Posts Tagged ‘Google+’

Listen Closely To The Bats and You Can Hear the Viral Chatter 

Thursday, March 21st, 2013
We can’t say for sure whether we’re at the beginning of a HCoV-EMC pandemic, or at the end of a minor outbreak, or experiencing something in between. But scientists are not waiting around until the virus has finished traveling down whatever path it will take. They’re working hard to figure out the biology of the virus, and they’re also trying to figure out its history. How it got into 15 people over the past 9 months might give us a hint as to what it may do in the future.
Virologists I’ve spoken to favor a phenomenon known as “viral chatter.” Viruses don’t just barge across the species barrier in one great rush. They tentatively make incursions–many of them spread across years. The SARS virus, for example, infected a few people before becoming a massive epidemic in 2003. During these incursions, animal viruses may acquire mutations that gradually prepare them to become good at spreading from person to person.
The Loom: http://goo.gl/mPmzq

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Bug busting properties of Manuka honey assessed 

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013
“You won’t bee-lieve it! Could manuka honey beat drug-resistant superbugs?” asks the Mail Online website, prompted by a new study into the bacteria killing potential of honey. However, one salient point missing from the news coverage of the study is that it was funded and partly carried out by a company called Comvita, which supplies medical grade honey. Although this does not necessarily mean the results are biased, ideally they need to be replicated and confirmed by independent laboratories.
While the current study does give further information about the action of honey in the laboratory, the real test is to assess the effects on real patients. A recent systematic review by the Cochrane collaboration has suggested that while there are initial indications honey may have some effect in moderate burns, as yet there is no robust evidence of a beneficial effect of honey on wound healing.

NHS Choices: http://goo.gl/7A7kc

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Century-old puzzle of Theiler’s hepatitis solved 

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013
For almost 100 years, veterinarians have puzzled over the cause of Theiler’s disease, a mysterious type of equine hepatitis that is linked to blood products and causes liver failure in up to 90% of afflicted animals. A team of scientists has now discovered that the disease is caused by a virus – TDAV. TDAV belongs to the family Flaviviridae, which includes the viruses behind yellow fever, dengue fever and hepatitis C. It is most closely associated with a genus of newly discovered viruses called Pegivirus, and is the first of these viruses to be convincingly linked to disease.
Nature News: http://goo.gl/qI9uI
PNAS (Source): http://goo.gl/xZmpo

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Building a super elongation complex for HIV 

Friday, March 8th, 2013
AIDS, which is estimated to have claimed the lives of more than 30 million people worldwide, is caused by HIV, a member of the lentivirus family of single-stranded RNA viruses. HIV infects cells that belong to the immune system; when the virus enters a cell, a viral enzyme converts HIV RNA into double-stranded DNA through a process called reverse transcription. The viral DNA then moves to the nucleus, where another viral enzyme integrates it into the host cell’s own DNA. From this point onwards, the virus can either remain latent (and invisible to the host immune system) or it can begin to replicate to produce more virus particles. To produce its genetic material, HIV ‘hijacks’ the cell’s gene expression machinery, forcing a cellular enzyme called RNA polymerase II to transcribe viral DNA along with the cell’s own DNA. A better understanding of the host cell protein complex that helps HIV replicate inside cells offers the possibility of new therapeutic targets: http://goo.gl/ipOAaFull paper: http://goo.gl/n05dE

#MicrobiologyBytes

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Microbial Bebop 

Thursday, March 7th, 2013
“Microbial bebop” is created using five years’ worth of consecutive measurements of ocean microbial life and environmental factors like temperature, dissolved salts and chlorophyll concentrations. How? See: http://goo.gl/HJTec

Listen to the oceans here: https://soundcloud.com/plos-one-media/sets/microbial-bebop

#MicrobiologyBytes

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Is The Baby Cured? 

Monday, March 4th, 2013
The BBC News analysis (http://goo.gl/D6W9e) of this morning’s new story about a baby “cured” of HIV infection gets it exactly right. All the news reports make it clear that the child still carries the HIV virus (as integrated proviruses presumably), and even though it is not currently “active”, we do not know what the future holds for this child.

It is possible to cure HIV infection, as in the case of the “Berlin patient” (Long-Term Control of HIV by CCR5 Delta32/Delta32 Stem-Cell Transplantation”. N Engl J Med 360 (7): 692–698. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa0802905 http://goo.gl/f6Exg), but we will not know the fate of this case until years have elapsed and the peer reviewed science has been published.

#MicrobiologyBytes

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Modified bacteria turn waste into fuel 

Friday, March 1st, 2013
“Green” chemistry turns plant waste into fatty acids, and then into fuel.

Genetically modified E. coli bacteria are being used to to produce fatty acids from hydrolysates of biomass products such as  switchgrass and forestry residues. There are two ways to make fuel from biomass – either you make alcohol, or you make petroleum-like fuels that can go into current infrastructure. This program is for infrastructure-compatible transportation fuels. Since the project began, the researchers have increased fuel production 100-fold.

Source: http://goo.gl/Ka6Ja

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Novel Coronavirus is Well-adapted to Humans, Susceptible to Immunotherapy 

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

Novel Coronavirus is Well-adapted to Humans, Susceptible to Immunotherapy
The new coronavirus that has emerged in the Middle East is well-adapted to infecting humans but could potentially be treated with immunotherapy. HCoV-EMC can penetrate the bronchial epithelium and evade the innate immune system as easily as a cold virus can, signs that HCoV-EMC is well-equipped for infecting human cells. The study also reveals that the virus is susceptible to treatment with interferons, immune proteins that have been used successfully to treat other viral diseases, opening a possible mode of treatment in the event of a large-scale outbreak. http://goo.gl/kaUpj

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What is the commonest living thing on Earth? 

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

Pelagibacter ubique is the most successful member of a group of bacteria called SAR11, that jointly constitute about a third of the single-celled organisms in the ocean. But this is not P. ubique’s only claim to fame, for unlike almost every other known cellular creature, it and its relatives have seemed to be untroubled by viruses. But four viruses that parasitise P. ubique have now neen found, and one called HTVC010P was the commonest. It thus displaces its host as the likely winner of the most-common-living-thing prize.

Abundant SAR11 viruses in the ocean. (2013) Nature. doi: 10.1038/nature11921 http://goo.gl/iXVyF

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