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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West Nile's Long-Term Death Toll May Be Higher Than Thought

West Nile's Long-Term Death Toll May Be Higher Than Thought | Virology News | Scoop.it
Texas study estimates mortality rate from the mosquito-borne disease at 13 percent
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Quest to map Africa’s soil microbiome begins

Quest to map Africa’s soil microbiome begins | Virology News | Scoop.it
Sub-Saharan project could one day help ecosystems to resist climate change and improve agriculture.
Ed Rybicki's insight:
Go Don Cowan et al....!
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'Serial' flu shots may limit body's ability to fight virus in future

'Serial' flu shots may limit body's ability to fight virus in future | Virology News | Scoop.it
Although doctors maintain that flu shots are life-savers that everyone should receive, some researchers are uncovering hints that 'serial vaccination' -- that is, consistently receiving annual flu shots -- may in fact limit one's ability to fight...
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CDC approves the two-dose HPV vaccine, instead of three

CDC approves the two-dose HPV vaccine, instead of three | Virology News | Scoop.it
In a move that could boost HPV vaccination rates, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday said younger adolescents need only two doses of the vaccine, rather than three as previously recommended.
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Has a new mutation in the Ebola virus made it deadlier?

Has a new mutation in the Ebola virus made it deadlier? | Virology News | Scoop.it
Two new studies raise the possibility that an adaptation to humans speeded up transmission
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Whoops...
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A novel porcine circovirus is associated with porcine dermatitis and nephropathy syndrome 

J Virol. 2016 Oct 26. pii: JVI.01879-16. [Epub ahead of print]
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'Lab in a suitcase' set to improve Ebola virus control

'Lab in a suitcase' set to improve Ebola virus control | Virology News | Scoop.it
Scientists working in the field who need to diagnose Ebola face challenging conditions. They have to send samples to labs far away, hope they get there safely, and then wait days for results.
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Genetic fossil-hunters dig through HIV’s long history for clues to treatments

Genetic fossil-hunters dig through HIV’s long history for clues to treatments | Virology News | Scoop.it
Paleovirology studies how viruses and their hosts have evolved together for millions of years, which could provide clues to fighting them.
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Phylogeny of Geminivirus Coat Proteins and Digital PCR Aid Identification of a Vector of Grapevine red blotch

Phylogeny of Geminivirus Coat Proteins and Digital PCR Aid Identification of a Vector of Grapevine red blotch | Virology News | Scoop.it

Grapevine red blotch-associated virus (GRBaV) is a single-stranded DNA virus, proposed to be a member of the family Geminiviridae, and is associated with grapevines showing red blotch symptoms in North America. The existence of the virus was reported in 2012, and subsequently detected in grapevines in major grape production regions. We investigated if a vector exists that can transmit GRBaV in vineyards. Phylogenetic analysis of the predicted amino acid sequence of coat protein (CP) of GRBaV with the CP of 23 geminiviruses representing all seven genera of the family Geminiviridae revealed that GRBaV-CP was most similar to that of Tomato pseudo-curly top virus, a geminivirus known to be transmitted by a treehopper (Membracidae), a family that is closely related to leafhoppers (Cicadellidae). To identify vectors of GRBaV, hemipteran species within and nearby wine grape vineyards where virus spread was suspected were collected and transmission assays were conducted. Among the species tested, the three-cornered alfalfa hopper Spissistilus festinus (Hemiptera: Membracidae) was able to both acquire the virus from a grapevine infected with GRBaV and transmit the virus to healthy grapevines in the laboratory. In commercial vineyards, lateral shoots of grapevines girdled due to feeding injury by the adult three-cornered alfalfa hopper also tested positive for the virus using digital PCR. These findings represent an important step in understanding the biology of GRBaV and develop management guidelines.


Geminivirus graphic by Russell Kightley Media

Ed Rybicki's insight:
Really good use of technology I am SOOOO familiar with - having started doing PCR on geminiviruses back in 1989 or so. Smart integration of information! Thanks to Gary Foster for pointing this out.
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Researchers Uncover Genetic Variations Responsible for Tumor Virus in Horses

Researchers Uncover Genetic Variations Responsible for Tumor Virus in Horses | Virology News | Scoop.it
At Cornell University’s Baker Institute for Animal Health, groundbreaking horse health research is not surprising but standard. Such is the tone with which Prof. Doug Antczak ’69, animal science, refers to various scientific feats that have emerged from the 66-year-old facility, although the professor mentions the endeavors of his predecessors before his own work. Regardless, […]
Ed Rybicki's insight:
Hah!  I remember Cornell fondly. Mainly for the climbing and the beer - but also the virology B-)
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Why Does This Virus Have Spider DNA?

