

Their dark pigment is intended to give tomatoes the same potential health benefits as fruit such as blueberries.

Developed in Britain, large-scale production is now under way in Canada with the first 1,200 litres of purple tomato juice ready for shipping.

The pigment, known as anthocyanin, is an antioxidant which studies on animals show could help fight cancer.

Scientists say the new tomatoes could improve the nutritional value of everything from ketchup to pizza topping.

The tomatoes were developed at the John Innes Centre in Norwich where Prof Cathie Martin hopes the first delivery of large quantities of juice will allow researchers to investigate its potential.

Ed Rybicki's insight:

Go GM!!  Nice to see SOMEONE in the UK still believes in GM crops - the anti-GM nutters in Europe have pretty much killed anything except "farmaceuticals" over there.

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Study links intimate partner violence, risk of HIV

Study links intimate partner violence, risk of HIV | Virology News | Scoop.it

Researchers from The Miriam Hospital and the University of Rochester have found a definitive link between violence among intimate partners and an increased risk of HIV infection. The study is online in the journal Women & Health.

Sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, are an important public health problem for women in the U.S. Each year, 27 percent of new HIV infections are in women, and heterosexual transmission accounts for 83 percent of those infections. A recent national study attributed 12 percent of HIV/AIDS infections among women to relationships involving intimate partner violence (IPV).

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TED talk: A needle-free vaccine patch that's safer and way cheaper

One hundred sixty years after the invention of the needle and syringe, we’re still using them to deliver vaccines; it’s time to evolve. Biomedical engineer Mark Kendall demos the Nanopatch, a one-centimeter-by-one-centimeter square vaccine that can be applied painlessly to the skin. He shows how this tiny piece of silicon can overcome four major shortcomings of the modern needle and syringe, at a fraction of the cost.

 
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Influenza can make you critically ill

Influenza can make you critically ill | Virology News | Scoop.it
We don't think of flu as a life-threatening illness in otherwise healthy young or middle age adults, yet it is.
Ed Rybicki's insight:

Don't screw with the flu...and H1N1pdm [aka swine flu] affects a disproportionate number of healthy young adults, compared to teh seasonal varieties that have been around a while.

Vaccinate!

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If The Immunity Project Crowdfunds This Synthetic AIDS Vaccine, They'll Offer It Free To Everyone

If The Immunity Project Crowdfunds This Synthetic AIDS Vaccine, They'll Offer It Free To Everyone | Virology News | Scoop.it
The Y Combinatorbacked project discovered how to mimic natural immunity to HIV. Now it's trying to raise $482000 in 30 days to prove it works.
Ed Rybicki's insight:

Viva, crowdfunding; viva!  Now - I've got this horse vaccine I want money for...B-)

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The rocky road to a better flu vaccine

The rocky road to a better flu vaccine | Virology News | Scoop.it
Currently approved flu vaccines are less effective in the elderly, yet an estimated 90 percent of influenza-related deaths occur in people over 65.

A paper published on January 23rd in PLOS Pathogens reports on the challenges scientists encountered when they were trying to develop a better flu vaccine.

Because immune systems in older people are generally less responsive to vaccination, Jay Evans and colleagues from GlaxoSmithKline Vaccines in Hamilton, USA, were testing so-called adjuvants -- vaccine components that provoke a stronger immune reaction -- that could be added to the regular flu vaccine cocktail to prompt even weaker immune systems to develop protective immunity against subsequent encounters with the flu virus.

 
Ed Rybicki's insight:

It's amazing: we've had flu vaccines since the 1940s - but we make them as if we were still there.  It's REALLY time this changed.

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HIV-Positive Student Filmed Sex Tapes With More Than 30 Partners

HIV-Positive Student Filmed Sex Tapes With More Than 30 Partners | Virology News | Scoop.it
READ MORE: KMOV.com (HIV-Positive Student Filmed Sex Tapes With More Than 30 Unknowing Partners | UB Rodriguez,... http://t.co/tG9DkYgoR4)
Ed Rybicki's insight:

Words fail one.

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Pile of Viruses

Pile of Viruses | Virology News | Scoop.it

What if every virus in the world were collected into one area? How much volume would they take up and what would they look like?

