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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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First direct evidence of HPV-related tonsillar cancer on the rise in Canada

First direct evidence of HPV-related tonsillar cancer on the rise in Canada | Virology News | Scoop.it

American and European research shows an alarming increase in the rate of tonsillar cancer related to the human papilloma virus (HPV), a sexually transmitted virus. Experts suggest a similar trend has emerged in Canada, but it had yet to be confirmed through scientific analysis. In a new study published in Current Oncology, a group of researchers from Lawson Health Research Institute and Western University have produced evidence confirming this epidemic.

Orophararyngeal cancer impacts part of the throat, including the tonsils and the base of the tongue. Historically, these types of throat cancers were caused by smoking and alcohol use, but recent studies show that HPV is now a major cause. When an individual contracts HPV, the virus's DNA can infiltrate healthy cells and induce cancer years later.

Ed Rybicki's insight:

Vaccinate...!

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Scientists Find Cannabis Compound Stops Metastasis In Aggressive Cancers

Scientists Find Cannabis Compound Stops Metastasis In Aggressive Cancers | Virology News | Scoop.it
A pair of scientists at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco has found that a compound derived from marijuana could stop metastasis in many kinds of aggressive cancer, potentially altering the fatality of the disease forever.
Ed Rybicki's insight:

I can just see the Cheech & Chong adaptations: "Hey, man - this weed's a cancer-killer, man...."

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South Africa 'turns corner' on HIV/AIDS, but still has a long way to go

South Africa 'turns corner' on HIV/AIDS, but still has a long way to go | Virology News | Scoop.it
JOHANNESBURG – As more than 2 million South Africans are now taking antiretroviral medications, many are optimistic that the country is on the verge of declaring victory against HIV/AIDS.
Ed Rybicki's insight:

Victory?  With 6-odd million people still infected??  I don't think so!

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Polio vaccine campaign goes nationwide - Jerusalem Post

Polio vaccine campaign goes nationwide - Jerusalem Post | Virology News | Scoop.it
Haaretz Polio vaccine campaign goes nationwide Jerusalem Post The Health Ministry decided over the weekend to offer oral polio vaccine to children up to the age of nine-and-a-halfyears starting on August 18 – and not to confine the current...
Ed Rybicki's insight:

This is what happens when religious zealots in OTHER countries - and cynical politicians - stop polio vaccinators from doing their job.

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Virus Hunter: Pandemic Panic! (part 1 of 6)

Virus Hunter: Pandemic Panic! (part 1 of 6) | Virology News | Scoop.it
Ed Rybicki's insight:

Nice little cartoon series on hunting the "CC13" virus.  I enjoyed it, anyway!

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Africa’s green revolution could be championed by Biotechnology

Africa’s green revolution could be championed by Biotechnology | Virology News | Scoop.it

Africa missed the Green Revolution, which helped Asia and Latin America achieve self-sufficiency in food production, missed the Industrial Revolution, but Africa cannot afford to miss another major global ‘technological revolution’, which can help boost our agricultural sector.

Ed Rybicki's insight:

Amen!

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Gretel Posadas's curator insight, August 12, 2013 10:25 AM

Recent development in #biotechnology, especially genetic engineering, has made it possible for the inclusion of desired traits in staple foods that are common to the average #Africans. The introduction of #vitamin fortified #Sorghum and #Maruca-Resistant Cowpea are expected to assist farmers to improve on productivity as well as on income and their health conditions.

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Viral taxonomy needs a spring clean; its exploration era is over

The International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses has recently changed its approved definition of a viral species, and also discontinued work on its database of virus descriptions. These events indicate that the exploration era of viral taxonomy has ended; over the past century the principles of viral taxonomy have been established, the tools for phylogenetic inference invented, and the ultimate discriminatory data required for taxonomy, namely gene sequences, are now readily available. Further changes would make viral taxonomy more informative. First, the status of a 'taxonomic species' with an italicized name should only be given to viruses that are specifically linked with a single 'type genomic sequence' like those in the NCBI Reference Sequence Database. Secondly all approved taxa should be predominately monophyletic, and uninformative higher taxa disendorsed. These are 'quality assurance' measures and would improve the value of viral nomenclature to its users. The ICTV should also promote the use of a public database, such as Wikipedia, to replace the ICTV database as a store of the primary metadata of individual viruses, and should publish abstracts of the ICTV Reports in that database, so that they are 'Open Access'.

 
Ed Rybicki's insight:

From one of the Grand Old men of Virology, and of viral taxonomy.  Makes a lot of sense....

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New GMO Rice Protects Against Rotavirus Infection

New GMO Rice Protects Against Rotavirus Infection | Virology News | Scoop.it

For children and immune-compromised adults in developing countries, diarrheal disease induced by rotavirus can be life threatening.

