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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Measles outbreak in Guinea threatens children

Measles outbreak in Guinea threatens children | Virology News | Scoop.it
At least one child has died since the outbreak began in November, with others vulnerable due to a lack of vaccinations.

An outbreak of measles is threatening the lives of children in Guinea, one of West Africa's poorest countries.

The UN children's agency UNICEF says one child has been confimed dead since the outbreak began in November, but the real number may be much higher.

A UN survey shows only 37 percent of children in Guinea get all the vaccines they need to stay healthy, making the majority vulnerable. Thirty-seven cases of measles have been confirmed in the capital Conakry.

 
Ed Rybicki's insight:

Makes one sad: kids in New York getting measles because their parents are too stupid to vaccinate them; kids in Guinea getting it because they're too poor.

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The co-pathogenesis of influenza viruses with bacteria in the lung

The co-pathogenesis of influenza viruses with bacteria in the lung | Virology News | Scoop.it

Concern that a highly pathogenic virus might cause the next influenza pandemic has spurred recent research into influenza and its complications. Bacterial superinfection in the lungs of people suffering from influenza is a key element that promotes severe disease and mortality. This co-pathogenesis is characterized by complex interactions between co-infecting pathogens and the host, leading to the disruption of physical barriers, dysregulation of immune responses and delays in a return to homeostasis. The net effect of this cascade can be the outgrowth of the pathogens, immune-mediated pathology and increased morbidity. In this Review, advances in our understanding of the underlying mechanisms are discussed, and the key questions that will drive the field forwards are articulated.

  

Ed Rybicki's insight:

Don't never forget the bacteria...a nasty team, bugs and flu viruses.

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The Impact of Missing Vaccines on Africa and Asia

The Impact of Missing Vaccines on Africa and Asia | Virology News | Scoop.it

Vaccines may have saved millions of people from disease and death, but there remains a number of key areas which lack vaccines. And nowhere is this clearer than in some of the world’s poorest regions. With vaccines not yet available for dengue fever, HIV or malaria, what impact is their continuing reign of terror having over Africa and the South East Asia Region (SEAR)?

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Viruses Reconsidered | The Scientist Magazine®

Viruses Reconsidered | The Scientist Magazine® | Virology News | Scoop.it
The discovery of more and more viruses of record-breaking size calls for a reclassification of life on Earth.
 

...with the advent of whole-genome sequencing, researchers are beginning to realize that most organisms are in fact chimeras containing genes from many different sources—eukaryotic, prokaryotic, and viral alike—leading us to rethink evolution, especially the extent of gene flow between the visible and microscopic worlds. Genomic analysis has, for example, suggested that eukaryotes are the result of ancient interactions between bacteria and archaea. In this context, viruses are becoming more widely recognized as shuttles of genetic material, with metagenomic studies suggesting that the billions of viruses on Earth harbor more genetic information than the rest of the living world combined. (See “Going Viral,” The Scientist, September 2013.) These studies point to viruses being at least as critical in the evolution of life as all the other organisms on Earth.

Ed Rybicki's insight:

I hate that graphic - it's inaccurate; the satellite viruses do not "infect" other virus particles - but otherwise this is a good and thoughtful article.

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TRSV or not TRSV, that is the question. In bees, obviously.

TRSV or not TRSV, that is the question. In bees, obviously. | Virology News | Scoop.it
I promised some time ago now to blog on the exciting topic of whether or not a plant virus is infecting honeybees - and here it is!  I was also contacted by the legendary Dr Adrian Gibbs about this...
Ed Rybicki's insight:

Artful literary deconstruction of what I still think is a good article - with a throw-in of stuff I thought had been published, but turns out only to have appeared in Carolyn Williamson's 1988 PhD thesis.  Consider this a publication!

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GM crops: European scientists descend on Africa to promote biotech

GM crops: European scientists descend on Africa to promote biotech | Virology News | Scoop.it

Africa is expected to be the next target of GM food companies, as European scientists and policymakers travel to Ethiopia to boost the prospect of growing more of the controversial crops on the continent.

Anne Glover, the chief scientific adviser to the European commission, and other prominent pro-GM researchers and policymakers from European countries including Germany, Hungary, Italy and Sweden will this week meet Ethiopian, Kenyan, Ghanaian and Nigerian farm ministers as well as officials from the African Union.

Ed Rybicki's insight:

And that'll go down REALLY well: European governments and policymakers pushing GM crops in Africa, when their own people don't want them?  

Whether those reasons are stupid or not, and whether or not it is a good idea to plant GM in Africa, I can see a knee-jerk anti-Europe response could well work to completely screw up just what it is they are trying to do.

