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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Three ways viruses have changed science for the better

Three ways viruses have changed science for the better | Virology News | Scoop.it
A virus is nature's efficient little killer. It can invade a cell, take over its inner machinery, trick it into making more virus DNA and escape with a new posse of virus children (often killing the host in the process). They're really good at what they do, and we've been able to harness their skills to learn about – and potentially improve – human health in several ways.
Ed Rybicki's insight:

Oh, I can add a lot more - but I have a book that does that...B-)  http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1001627125

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Scientists can watch HIV spread through a mouse in real time

Scientists can watch HIV spread through a mouse in real time | Virology News | Scoop.it
This could lead to better treatments and possibly stave off initial infection
Ed Rybicki's insight:

Sigh...always, better treatments and vaccines...meantime, it's just unbelievably cool B-)

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Scientists Identify Two Genes that ‘Shut Down’ HIV-1 Virus | Medicine

Scientists Identify Two Genes that ‘Shut Down’ HIV-1 Virus | Medicine | Virology News | Scoop.it
An international group of researchers has identified genes that disable HIV-1, suggesting a new strategy for battling the virus that causes AIDS.
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Yeast Can Now Produce THC, Marijuana's Infamous Compound

Yeast Can Now Produce THC, Marijuana's Infamous Compound | Virology News | Scoop.it
We know yeast from its work with bread and beer, but now the microorganism is being engineered to produce therapeutic chemicals, such as those in marijuana.
Ed Rybicki's insight:

Hey, brew that weed, man...B-)

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Vaccine Science Diplomacy and Islamic State

Vaccine Science Diplomacy and Islamic State | Virology News | Scoop.it
War and the ensuing health system breakdowns in the Islamic State (IS)–occupied Syria and Iraq significantly increase the risk of a new wave of infectious disease epidemics in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Proactive engagement to enable health system capacity and resilience—including expanding immunization programs and building biotechnology capacity for vaccines that specifically target diseases in the region—would help minimize the impact if and when outbreaks occur. A program of vaccine science diplomacy with selected countries in the MENA region could help to avert an international public health crisis possibly similar in scope and magnitude to the 2014 Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa.
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A new star rising: Biology and mortuary behaviour of Homo naledi

September 2015 saw the release of two papers detailing the taxonomy1 , and geological and taphonomic2 context of a newly identified hominin species, Homo naledi – naledi meaning ‘star’ in Sesotho. Whilst the naming and description of a new part of our ancestral lineage has not been an especially rare event in recent years,3-7 the presentation of Homo naledi to the world is unique for two reasons. Firstly, the skeletal biology, which presents a complex mixture of primitive and derived traits, and, crucially, for which almost every part of the skeleton is represented – a first for an early hominin species. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, this taxon provides evidence for ritualistic complex behaviour, involving the deliberate disposal of the dead. 

Ed Rybicki's insight:

An Open Access commentary on Homo naledi.

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Russian scientist admits injecting himself with 3.5 million year old 'eternal life' bacteria

Russian scientist admits injecting himself with 3.5 million year old 'eternal life' bacteria | Virology News | Scoop.it
The result? He has avoided flu for two years, and works harder with renewed energy.
Ed Rybicki's insight:

Dipstick.  That's all I have to say.

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Immunizing Pregnant Women Protects Infants From Respiratory Virus

Immunizing Pregnant Women Protects Infants From Respiratory Virus | Virology News | Scoop.it
Novavax Inc said data from a mid-stage study showed that immunizing pregnant women with its RSV vaccine was safe for fetuses and could protect infants against the common respiratory virus.
The Maryland-based biotechnology company, whose stock jumped about 8.5 percent in...
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Viruses are living things that share common ancestry with cells

Viruses are living things that share common ancestry with cells | Virology News | Scoop.it
A new paper disputes the notion that viruses are not alive and suggests that all modern viruses and cells may share common ancestry
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Disease risks lie in ancient poo? Not really.

Disease risks lie in ancient poo? Not really. | Virology News | Scoop.it
Defrosting ancient poo could reintroduce some age-old bugs to the modern world, scientists say.

Defrosting ancient poo could reintroduce some age-old bugs to the modern world, scientists say.

An extremely infectious and deadly ancient virus, released from a frozen slumber by warming climates, could play havoc with immune systems that have no experience of such germs.

