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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Rounding Up The Last Of A Deadly Cattle Virus

Rounding Up The Last Of A Deadly Cattle Virus | Virology News | Scoop.it
Rinderpest, or cattle plague, was declared eradicated in 2011. But many research institutes still have samples of the rinderpest virus in storage. Disease experts want those samples destroyed.
Ed Rybicki's insight:

I have written a lot about rinderpest, and covered it in my book on virus history, as well as covering the debate on whether or not smallpox virus stocks should be eliminated.

And if they haven't yet, despite years of debate, why should rinderpest virus stocks?

Consider: we have an effective vaccine(s); we still have the related peste des petites ruminants virus knocking around, with vaccines to it - so why shouldn't stocks of the live virus strains be preserved?

How many viruses have in fact made it out of fridges, and back into the world?  Well, there was that purported 1977 H1N1 release in Russia/Mongolia...but can anyone think of another well-documented one?  Just one?

The fact is that it is FAR easier to deliberately spread endemic viruses around - like foot-and-mouth disease virus - than it would be to reactivate and spread something from a lab freezer.

Rather let us conduct an inventory of who has what, consolidate it like they did with smallpox, and forget about the unknowable, which is obscure freezers in far-flung rural centres where no-one remembers what is there - and where powercuts have probably thawed the samples more than once.

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Icy volcanoes may dot Pluto's surface

Icy volcanoes may dot Pluto's surface | Virology News | Scoop.it
New Horizons mission spots a pair of mountains with deep pits at their centres.
Ed Rybicki's insight:

"Floating down, the sound resounds 
Around the icy waters underground."

Pink Floyd had it right: all the little worldlets got liquid water...and obviously viruses as well.

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10 Deadly Diseases That Hopped Across Species

10 Deadly Diseases That Hopped Across Species | Virology News | Scoop.it
A host of infectious and deadly diseases have hopped from animals to humans, and the other way.
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Be afraid of the pouched rat. Be very afraid.

Be afraid of the pouched rat.  Be very afraid. | Virology News | Scoop.it
Author Summary Monkeypox virus is a close relative of Variola virus , the agent of smallpox, and causes a similar disease in humans, with classic pox skin lesions. Up to 10% mortality has been associated with some strains of monkeypox. Monkeypox disease occurs in central and west Africa. It is transmitted to humans from wild animals, but the reservoir species that maintains this virus in nature has not been identified. The Gambian pouched rat ( Cricetomys gambianus ) was implicated as a po
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All that you need to know about Respiratory Syncytial Virus

All that you need to know about Respiratory Syncytial Virus | Virology News | Scoop.it
All that you need to know about Respiratory Syncytial Virus
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After 40 years, the first complete picture of a key flu virus machine

After 40 years, the first complete picture of a key flu virus machine | Virology News | Scoop.it
If you planned to sabotage a factory, a recon trip through the premises would probably be much more useful than just peeping in at the windows. Scientists looking to understand - and potentially thwart - the influenza virus have now gone from a similar window-based view to the full factory tour, thanks to the first complete structure of one of the flu virus' key machines. The structure, obtained by scientists at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Grenoble, France, allows researc
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Viruses don't deserve their bad rap: they're the unsung heroes you never see

Viruses don't deserve their bad rap: they're the unsung heroes you never see | Virology News | Scoop.it
The word "virus" strikes terror into the hearts of most people. But most viruses are actually vital to our very existence.
Ed Rybicki's insight:

OK, I must admit I used his platform to advertise MY TEDx talk, but hey, he started it...B-)

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Kenyan Camels Test Positive For Virus That Causes MERS

A new study has found that nearly half of camels in parts of Kenya have been infected by the virus that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and calls for further research into the role they might play in the transmission of this emerging disease to humans.

MERS was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012 and there is currently no vaccine or specific treatment available. To date, it has infected 1,595 people in more than 20 countries and caused 571 deaths. Although the majority of human cases of MERS have been attributed to human-to-human infections, camels are likely to be a major reservoir host for the virus and an animal source of MERS infection in humans.

Ed Rybicki's insight:

So why don't Kenyans get MERS?  Or maybe they do - and no-one's noticed?