Rotavirus is the leading cause of diarrhea in infants and young children worldwide, causing more than 114 million episodes of diarrhea annually in children under the age of 5, 80% of which occur in developing countries. More than 600,000 children die annually from rotavirus (RV) infection


Current rotaviral vaccines are highly effective in the Western world, but are not as effective in developing countries. Additionally, these vaccines are not appropriate for use outside of a very narrow age window or in immune compromised individuals. 

In the Journal of Clinical Investigation Yoshikazu Yuki and colleagues at the University of Tokyo report the development of a strain of rice that produces a rotavirus-specific antibody. Both normal and immune deficient mice fed the engineered rice were protected against rotavirus.  Their transgenic rice expresses the neutralizing variable domain of a rotavirus-specific llama heavy-chain antibody fragment (MucoRice-ARP1). 

Ed Rybicki's insight:

Bravo!  It's Going Green, of course.  Thanks Chris and @mem_somerville for the heads-up!

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eva gil's curator insight, October 17, 2013 8:04 AM

Rotavirus is the leading cause of diarrhea in infants which occur in developing countries. This is an example of transgenic products can be  a solution for some problems, not all transgenic are dangerous.

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Preliminary Malaria Vaccine Trial a Success - sort of

Preliminary Malaria Vaccine Trial a Success - sort of | Virology News | Scoop.it

A vaccine made from weakened malaria parasites appeared to protect participants in a small clinical trial from malaria infection, according to a study published yesterday (August 8) in Science.

“Scientists and health care providers have made significant gains in characterizing, treating, and preventing malaria,” said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), in a press release. “We are encouraged by this important step forward.”

Rockville, Maryland-based biotech Sanaria made the vaccine by irradiating parasite-infected mosquitoes, harvesting weakened parasites from the mosquitoes’ salivary glands, and cryopreserving them.

Ed Rybicki's insight:

Ye-esssss...and harvesting whole parasites from the salivary glands of irradiated insects is a viable, scalable process for making vaccines for hundreds of millions of people?  Don't think so!

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HIV and the potential collapse of the Malaysian fishing industry

HIV and the potential collapse of the Malaysian fishing industry | Virology News | Scoop.it
Astro Awani In Focus: HIV and the potential collapse of the Malaysian fishing industry Astro Awani KUALA LUMPUR: Standing amongst a dozen of drug addicts in a filthy, bloodstained and almost dilapidated wooden shack, nothing quite prepared me for...
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More HIV moms choose breastfeeding - Independent Online

More HIV moms choose breastfeeding - Independent Online | Virology News | Scoop.it
Independent Online More HIV moms choose breastfeeding Independent Online Cape Town - More HIV-positive mothers in the Western Cape are opting for breast-feeding over formula feeding as the government intensifies its campaign for women to...
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Brazilian scientists to test AIDS vaccine on monkeys

Brazilian scientists to test AIDS vaccine on monkeys | Virology News | Scoop.it
The vaccine against HIV was developed and patented by a team from the Medicine Faculty of the University of Sao Paulo (Brazilian scientists to test AIDS vaccine on monkeys http://t.co/FCtlVxqAwm)...
Ed Rybicki's insight:

We also used to have an HIV vaccine development programme.  Once.  Now all we have is stuff in freezers and expired clinical lots.  Shame, that.

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Clinton Foundation | Up Close: Turning the Tide on HIV and AIDS in South Africa

Clinton Foundation | Up Close: Turning the Tide on HIV and AIDS in South Africa | Virology News | Scoop.it
Ten years ago I was working in the National Department of Health (NDOH) HIV and AIDS program, when then-President Mbeki met with President Clinton and asked for the assistance of the Clinton Foundation in combatting the country's HIV and AIDS crisis.
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Scientists develop method that ensures safe research on deadly flu viruses

Scientists develop method that ensures safe research on deadly flu viruses | Virology News | Scoop.it
The strategy will enable healthy molecules in human lung cells to latch on to these viruses and cut the bugs up before they have a chance to infect the human host.
Ed Rybicki's insight:

Excellent idea: engineer in sequences that allow naturally-occurring miRNA sequences in the human, but not the ferret lung, to snip the viral DNA so that it cannot cause a problem.

HOWEVER: do you suppose they have considered what happens when the engineered influenza virus, were it to go wild, mutates so as to avoid getting the snip?