Consider: Zimbabwe and Zambia resolutely oppose even the import of GM maize as FOOD, let alone allowing the planting of it.  Africans have a history of being VERY suspicious of outsiders bearing gifts - because there is a history of dumping stuff in Africa, of everything from suspect pharmaceuticals to excess chickens.

I predict a lead balloon result for this conference and for the initiative.  Time for Europe to listen to the Kenyans, Burkinabe and South Africans about the merits of growing GM - and not the other way around!

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Small molecules stop Human papillomavirus assembling

Small molecules stop Human papillomavirus assembling | Virology News | Scoop.it
Pillarene molecule binds to exposed amino acids on pathogen protein

Researchers in China have disrupted the life cycle of the leading cause of cervical cancer – the human papilloma virus – using a macrocyclic molecule called a pillarene. The team hope their findings will offer new prophylactic avenues against the virus.

Ed Rybicki's insight:

Great stuff!  And regular readers will realise that this is the second chemotherapeutic agent demonstrated to work against HPV in a short while recently - the other being an antiretroviral agent.

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German football stadium disinfected because of virus

Berlin (Alliance News) - Parts of the stadium belonging to Greuther Fuerth, the German second division team, have been disinfected following the outbreak of a suspected norovirus.

The training centre has also been disinfected and team training has been cancelled. On the advice of the local health department, the club's office has been closed.
Ed Rybicki's insight:

Crappy sort of thing to happen...B-)

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Plant virus research may lead to thrips control

Plant virus research may lead to thrips control | Virology News | Scoop.it
Capital Press Washington State University virus genomics professor Hanu Pappu says information learned about the tomato spotted wilt virus will benefit researchers battle a number of related virus, including the iris yellow spot virus affecting onions in the PNW. Pappu is studying the relationship between the virus and its carrier, the insect pest thrips, which helps the virus spread and multiply. Researchers are working to develop a vaccine to eventually create resistant crops.
Ed Rybicki's insight:

Always nice to see people I know doing good things: I co-published a paper in 1993 with Hanu and others on a general potyvirus cDNA PCR detection method; good to see he's still active in plant virology.

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H1N1 virus reaches epidemic levels in the US

H1N1 virus reaches epidemic levels in the US | Virology News | Scoop.it

Six weeks into the flu season, the H1N1 virus is still killing young adults and middle-aged Americans at epidemic levels, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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South Africa unable to produce foot-and-mouth disease virus vaccine

South Africa unable to produce foot-and-mouth disease virus vaccine | Virology News | Scoop.it
Outbreak of foot and mouth disease four years ago largely due to collapse of state’s ability to manufacture vaccines

THE outbreak of foot and mouth disease four years ago, which cost South Africa R4bn a year in lost exports, was largely due to the collapse of the state’s ability to manufacture vaccines.

Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson told a press briefing on Wednesday on the lifting the ban of red meat exports by the World Animal Health Organisation (WAHO). The removal of the boycott will not affect red meat producers significantly as South Africa usually imports the product to satisfy domestic demand. Only about 1% of red meat production, mainly venison, is exported. Other animal exports include hides and wool.

Ed Rybicki's insight:

This is actually horrifying, in the context of what is SUPPOSED to be Africa's most developed economy - and especially its most developed agricultural economy.

Really: it is a fact not much appreciated outside of the agricultural sector, that we have to get our FMDV vaccines from BOTSWANA.

That's right - the country with the largest economy in Africa gets its FMDV vaccines from the Botswana Veterinary Institute, a factory set up by the French in a country with a total population about a quarter of that of Greater Johannesburg.

So, let us get this straight: the country that owns the Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute, where the legendary Sir Arnold Theiler pioneered virus and other vaccines from the 1890s on, cannot make its own FMDV vaccines any more?

The country that USED to make a whole range of animal vaccines via the state-owned facility that is now Onderstepoort Biological Products, is now struggling to make just a few?

The country that once built a state-of-the-art BSL4 facility dedicated to FMDV now cannot operate it, or even make old-style killed vaccines?

Don't let me get started on human vaccines, because we now don't make ANY - but the erosion of our capacity to make vaccines means our ability to look after human and animal health is now severely under threat.

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Not Swine Flu [in 1918]

Not Swine Flu [in 1918] | Virology News | Scoop.it
The strain of influenza that caused the 1918 pandemic probably came from birds, a study shows.
Ed Rybicki's insight:

Ummm...Jeffrey Taubenberger and others showed that pretty conclusively already, I thought??  No harm in backing it up, though!

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Explainer: What is a Virus?

Explainer: What is a Virus? | Virology News | Scoop.it

It may seem like a fairly fundamental question, but there is still debate over whether viruses should be considered a form of life. 