 
Ed Rybicki's insight:

Basically, a big pile of goo.  Virual goo.

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From one cell to many: How did multicellularity evolve?

From one cell to many: How did multicellularity evolve? | Virology News | Scoop.it
In the beginning there were single cells. Today, many millions of years later, most plants, animals, fungi, and algae are composed of multiple cells that work collaboratively as a single being.
Ed Rybicki's insight:

Nice, thought-provoking account.

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VDU's blog: "Virology Down Under"

VDU's blog: "Virology Down Under" | Virology News | Scoop.it
Ed Rybicki's insight:

I should point out, that's the OTHER under - we're also down here, Ian!!

A very good stop for virologists in general, and one I should have linked to long ago.

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The shape of infectious prions

The shape of infectious prions | Virology News | Scoop.it
Prions are unique infective agents -- unlike viruses, bacteria, fungi and other parasites, prions do not contain either DNA or RNA.

ions are unique infective agents -- unlike viruses, bacteria, fungi and Despite their seemingly simple structure, they can propagate their pathological effects like wildfire, by "infecting" normal proteins. PrPSc (the pathological form of the prion protein) can induce normal prion proteins (PrPC) to acquire the wrong conformation and convert into further disease-causing agents.

"When they are healthy, they look like tiny spheres; when they are malignant, they appear as cubes" stated Giuseppe Legname, principal investigator of the Prion Biology Laboratory at the Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzati (SISSA) in Trieste, when describing prion proteins.

Ed Rybicki's insight:

Nice piece of work!  These really are insidious things, these infectious proteins - and knowing more about how they are structured, and how they work to convert endogenous proteins into prions, is invaluable in sorting out how to combat them.

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Viral fib[re] art - Virology Blog

Viral fib[re] art - Virology Blog | Virology News | Scoop.it
Viruses inspire many different types of art, but I was unaware of the number of people who make viruses out of fiber!
Ed Rybicki's insight:

Infectable collectables.

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1918 Flu Pandemic That Killed 50 Million Originated in China?

1918 Flu Pandemic That Killed 50 Million Originated in China? | Virology News | Scoop.it
The worldwide flu pandemic that killed 50 million people in 1918 may have originated with transported Chinese laborers, archival records suggest.
Ed Rybicki's insight:

Another fascinating insight into medical history - hopefully, to be followed up by some molecular archeology on stored tissue samples.

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Deadly bird flu cases surging

Deadly bird flu cases surging | Virology News | Scoop.it

A surge in cases of the deadly new strain of bird flu has been reported in China at the beginning of 2014.

Only a handful of people had been infected with H7N9 since June, but health officials have reported 73 cases so far this month.

Influenza researchers argue the winter season and preparations for Chinese New Year may be driving the increase.

The World Health Organization called for vigilance, saying the virus was likely to remain present for some time.

H7N9 made the jump from infecting domestic chickens and ducks to infecting people at the end of March 2013.

Within a month, 126 cases and 24 deaths had been recorded.

The virus was stopped in its tracks as control measures, such as closing live poultry markets, were introduced.

Ed Rybicki's insight:

ANOTHER ticking bomb, to add to the threat of H5N1.  And the only thing we can do is change our / China's agricultural practices....

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HPV & Cervical Cancer: What You Should Know

HPV & Cervical Cancer: What You Should Know | Virology News | Scoop.it
HPV & Cervical Cancer: What You Should Know Hornell Evening Tribune When a woman's Pap smear—a test for detecting precancerous or cancerous cervical cells—is abnormal, and she is diagnosed with human papilloma virus (HPV), she may feel pretty...

 

Cervical cancer graphic from Russell Kighhtley Media

Ed Rybicki's insight:

As someone pointed out in another context altogether, I've been in this research area for 25-odd years - yet a 973-word story gets more press.  Ah, well: still trying to spread the gospel!

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Former Microsoft Executive Turned Marijuana Entrepreneur Should Put Plandai Biotechnology on the Map

Former Microsoft Executive Turned Marijuana Entrepreneur Should Put Plandai Biotechnology on the Map | Virology News | Scoop.it
Seattle is famous for its coffee and even more famous for Starbucks. That's the coffee chain no one ever imagined could blossom into a more than $50 billion business selling a cup of Joe. 