Why Does This Virus Have Spider DNA? | Virology News | Scoop.it
How did part of a black-widow venom gene end up in a virus that infects one of the world's most successful bacteria?
Ed Rybicki's insight:
What can I say: viruses - the original genetic engineers B-)
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Towards next generation maggot debridement therapy: transgenic Lucilia sericata larvae that produce and secrete a human growth factor

Towards next generation maggot debridement therapy: transgenic Lucilia sericata larvae that produce and secrete a human growth factor | Virology News | Scoop.it
Diabetes and its concurrent complications impact a significant proportion of the population of the US and create a large financial burden on the American health care system. FDA-approved maggot debridement therapy (MDT), the application of sterile laboratory-reared Lucilia sericata (green bottle fly) larvae to wounds, is a cost-effective and successful treatment for diabetic foot ulcers and other medical conditions. Human platelet derived growth factor-BB (PDGF-BB) is a secreted dimeric peptide growth factor that binds the PDGF receptor. PDGF-BB stimulates cell proliferation and survival, promotes wound healing, and has been investigated as a possible topical treatment for non-healing wounds. Genetic engineering has allowed for expression and secretion of human growth factors and other proteins in transgenic insects. Here, we present a novel concept in MDT technology that combines the established benefits of MDT with the power of genetic engineering to promote healing. The focus of this study is to create and characterize strains of transgenic L. sericata that express and secrete PDGF-BB at detectable levels in adult hemolymph, whole larval lysate, and maggot excretions/ secretions (ES), with potential for clinical utility in wound healing. We have engineered and confirmed transgene insertion in several strains of L. sericata that express human PDGF-BB. Using a heat-inducible promoter to control the pdgf-b gene, pdgf-b mRNA was detected via semi-quantitative PCR upon heat shock. PDGF-BB protein was also detectable in larval lysates and adult hemolymph but not larval ES. An alternative, tetracycline-repressible pdgf-b system mediated expression of pdgf-b mRNA when maggots were raised on diet that lacked tetracycline. Further, PDGF-BB protein was readily detected in whole larval lysate as well as larval ES. Here we show robust, inducible expression and production of human PDGF-BB protein from two conditional expression systems in transgenic L. sericata larvae. The tetracycline-repressible system appears to be the most promising as PDGF-BB protein was detectable in larval ES following induction. Our system could potentially be used to deliver a variety of growth factors and anti-microbial peptides to the wound environment with the aim of enhancing wound healing, thereby improving patient outcome in a cost-effective manner.
Ed Rybicki's insight:
Now THAT'S cool! Using a VERY old technique, modernised with maggots that make a HGF!
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Scientists Are Building an HIV Vaccine From the Molecule Up

Scientists Are Building an HIV Vaccine From the Molecule Up | Virology News | Scoop.it

New technology is changing the way vaccines get made, and HIV researchers are leading the way.


AN HIV DIAGNOSIS is a nightmare, but it is no longer a death sentence. Someday, vaccines might bat the virus out of your system without you ever knowing you’d been exposed. If successful, such a vaccine would effectively cure AIDS. Someday, maybe. So scientists are working on it. Like yesterday: Researchers published results to a promising study on primates infected with SIV, a monkey version of HIV. The study, published in Nature, used a special drug to awaken the virus, which made it easier for their novel vaccine to detect and snuff it out. This study is part of a new wave of HIV-focused vaccinology powered by troves of genetic data and atomic-scale engineering.

Ed Rybicki's insight:
Although, and although...there is NO vaccine that has ever been made this way previously; there is literally NO good model to guide the work - although there is an inordinate amount of hand-waving and invoking of structures.

I am cynical about this approach, to be honest: I think it is a damn good excuse for a lot of people to spend a LOT of money doing good molecular biology - but not actually furthering vaccinology a lot. I think there may be simpler things to do, things to do better that have already shown faint promise - because that, historically, is how vaccines have been arrived at.