Ed Rybicki's insight:

NOT. But otherwise quite a good piece.

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Ebola alert grips Guinea and Sierra Leone

Ebola alert grips Guinea and Sierra Leone | Virology News | Scoop.it
Highly contagious virus kills 59 people in Guinea, with fears the disease may have spread to neighbouring Sierra Leone.

Ebola has killed at least 59 people in Guinea and there are fears the virus may have spread to neighbouring Sierra Leone, world health officials have said.

Cases of the disease, which can kill 90 percent of those infected, have been registered in three southeastern towns and in the Guinean capital, Conakry, since Februrary 9. They are the first recorded cases in the country.

"It is indeed Ebola fever. A laboratory in Lyon, France, confirmed the information," Damantang Albert Camara, a government spokesman, told the Reuters news agency.

Ed Rybicki's insight:

38 years on, it continues to pop out of the bush - due almost certainly to the "bush meat" trade.  So it goes when you mess with nature....

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Past, present and future of influenza viruses

Past, present and future of influenza viruses | Virology News | Scoop.it

Influenza viruses are genetically diverse owing to high mutation rates, frequent reassortment among genomic segments and their tendency to jump between hosts. Three studies describe new modelling approaches to analyse and predict influenza virus evolution and also shed light on the origin and spread of currently circulating viruses.

 
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This Old PI....

This Old PI.... | Virology News | Scoop.it
Ed Rybicki's insight:
I blame Chris Upton
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PNAS | Mobile

PNAS | Mobile | Virology News | Scoop.it

RNA interference (RNAi) is a powerful approach for elucidating gene functions in a variety of organisms, including phytopathogenic fungi. In such fungi, RNAi has been induced by expressing hairpin RNAs delivered through plasmids, sequences integrated in fungal or plant genomes, or by RNAi generated in planta by a plant virus infection. All these approaches have some drawbacks ranging from instability of hairpin constructs in fungal cells to difficulties in preparing and handling transgenic plants to silence homologous sequences in fungi grown on these plants.

Here we show that RNAi can be expressed in the phytopathogenic fungus Colletotrichum acutatum (strain C71) by virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS) without a plant intermediate, but by using the direct infection of a recombinant virus vector based on the plant virus, tobacco mosaic virus (TMV). We provide evidence that a wild-type isolate of TMV is able to enter C71 cells grown in liquid medium, replicate, and persist therein. With a similar approach, a recombinant TMV vector carrying a gene for the ectopic expression of the green fluorescent protein (GFP) induced the stable silencing of the GFP in the C. acutatumtransformant line 10 expressing GFP derived from C71.

The TMV-based vector also enabled C. acutatum to transiently express exogenous GFP up to six subcultures and for at least 2 mo after infection, without the need to develop transformation technology. With these characteristics, we anticipate this approach will find wider application as a tool in functional genomics of filamentous fungi.

 

TMV graphic from Russell Kightley Media

 
Ed Rybicki's insight:

This is a nice paper for two main reasons: one, they were able to get VIGS - virus-induced gene silencing - working in a non-model fungus; two, they did it with TMV.

TMV! A plant virus in good standing, not previously shown to infect fungi productively, even if it has been studied in yeast as far as replication requirements go.

This is very interesting, not the least because it opens up the possibility that TMV NATURALLY infects some soil / leaf surface fungi.

Which could open up some investigation of just how the virus gets around, because it has always been touted as being only "mechanically" transmissible - even though we and others have shown it CAN be transmitted by aphids (reasonably inefficiently).

Mind you, Barbara von Wechmar and others in our lab showed in the 1980s that wheat stem and leaf rust fungi could transmit Brome mosaic virus; they just did not have the techniques to look at whether or not it replicated too.

As far as my last post here is concerned, I think there is going to be a LOT of stuff coming out in the next few years on how "plant" and "insect" and "fungal" viruses are in fact considerably more promiscuous in choice of host(s) than we have hitherto been aware.

Now, just to prove what Barbara always said, that Tobacco necrosis virus is also a bacteriophage....

Thanks to Gary Foster (@Prof_GD_Foster) for pointing this out! 

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The common cold virus uses a unique ‘switch’ during lung infection

The common cold virus uses a unique ‘switch’ during lung infection | Virology News | Scoop.it
Ed Rybicki's insight:

VERY nice graphics to explain it all.

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Rare 'polio-like' disease reports

Rare 'polio-like' disease reports | Virology News | Scoop.it

US doctors are warning of an emerging polio-like disease in California where up to 20 people have been infected.

A meeting of the American Academy of Neurology heard that some patients had developed paralysis in all four limbs, which had not improved with treatment.

The US is polio-free, but related viruses can also attack the nervous system leading to paralysis.