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Common virus powers muscular dystrophy treatment

Common virus powers muscular dystrophy treatment | Virology News | Scoop.it
After cures in dogs, researchers ready to begin human trials
Ed Rybicki's insight:

BUT WHICH VIRUS???

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Blocking Ebola virus budding by regulating calcium signaling

Blocking Ebola virus budding by regulating calcium signaling | Virology News | Scoop.it
The Ebola virus acts fast. The course of infection, from exposure to recovery, or death, can take as little as two weeks. That may not leave enough time for the immune system to mount an effective response.
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Herpes Virus 1 Infects Two-Thirds of Population

Herpes Virus 1 Infects Two-Thirds of Population | Virology News | Scoop.it
Herpes Virus Infects Two-Thirds of Population: WHO

Two-thirds of people worldwide -- 3.7 billion of those under age 50 -- have the virus that causes cold sores, according to the World Health Organization.

The herpes simplex 1 virus (HSV-1) can also cause sores on the genitals and the WHO said oral sex is becoming the main way the incurable virus is passed from person to person, NBC News reported.

"The global burden of HSV-1 infection is huge," WHO researchers wrote in the journal PLoS One. "An estimated 140 million people aged 15-49 years were calculated to have prevalent genital HSV-1 infection globally in 2012."

In the Americas, 49 percent of women (178 million) and 39 percent of men (142 million) have HSV-1, the lowest regional rate in the world, WHO said. The rates are 87 percent in Africa and nearly 60 percent in Southeast Asia, NBC News reported.

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Self-assembly and protective efficacy of infectious bursal disease virus-like particles

To improve the self-proteolytic processing of PP of IBDV, VP4 protease of IBDV were co-expressed with the PP in insect cells by single recombinant baculovirus containing the PP and VP4 protein genes. Simultaneous expression of PP and VP4 protease recombinant proteins resulted in increase in the yields of VP2 and VP3, thus possibly leading to the efficient formation of VLPs morphologically and antigenically similar to IBDV. In animal experiment, protective efficacy of our VLP vaccine was comparable to that of the commercial killed IBDV vaccine. In conclusion, IBD VLP vaccine in this study protects chickens from vvIBDV that is possibly comparable to commercial vaccines and possibly due to the presence of the additional VP4.
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Designing herpes viruses as oncolytics

Oncolytic herpes simplex virus (oHSV) was one of the first genetically-engineered oncolytic viruses. Because HSV is a natural human pathogen that can cause serious disease, it is incumbent that it can be genetically-engineered or significantly attenuated for safety. Here, we present a detailed explanation of the functions of HSV-1 genes frequently mutated to endow oncolytic activity. These genes are nonessential for growth in tissue culture cells but are important for growth in postmitotic cells, interfering with intrinsic antiviral and innate immune responses or causing pathology, functions dispensable for replication in cancer cells. Understanding the function of these genes leads to informed creation of new oHSVs with better therapeutic efficacy. Virus infection and replication can also be directed to cancer cells through tumor-selective receptor binding and transcriptional- or post-transcriptional miRNA-targeting, respectively. In addition to the direct effects of oHSV on infected cancer cells and tumors, oHSV can be “armed” with transgenes that are: reporters, to track virus replication and spread; cytotoxic, to kill uninfected tumor cells; immune modulatory, to stimulate antitumor immunity; or tumor microenvironment altering, to enhance virus spread or to inhibit tumor growth. In addition to HSV-1, other alphaherpesviruses are also discussed for their oncolytic activity.

 
 
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Engineered bat virus stirs debate over risky research 

Engineered bat virus stirs debate over risky research  | Virology News | Scoop.it
An experiment that created a hybrid version of a bat coronavirus — one related to the virus that causes SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) — has triggered renewed debate over whether engineering lab variants of viruses with possible pandemic potential is worth the risks.
Ed Rybicki's insight:

You know something?  I reiterate my stance on engineered flu viruses.  Which is that it is NOT known that these coronaviruses will have pandemic potential; that they ARE being worked with under stringent containment, and no other similar NATURAL virus has escaped in recent memory; they DO provide valuable information on what is needed for such viruses to infect humans.