A team of international biologists, including the University of Canterbury's Arvind Varsani, has proven that such an incident is theoretically possible, after they resurrected an ancient virus from the 700-year-old frozen droppings of Canadian caribou.

With a little reconstruction, the DNA virus, christened the "caribou faeces-associated virus", has gone on to infect modern-day plants, according to a paper published yesterday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

Varsani said the team had proved ancient viruses were as worthwhile to study as today's versions - as both may make up tomorrow's germs

Ed Rybicki's insight:

Arvind Varsani, again! He's everywhere B-)

...and some scientists pooh-pooh such statements [sorry!], because - as with the Giant Killer Viruses From Tundra! sensationalism, there is NO proof that (a) there are myriad killer viruses in permafrost, (b) very little proof that they will infect anything outside of a lab.

Seriously: the French team that found pitho- and molliviruses had to use lab-cultured amoebae to resurrect them; Arvind and crew had to make agroinfectious partially dimeric clones of their virus and inject them into lab plants to make them infectious.

And there'll be precious little of that going in in clearings in the tundra.

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Mexican scientist creates sensor to detect HPV instantly

Mexican scientist creates sensor to detect HPV instantly | Virology News | Scoop.it

Marlen Ortiz Hernandez, University of Zacatecas in central Mexico, created a sensor to detect patients the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) which can cause cervical cancer.

This enabled device for measuring blood glucose levels to determine whether a patient is possible carrier of HPV, it was developed by Hernandez as part of a program of Unesco.

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Obama Dedicates $300,000,000 to Fight HIV Infections in Young Women in Africa

Obama Dedicates $300,000,000 to Fight HIV Infections in Young Women in Africa | Virology News | Scoop.it
The Obama administration hopes to dramatically reduce HIV infections in girls and young woman in 10 sub-Saharan African nations.
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Nobel Prize honors pioneers of antiparasitic therapy

Nobel Prize honors pioneers of antiparasitic therapy | Virology News | Scoop.it
Award goes to fight against malaria, river blindness, and elephantiasis
Ed Rybicki's insight:

Great, some developing world-relevant Nobels at last!

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Global Virus Network: Measles infection growing in U.S.

Global Virus Network: Measles infection growing in U.S. | Virology News | Scoop.it
Measles has not been an epidemic in the United States since the beginning of the twenty-first century, but the Global Virus Network (GVN) warned of a startling rise in cases detected in the first eight months of 2013.
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Pig virus probably carried into U.S. from China via tote bags

Pig virus probably carried into U.S. from China via tote bags | Virology News | Scoop.it
A virus that killed more than 8 million baby pigs in 2013 and 2014 nearly matches the DNA of a virus found in China and was likely carried into the United States on reusable tote bags — the same bags used to carry pet treats such as chicken jerky and pig ears.
Ed Rybicki's insight:

Internationalisation is the problem here - and specifically the lack of compatible standards.

And it'll happen again, and again, and again...with pig, avian and cattle viruses.

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Ebola and Its Global Research Architecture—Need for an Improvement

Ebola and Its Global Research Architecture—Need for an Improvement | Virology News | Scoop.it
The current Ebola outbreak poses a threat to individual and global public health. Although the disease has been of interest to the scientific community since 1976, an effective vaccination approach is still lacking. This fact questions past global public health strategies, which have not foreseen the possible impact of this infectious disease. To quantify the global research activity in this field, a scientometric investigation was conducted. We analyzed the research output of countries, individual institutions and their collaborative networks. The resulting research architecture indicated that American and European countries played a leading role regarding output activity, citations and multi- and bilateral cooperations. When related to population numbers, African countries, which usually do not dominate the global research in other medical fields, were among the most prolific nations. We conclude that the field of Ebola research is constantly progressing, and the research landscape is influenced by economical and infrastructural factors as well as historical relations between countries and outbreak events.
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Was William Shakespeare a stoner?

Was William Shakespeare a stoner? | Virology News | Scoop.it
Scientists find evidence of cannabis in tobacco pipes dug up in legendary playwright's garden.
Ed Rybicki's insight:

I knew Francis Thackeray, from the Evolutionary Studies Institute at Wits, when we were both in University residence in 1974.  He was a serious sort of chap even then, but with a playful side - and he encouraged me in my writing of an account of how the Taung Child fossil skeleton may have come to be (https://edrybicki.wordpress.com/2015/08/24/tragedys-children/).  So I am quite happy to believe that Old Bill may have puffed the sacred herb B-)  And nice that it got published in SA Journal of Science, of all places!