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"Stomach flu" [aka viral gastroenteritis]: Everything you need to know

"Stomach flu" [aka viral gastroenteritis]: Everything you need to know | Virology News | Scoop.it
Stomach flu is an extremely common disease, affecting tens of millions of Americans every year. How can you know if you are suffering from one? Read on to learn all the essential information.
Ed Rybicki's insight:

And it obviously affects more than just Americans - but a useful compilation of information for layfolk

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Don't worry about bird flu - well, not yet - Sun-Sentinel

Don't worry about bird flu - well, not yet - Sun-Sentinel | Virology News | Scoop.it

 It's far from comforting to hear that, according to a new study, the new H7N9 strain of bird flu has been passed from person to person for the first time. The finding has sparked some scary headlines. "First study of human transmission of new bird flu raises worries," Reuters reports. "Chinese bird flu may be spreading between people," adds the Guardian. But before you buy surgical masks in bulk and retreat to your sanitized basement evacuation shelter, consider that the authors of the scientific study, published this week in the British Medical Journal, went out of their way to point out that the finding is not cause for too much alarm . . . yet.

Ed Rybicki's insight:

Yet...I am still watching, and waiting....

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Jonas Salk - polio vaccine pioneer

Jonas Edward Salk (October 28, 1914 – June 23, 1995) was an American medical researcher and virologist, best known for his discovery and development of the first successful polio vaccine. He was born in New York City to Jewish parents. Although they had little formal education, his parents were determined to see their children succeed. While attending New York University School of Medicine, Salk stood out from his peers not just because of his academic prowess, but because he went into medical research instead of becoming a practicing physician.

Until 1955, when the Salk vaccine was introduced, polio was considered the most frightening public health problem of the post-war United States. Annual epidemics were increasingly devastating. The 1952 epidemic was the worst outbreak in the nation's history. Of nearly 58,000 cases reported that year, 3,145 people died and 21,269 were left with mild to disabling paralysis,[1] with most of its victims being children. The "public reaction was to a plague," said historian Bill O'Neal.[citation needed] "Citizens of urban areas were to be terrified every summer when this frightful visitor returned." According to a 2009 PBS documentary, "Apart from the atomic bomb, America's greatest fear was polio."[2] As a result, scientists were in a frantic race to find a way to prevent or cure the disease. U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt was the world's most recognized victim of the disease and founded the organization, the March of Dimes Foundation, that would fund the development of a vaccine.

In 1947, Salk accepted an appointment to the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. In 1948, he undertook a project funded by the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis to determine the number of different types of polio virus. Salk saw an opportunity to extend this project towards developing a vaccine against polio, and, together with the skilled research team he assembled, devoted himself to this work for the next seven years. The field trial set up to test the Salk vaccine was, according to O'Neill, "the most elaborate program of its kind in history, involving 20,000 physicians and public health officers, 64,000 school personnel, and 220,000 volunteers." Over 1,800,000 school children took part in the trial.[3] When news of the vaccine's success was made public on April 12, 1955, Salk was hailed as a "miracle worker," and the day "almost became a national holiday." His sole focus had been to develop a safe and effective vaccine as rapidly as possible, with no interest in personal profit. When he was asked in a televised interview who owned the patent to the vaccine, Salk replied: "There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?"[4]

Ed Rybicki's insight:

Nice Wikipedia entry on an important pioneer of the modern vacine era.

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What you need to know about getting vaccinated for shingles

What you need to know about getting vaccinated for shingles | Virology News | Scoop.it
What you need to know about getting vaccinated for shingles Las Vegas Review-Journal Dear Afraid: Older adults who get the shingles vaccine can cut their risk of getting the painful condition in half; those that do get shingles are likely to have a...
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Nature Biotechnology analysis lashes French politicians for feeding anti-biotech fever

Nature Biotechnology analysis lashes French politicians for feeding anti-biotech fever | Virology News | Scoop.it

In March 2012, the French government issued an emergency ban on a GM strain of corn “to protect the environment. Fifteen months later, no evidence has been presented to justify the ban.  And in a searing study in the June issue of Nature Biotechnology, released this week, crop biotechnology experts from three major French public research institutions lambasted their former government, and those of six other European governments for grossly falsifying scientific data to “justify” what they believe was a politically-motivated ban on genetically engineered crops and foods. 

See more at: http://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/2013/06/12/nature-biotechnology-analysis-lashes-french-politicians-for-feeding-anti-biotech-fever/#sthash.ZXHFEFuo.baK9yQpE.dpuf

Ed Rybicki's insight:

It is a matter of continuing mystery to me why a country that has prided itself on rationality and its science for centuries, should be so anti-science in this regard.  Unfortunately, this sort of attitude manifests itself in all sorts of things throughout the European Community these days, with completely outdated policies on vaccination of meat-bearing animals destined for import, and so on.

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Why bacteria ditch nose to go cause trouble

Why bacteria ditch nose to go cause trouble | Virology News | Scoop.it

The bacteria harmlessly colonize the mucous linings of throats and noses in most people, only becoming virulent when they leave those comfortable surroundings and enter the middle ears, lungs, or bloodstream.