Doctors say they do not expect an epidemic of the polio-like virus and that the infection remains rare.

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Mechanism of dengue virus entry into cells

Mechanism of dengue virus entry into cells | Virology News | Scoop.it

WASHINGTON D.C. Feb. 17, 2014 -- Dengue fever, an infectious tropical disease caused by a mosquito-borne virus, afflicts millions of people each year, causing fever, headache, muscle and joint pains and a characteristic skin rash. In some people the disease progresses to a severe, often fatal, form known as dengue hemorrhagic fever. 

Now, new research ... to be presented at the 58th Annual Biophysical Society Meeting, which takes place in San Francisco from Feb. 15-19, could offer vital insight into the mechanism of dengue virus entry into cells -- and aid vaccine and clinical drug development.

Ed Rybicki's insight:

And lead to world peace and cold fusion. Obviously. But seriously, an exciting new development.

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Rutgers Scientists Identify Structure Of Virus That Could Lead To Hepatitis C Vaccine

Rutgers Scientists Identify Structure Of Virus That Could Lead To Hepatitis C Vaccine | Virology News | Scoop.it
Rutgers University scientists have determined the structure of a hepatitis C surface protein, a finding that could assist in the development of a vaccine to halt the spread of the the deadly disease that has infected 3.2 million Americans.

 

HCV graphic by Russell Kightley Media

Ed Rybicki's insight:

...and a hell of a lot more NON-Americans, but who's quibbling.

I just find it amusing that EVERY structural paper on a virus protein "will assist in the development of a vaccine".  If that were true, we'd have no problem with HIV, herpesviruses....

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Flu Season Hitting Young Adults Harder Than Usual [in US]

Flu Season Hitting Young Adults Harder Than Usual [in US] | Virology News | Scoop.it
This flu season was particularly hard on young adults.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that individuals between the ages of 18 and 64 made up 61 percent of all flu-related hospitalizations this year, a PR Newswire news release reported. Last season this age group made up only about 35 percent of influenza hospitalizations. 

"Flu hospitalizations and deaths in people younger- and middle-aged adults is a sad and difficult reminder that flu can be serious for anyone, not just the very young and old; and that everyone should be vaccinated," CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H, said in the news release. "The good news is that this season's vaccine is doing its job, protecting people across all age groups."

Ed Rybicki's insight:

...which is a hallmark of H1N1pdm 2009: just as it was for the 1918 flu.

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Managed honeybees linked to new diseases in wild bees

Managed honeybees linked to new diseases in wild bees | Virology News | Scoop.it
Diseases that are common in managed honeybee colonies are now widespread in the UK's wild bumblebees, according to new research. The study suggests that some diseases are being driven into wild bumblebee populations from managed honeybees.
Ed Rybicki's insight:

Farm ANYTHING intensively and you get disease problems.  But it's a bigger problem if it affects wild species too.

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A dual color Southern blot to visualize two genomes or genic regions simultaneously

A dual color Southern blot to visualize two genomes or genic regions simultaneously | Virology News | Scoop.it

This report describes the development of a novel dual color Southern protocol to visualize two distinct genomes or genic regions simultaneously on a single Southern blot. The blot is developed with IRDye-conjugated antibody (Ab) and streptavidin that recognize digoxigenin (Dig)- or biotin-labeled probes, respectively and visualized on an infrared imager. This protocol was validated by visualizing viral and host genomes of human cytomegalovirus (HCMV)-infected human fibroblasts. This technique utilizes extremely sensitive fluorescent imaging, allowing the detection of nanogram quantities of DNA, as opposed to microgram quantities needed in Southerns using radioactively labeled probes, and eliminates the inherent loss in signal after stripping and reprobing a Southern blot. The probes are labeled with non-radioactive Dig and biotin and can be stored for extended periods of time. This protocol will aid in studies of any system with two genomes, such as cells infected with numerous types of microorganisms (virus/parasites/bacteria), or studies of mitochondrial and nuclear DNA within the same cells.

 

DNA graphic courtesy of Russell Kightley Media

Ed Rybicki's insight:

I'm always a sucker for a good method.

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The brain guards itself against virus attacks

The brain guards itself against virus attacks | Virology News | Scoop.it

LONDON: The olfactory mucosa in the nose can serve as a conduit for a number of viruses to enter the brain including rabies, polio and influenza viruses. Infections in the central nervous system are rare thanks to our brain’s unique defence system that prevents viruses from invading, finds a study. The research explains a long-standing mystery.

The olfactory mucosa in the nose can serve as a conduit for a number of viruses to enter the brain including rabies, polio and influenza viruses. Yet infections in the central nervous system rarely occur.

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