 Well, don't look now but the city may soon be home to another retail chain that stakes its future on a single product, but this time it's marijuana and one man is trying to make that a reality. Former Microsoft exec Jamen Shively has become quite a recognizable name in the marijuana debate, and his recognition may very well be Plandaí Biotechnology's (OTCQB: PLPL) gain.

Shively is no stranger to marijuana as the great-great grandson of Diego Pellicer, the former Vice Governor of the Philippine Island of Cebu and the largest grower of hemp in the world in the late 1800s. Diego Pellicer once supplied hemp rope to the Spanish Armada during the Spanish American War. 

The marijuana entrepreneur co-founded Diego Pellicer, Inc. to create the first retail brand of cannabis in the U.S. and eventually worldwide. Marijuana, both legal and black market, is a $100 billion a year industry in the U.S. alone, a number not lost on Shively, "It's a giant market in search of a brand. We would be happy if we get 40 percent of it worldwide."

 

Photo: Ed Rybicki, copyright 1976

Ed Rybicki's insight:

I do SO hope that they get Cheech and Chong as brand ambassadors - and "The Pope Smokes Dope" as their jingle?!

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Bee deaths may stem from plant virus

Bee deaths may stem from plant virus | Virology News | Scoop.it
The mysterious mass die-offs of honeybees have wiped out roughly a third of commercial colonies each year since 2006 

may be linked to a rapidly mutating virus that jumped from tobacco plants to soy plants to bees, according to a new study.

The research, reported Tuesday in the online version of the academic journal mBio, found that the increase in honeybee deaths that generally starts in autumn and peaks in winter was correlated with increasing infections by a variant of the tobacco ringspot virus.

Ed Rybicki's insight:

I am going - with Adrian Gibbs - to blog on this in detail over in ViroBlogy soon.

After I finish a grant proposal and go to a conference.

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Assessing the long term impact of HPV screening on cervical cancer detection

Assessing the long term impact of HPV screening on cervical cancer detection | Virology News | Scoop.it

Cervical cancer screening has helped to dramatically reduce the number of cases of - and mortality from - this disease. Now a study from the Karolinska Institutet suggests that testing for the human papilloma virus (HPV) could allow for a longer time between these screening tests, when compared to cell-based testing. 
The Swedish study - a long-term follow-up of a national randomised controlled trial, entitled Swedescreen - found that the protection of HPV-based screening after five years was about the same as for cytology (or cell)-based screening after three years. "This indicates that five-year screening intervals could be used with HPV-based screening, instead of the current three-year intervals," says Miriam Elfström from the institute's Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, and the first author of the study.

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Forget About HIV/AIDS. The clap can kill you quicker.

Forget About HIV/AIDS. The clap can kill you quicker. | Virology News | Scoop.it

So you are afraid of aids? Or you simply don't like using condoms. This new report will shock the life out of you. This will make you embark on a trip of no return to the great beyond within days. 

A new sexually transmitted super-bug has emerged and according to experts, may be more deadly that AIDS and could cause an epidemic.

According to reports, an antibiotic-resistant strain of gonorrhea is more aggressive than the HIVvirus, which means the potential to infect the public will be greater.

This strain of STD which is resistant to antibiotic, reportedly kills half of those exposed and infects one in 20 hospital patients thereby raising the threat of an outbreak to emergency levels. Alan Christianson, a doctor of naturopathic medicine, thinks this new strain has the power to rack up more fatalities than AIDS.

Ed Rybicki's insight:

A, B, C - D.  When in doubt, do it to yourself.  Sex with the one you love.  SO much safer than some of the alternatives.

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11,000-year-old living dog cancer reveals its origin, evolution

11,000-year-old living dog cancer reveals its origin, evolution | Virology News | Scoop.it
A cancer normally lives and dies with a person, however this is not the case with a sexually transmitted cancer in dogs.
Ed Rybicki's insight:

More than a little bit frightening: like that cancer in Monty Python's "And Now For Something Completely Different", this has taken on a life of its own - and has survived for more than 1100 generations!!

Life is an interesting thing - especially when it goes rogue.

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