“We were asking, what is the mechanism behind what makes us sick?” explains Anders P. Hakansson, assistant professor of microbiology and immunology in the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

Read the original study

“We are looking to find ways to interfere with the transition to disease. Few have looked at the specific mechanism that suddenly makes these bacteria leave the nose where they typically prefer to reside and travel into the lungs or the middle ear where they cause disease. If we can understand that process, then maybe we can block it.”

Ed Rybicki's insight:

Makes sense - disturb the environment by disrupting cells on which bacteria have established a non-harmful biofilm, and the bacteria get active and go looking for new places to survive.  Aggressively!

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[H7N9] Bird Flu Experiments Proposed

[H7N9] Bird Flu Experiments Proposed | Virology News | Scoop.it

A group of 22 prominent influenza researchers have today (August 7) published a letter in both Natureand Science, stressing the need for a new wave of controversial studies on the H7N9 bird flu virus—so-called “gain-of-function” experiments that deliberately engineer mutant viruses to identify mutations that would make naturally occurring strains more transmissible or virulent in mammals.

This subtype of flu had no history of infecting humans until three cases were reported in China this March. Since then, H7N9 has infected at least 133 people and killed 43. Warmer summer weather and the recent closure of the country’s live bird markets have helped to contain the outbreak, but as colder months approach, researchers fear that the virus could re-emerge.

 
Ed Rybicki's insight:

Seriously, if work is not done on this rather nasty virus - especially in view of potential human-to-human transmission, recently noted in Virology News - in parallel with similar work on H5N1, the scientific community will be missing the opportinity to make real headway in understanding how it is that influenza A viruses become more transmissible and virulent in humans.

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cutesqualid's comment, August 12, 2013 4:42 AM
good
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Patenting viruses doesn't restrict research--it gives an incentive to do more research.

Patenting viruses doesn't restrict research--it gives an incentive to do more research. | Virology News | Scoop.it

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that people can’t patent isolated human genes, which it considers a product of nature, but they can patent something exceptionally similar: cDNA, a synthesized copy from which someone has removed the noncoding parts. Given that fine line, it’s not entirely clear how the decision will play out in practice or how it will affect work on nonhuman genes. But it’s a hot area of debate.

Earlier this year, Dutch scientists received a patent from their country on the newly discovered MERS virus that killed at least 30 people. The researchers had isolated the virus in their laboratory from a sample sent by a Saudi doctor. The Saudi Ministry of Health protested that the patent would restrict research and lead to more deaths; the World Health Organization (WHO) said it would investigate the legality and take action. But they’ve got it backward. Patents are one of the best tools for quickly fighting disease.

Ed Rybicki's insight:

Definitely!  I hate to say it out loud, in this era of "openness", but if you DON'T patent things sometimes, you may well have messed up the use of it for ever - because no-one commercial will touch anything that isn't protected / protectable.

Which means that funky new vaccine you just published on without protecting it will be forever "an interesting paper", but never a product.

The NIH labs, for example, patent everything novel that passes through - because then they have a say in how it is commercialised, and can stop it being blocked by some company that wants to keep its own proprietary product current for that much longer.

Our lab has quite a big patent portfolio, for example: we have something like 14 patent families, and over 60 individual country patents, which gives us a reasonable stock-in-trade when it comes to licencing things to companies.  It has also given us leverage in getting money to work on new / improved versions of vaccines, for example, which has helped keep the lab afloat for a goodly number of years now!

We also negotiated rights to licencing / commercialisation for certain things, such as guarantees for low pricing for South Africa and Africa, keeping all rights for Africa and sharing rights elsewhere, and so on.

So they can be a tool for good, as well as all the other things they are accused of being!

 

Thanks, Arvind Varsani, for alerting me to this.

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Ugandan activists call for early action on barriers for generic HIV drugs

Ugandan activists call for early action on barriers for generic HIV drugs | Virology News | Scoop.it
Ugandan activists call for early action on barriers for generic HIV drugs Africa Science News Service Human rights organisations warn that action must start now to protect the lives of thousands of Ugandans on HIV treatment, who stand to suffer...
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A new home-based HPV test is launched in SA - Sowetan

A new home-based HPV test is launched in SA - Sowetan | Virology News | Scoop.it
A new home-based HPV test is launched in SA
Sowetan
A new cervical cancer screening test looks set to revolutionise the way in which women are tested for this disease.
Ed Rybicki's insight:

Anything to drop the incidence!  The problem in SA is that women often don't go back to clinics to get their results - especially in rural areas.  This means that progression to Ca cervix can go unnoticed until it is too late.

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