Which is all good, right?!

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Knockout jab: two vaccines for the price of one

Knockout jab: two vaccines for the price of one | Virology News | Scoop.it
A vaccine that rarely makes the news is a big public-health success
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"Set your phages to stun"

"Set your phages to stun" | Virology News | Scoop.it
Engineered phage viruses show promise as targeted assassins - genetic manipulation might make it easier for them to gain regulatory approval

Many phage infect and replicate inside bacteria, killing them. This makes phages a possible alternative to antibiotics as resistance to these drugs grows. What’s more, most phages infect only one species or even a few strains within a species; antibiotics aren’t so selective.

But that specificity is a problem: it might not be clear which pathogenic bacterial strain is present in an infection, so a cocktail of several phages might be needed to guarantee effective treatment. Each may have to pass regulatory approval separately.

Timothy Lu and his colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology aim to get round this by making a single phage modifiable with bacteria-attacking machinery from other phages. In theory, that could reduce regulatory hold-ups.

 

E coli and lambda phage graphic by Russell Kightley Media

Ed Rybicki's insight:

Couldn't resist that byline - it's part of the article - so that I could get some mileage out of something mildly upsetting.

It's just that someone else has yet AGAIN had my good idea before I did.

There I was, reading about and blogging on bacteria co-opting phage tail assemblies as weapons against other phages, and dreaming up ways of using them creatively - and someone else had gone and done it.

That is, used an engineered phage genome and presumably head structure with a variety of tail assemblies (which determine the binding specificity) in order to target as many bacterial types as possible.

Very clever!  It's what may make phage therapy into a science instead of an art.

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Investigations of African Pouched Rats as a Potential Reservoir Host Species for Monkeypox Virus

Investigations of African Pouched Rats as a Potential Reservoir Host Species for Monkeypox Virus | Virology News | Scoop.it
Author Summary Post smallpox eradication, Monkeypox virus (MPXV) has emerged as the most important human health threat within the Orthopoxvirus genus. Sporadic outbreaks of monkeypox within Africa, concern over the potential of the virus to move outside of its natural range, as well as the increasing proportion of unvaccinated people now susceptible to MPXV (due to cessation of smallpox vaccination), makes it important to understand how the virus is transmitted to humans within Africa. Thus far the natural reservoir(s) of MXPV has eluded identification; however several rodent species including African pouched rats ( Cricetomys spp.) have been implicated as possible reservoirs. Cricetomys are often found living in close proximity to humans (and invading homes) and additionally serve as a food source within Africa. Therefore, it is important to utilize laboratory methods to examine the course of MPXV infection in Cricetomys and thus determine this rodent species’ competence as a host for the virus. We challenged eight animals with MPXV (4X10 4 pfu) and assessed clinical symptoms and molecular markers of disease. Our results show Cricetomys can be infected with MPXV and shed high loads of virus via multiple routes, supporting the hypothesis that they may be involved in the maintenance and transmission of the virus within Africa.
Ed Rybicki's insight:

So you know they import these things into the US as pets?  And they were linked to the only outbreak of the disease in the US?  Takes all kinds....

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28 deaths from West Nile virus confirmed in California so far in 2015

28 deaths from West Nile virus confirmed in California so far in 2015 | Virology News | Scoop.it
California health officials have reported 28 confirmed deaths so far this year from West Nile virus .
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Signs of dengue virus reservoir in China

Signs of dengue virus reservoir in China | Virology News | Scoop.it
Rather than being an import as previously thought, the virus appears endemic in a southern province, study finds.

A strain of the virus that causes dengue fever is likely to be endemic to southern China, a study has found, challenging widespread views that all the country’s dengue is imported.

In the study, published on 12 October in The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, two researchers analysed more than 2,000 geneticsequences of dengue viruses collected in the southeastern Chinese province of Guangdong, using data from GenBank, a US collection of publicly available DNA. Their results, the study says, indicate that the dengue 1 strain is native to the province.