Trial and error, people, trial and error - and there is NO substitute for clinical trials.
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FDA Approves Clinical Trials to Test Cuban Cancer Vaccine 

FDA Approves Clinical Trials to Test Cuban Cancer Vaccine  | Virology News | Scoop.it
An early-stage study of the effectiveness of a lung-cancer vaccine developed by scientists in Cuba could start as early as next month.
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New Lancet figures show vaccine could save 600,000 women's lives from cervical cancer

New Lancet figures show vaccine could save 600,000 women's lives from cervical cancer | Virology News | Scoop.it
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FAO Report Promotes Biotechnology as Key Tool in Facing Climate Change

FAO Report Promotes Biotechnology as Key Tool in Facing Climate Change | Virology News | Scoop.it
FAO Report Promotes Biotechnology as Key Tool in Facing Climate Change: The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) released its annual report on The State of Food and Agriculture focusing on impact...
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Ebola was just the beginning. A big epidemic is coming and the world must be ready

Ebola was just the beginning. A big epidemic is coming and the world must be ready | Virology News | Scoop.it
Peter Piot spoke at WIRED2016 to explain how we can prepare for the next big virus outbreak
Ed Rybicki's insight:
There is always a Big One coming. And there always will be.
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Fiocruz Joins Sanofi-Walter Reed Zika Vaccine Collaboration 

Fiocruz Joins Sanofi-Walter Reed Zika Vaccine Collaboration  | Virology News | Scoop.it
The collaboration builds on one launched over the summer by Sanofi Pasteur and the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research
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Scientists uncover why Hepatitis C virus vaccine has been difficult to make

Scientists uncover why Hepatitis C virus vaccine has been difficult to make | Virology News | Scoop.it
Researchers have been trying for decades to develop a vaccine against the globally endemic hepatitis C virus (HCV).
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Nano-decoy lures human influenza A virus to its doom

Nano-decoy lures human influenza A virus to its doom | Virology News | Scoop.it
To infect its victims, influenza A heads for the lungs, where it latches onto sialic acid on the surface of cells.
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Selection Pressure in the Human Adenovirus Fiber Knob Drives Cell Specificity in Epidemic Keratoconjunctivitis

Selection Pressure in the Human Adenovirus Fiber Knob Drives Cell Specificity in Epidemic Keratoconjunctivitis | Virology News | Scoop.it
Human adenoviruses (HAdVs) contain seven species (HAdV-A to -G), each associated with specific disease conditions. Among these, HAdV-D includes those viruses associated with epidemic keratoconjunctivitis (EKC), a severe ocular surface infection. The reasons for corneal tropism for some but not all HAdV-Ds are not known. The fiber protein is a major capsid protein; its C-terminal “knob” mediates binding with host cell receptors to facilitate subsequent viral entry. In a comprehensive phylogenetic analysis of HAdV-D capsid genes, fiber knob gene sequences of HAdV-D types associated with EKC formed a unique clade. By proteotyping analysis, EKC virus-associated fiber knobs were uniquely shared. Comparative structural modeling showed no distinct variations in fiber knobs of EKC types but did show variation among HAdV-Ds in a region overlapping with the known CD46 binding site in HAdV-B. We also found signature amino acid positions that distinguish EKC from non-EKC types, and by in vitro studies we showed that corneal epithelial cell tropism can be predicted by the presence of a lysine or alanine at residue 240. This same amino acid residue in EKC viruses shows evidence for positive selection, suggesting that evolutionary pressure enhances fitness in corneal infection, and may be a molecular determinant in EKC pathogenesis.

Ed Rybicki's insight:
Couldn't resist B-)
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More than 400 people infected with mumps in Arkansas

More than 400 people infected with mumps in Arkansas | Virology News | Scoop.it
Cities and towns across the state have recorded at least 427 recent cases. Most of the patients are children, with more than 30 schools reporting numerous infections.
Ed Rybicki's insight:
Hey, seeing as I'm in the US...
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Clinical development of gene therapy: results and lessons from recent successes

Clinical development of gene therapy: results and lessons from recent successes | Virology News | Scoop.it
Therapeutic gene transfer holds the promise of providing lasting therapies and even cures for diseases that were previously untreatable or for which only temporary or suboptimal treatments were available. For some time, clinical gene therapy was characterized by some impressive but rare examples of successes and also several setbacks. However, effective and long-lasting treatments are now being reported from gene therapy trials at an increasing pace. Positive outcomes have been documented for a wide range of genetic diseases (including hematological, immunological, ocular, and neurodegenerative and metabolic disorders) and several types of cancer. Examples include restoration of vision in blind patients, eradication of blood cancers for which all other treatments had failed, correction of hemoglobinopathies and coagulation factor deficiencies, and restoration of the immune system in children born with primary immune deficiency. To date, about 2,000 clinical trials for various diseases have occurred or are in progress, and many more are in the pipeline. Multiple clinical studies reported successful treatments of pediatric patients. Design of gene therapy vectors and their clinical development are advancing rapidly. This article reviews some of the major successes in clinical gene therapy of recent years.

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