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Siberian virus, 'asleep' for 30,000 years, could cure rare eye disease, says expert

Siberian virus, 'asleep' for 30,000 years, could cure rare eye disease, says expert | Virology News | Scoop.it
Found in a frozen prehistoric squirrel's nest, scientists make intriguing discovery.
Ed Rybicki's insight:

Yah. Sure. Dig something up out of the tundra and use it to kill amoebae causing an eye disease.  Why not use viruses isolated from the present? Oh - because they probably won't work, and may in fact be implicated in human disease.  Just like this one might be.

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Viral load testing improves HIV treatment in Uganda

Viral load testing improves HIV treatment in Uganda | Virology News | Scoop.it

The ministry of Health has centralized viral load testing, a technique which measures precisely the amount of virus per milliliter in a patient’s blood.

The test, conducted with the aid of Samba II machines, is to ensure that those on antiretroviral therapy (ART) achieve and maintain undetectable levels of HIV in their blood. 

Unlike the CD4 test which is currently in use for monitoring patients’ immunity, viral load (VL) testing accurately calculates the amount of virus in one’s blood, allowing a health practitioner to detect right away how well antiretroviral treatment is working. The first VL is taken six months from when one started ART and consequently after a year.

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'A kiss almost killed my baby'

'A kiss almost killed my baby' | Virology News | Scoop.it
Mum whose daughter was hospitalised after contracting herpes virus warns about the dangers of letting people touch newborns.
Ed Rybicki's insight:

I remember warning people off kissing my children with the threat of physical violence, I took this so seriously.  Don't kiss other people's babies!!

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Is an ancient virus responsible for some cases of ALS?

Is an ancient virus responsible for some cases of ALS? | Virology News | Scoop.it

A virus that long ago spliced itself into the human genome may play a role in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the deadly muscle degenerative disease that crippled baseball great Lou Gehrig and ultimately took his life [and incidentally, what the more famous Steven Hawking suffers from. And Joost van der Westhuizen]. That’s the controversial conclusion of a new study, which finds elevated levels of human endogenous retrovirus K (HERV-K) in the brains of 11 people who died from the disease.

“This certainly is interesting and provocative work,” says Raymond Roos, a neurologist at the University of Chicago in Illinois who treats and studies ALS but who was not involved with the finding. Still, even the scientists behind the work caution that more research is needed to confirm the link. “I’m very careful to say HERV-K doesn’t cause the disease but may play a role in the pathophysiology,” says study leader Avindra Nath, a neuroimmunologist at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke in Bethesda, Maryland. “The darn thing is in the chromosomes to begin with. It’s going to be very hard to prove causation.”

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Humans inadvertently spread banana virus

A study into a major banana disease virus is investigating whether humans inadvertently spread banana bunchy top virus.

Research leader Arvind Varsani from the University of Canterbury analysed viral genes to map the historical and current distribution of different virus strains and found that the Indian subcontinent was a major hub of long-distance BBTV movements.

The data revealed the virus jumped from the Indian subcontinent to Africa twice — first to sub-Saharan Africa between 1825 and 1934, and then to Egypt between 1929 and 1936. It also moved into the Pacific region twice — to Australia between 1843 and 1974, and Tonga between 1735 and 1882.

These results show the virus has not been spread rapidly by human movements across the globe, but has moved long distances gradually through infrequent dispersal events over the past 1000 years.

Within regions, however, evidence points to shorter- ­distance virus movements over the past 100 years.

Ed Rybicki's insight:

Arvind: he's literally everywhere B-)

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Vaccines With and Without Thimerosal Are Not Linked to Autism, New Study Reaffirms

Vaccines With and Without Thimerosal Are Not Linked to Autism, New Study Reaffirms | Virology News | Scoop.it
Multiple vaccines containing the preservative thimerosal, administered to macaque monkeys on the schedule that pediatricians followed in the 1990s, resulted in none of the key brain or behavioral changes linked to autism, a new study shows.
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