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Cats versus viruses: Arms race goes back millennia

Cats versus viruses: Arms race goes back millennia | Virology News | Scoop.it
A special protein has been protecting cats from feline AIDS for at least 60,000 years, genetic analysis suggests.
Ed Rybicki's insight:

Ah, co-evolution: it's why chimps don't get sick from HIV infection, because they've been selected for survival for the last 100 000 years or so.  And now cats!  I can haz virus??

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Melinda Davidson's curator insight, August 21, 2016 4:59 PM

Interesting article on feline AIDS

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Drug from bananas may fight flu virus - Futurity

Drug from bananas may fight flu virus - Futurity | Virology News | Scoop.it
Bananas contain a substance that, when changed slightly by scientists, shows promise to fight a wide range of viruses, including the flu.

The new research focuses on a protein called banana lectin, or BanLec, that “reads” the sugars on the outside of both viruses and cells. Five years ago, scientists showed it could keep the virus that causes AIDS from getting into cells—but it also caused side effects that limited its potential use.

Now, in a new paper published in the journal Cell, an international team of scientists reports how they created a new form of BanLec that still fights viruses in mice, but doesn’t have a property that causes irritation and unwanted inflammation.

They succeeded in peeling apart these two functions by carefully studying the molecule in many ways, and pinpointing the tiny part that triggered side effects. Then, they engineered a new version of BanLec, called H84T, by slightly changing the gene that acts as the instruction manual for building it.

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Rashes Often Associated with Viruses in Children

Rashes Often Associated with Viruses in Children | Virology News | Scoop.it

Sniffles, stomach bugs, fever and sore throats are often associated with viruses, but rashes are common in children with viral infections as well. Rashes can be itchy and painful for kids and difficult for parents trying to determine if they are a symptom of something serious or just an everyday annoyance.

“Causes of rashes vary immensely and it can be difficult for parents to know if they should be concerned. Rashes can be caused by anything from an allergic reaction to viral illness to something more serious,” says Heidi Renner, MD, pediatrician at Loyola Medicine and assistant professor in the departments of medicine and pediatrics at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. “Most childhood rashes are no cause for concern, but it’s always best to talk to your pediatrician.”

According to Renner, most childhood rashes will resolve by themselves or can be easily treated. Still, rashes can be a symptom of another illness or virus and a child should be seen by a doctor.

Some common viruses that may cause a rash are:
• roseola
• chicken pox
• measles

 
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The FDA Just Approved One Cancer-Killing Virus. Expect More

The FDA Just Approved One Cancer-Killing Virus. Expect More | Virology News | Scoop.it
This week, the FDA approved the skin cancer treatment Imlygic to a whole lot of buzz.

BY THE NUMBERS, the newest FDA-approved treatment for skin cancer doesn’t seem a real game changer. A $65,000 course of treatment extends melanoma patients’ lives by less than four and a half months, on average—and that result is barely statistically significant.

It’s how the new drug—Imlygic, made by the biotechnology company Amgen—works that has the oncology world so worked up. Imlygic is a virus—alive and infectious, the first to get a stamp of approval in the US for its ability to attack cancer cells. It opens a whole new front in the fight against cancer, which has the sneaky habit of coming back after chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery. “It is a totally new class of weapons that we can now use,” says Antonio Chiocca, a neurosurgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. And the armory could be bigger, because coming up right behind Imlygic are over a dozen clinical trials for more anti-cancer viruses.

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NASA takes the next step in the search for life on Europa

NASA takes the next step in the search for life on Europa | Virology News | Scoop.it
All systems are go for a launch in the 2020's.
Ed Rybicki's insight:

And where there's life, there's viruses - of course B-)

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Preparing for the Next Epidemic with Basic Virology

Preparing for the Next Epidemic with Basic Virology | Virology News | Scoop.it

In my career, I have found that obtaining fundamental insights into how one virus “works” enables the study of other viruses, which ultimately has allowed my group to investigate basic principles of viral pathogenesis and host immune restriction. A running joke among members of my laboratory is that I have never met a virus I did not like, and the more exotic the name, the more excited I am. I confess this may be true. This practice has allowed me to collect and begin study of esoteric viruses that might or might not be the next plague (e.g., Usutu virus, Gadgets Gully virus, Barmah Forest virus, and O’nyong’nyong virus.  Why do this?

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