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About viruses and viral disease



Last Build Date: Fri, 15 Dec 2017 22:03:06 +0000

 



Retroviruses turned egg-layers into live-bearers

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 02:03:13 +0000

The protein syncytin, which is essential for formation of the placenta, originally came to the genome of our ancestors, and those of other mammals, via a retrovirus infection. Placental structures have also developed in non-mammalian vertebrates. The Mabuya lizard (pictured: image credit), which emerged 25 million years ago, has a placenta very much like those […]



Trial By Error: The Crawley Chronicles, Resumed

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 19:42:01 +0000

By David Tuller, DrPH So let’s talk about Professor Esther Crawley’s SMILE trial, published in September by the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood, one of the BMJ Publishing Group’s titles. The study reported that a commercial intervention called the Lightning Process was an effective treatment for children with CFS/ME when offered along with what […]



TWiV 471: Songs of innocence and experience

Sun, 10 Dec 2017 16:29:31 +0000

The TWiVerinos discuss restriction of dengue virus vaccine by Sanofi, and data which suggest that Dengvaxia causes enhanced disease in previously uninfected recipients. <span data-mce-type=”bookmark” style=”display: inline-block; width: 0px; overflow: hidden; line-height: 0;” class=”mce_SELRES_start”></span>&lt;span data-mce-type=”bookmark” style=”display: inline-block; width: 0px; overflow: hidden; line-height: 0;” class=”mce_SELRES_start”&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&amp;lt;span data-mce-type=”bookmark” style=”display: inline-block; width: 0px; overflow: hidden; line-height: 0;” […]



A problem with dengue virus vaccine

Fri, 08 Dec 2017 03:54:14 +0000

A dengue virus vaccine was recently developed not only to prevent first infections, but to avoid severe disease that may occur upon second and third infections. This consequence, called antibody dependent enhancement (ADE), now appears to be caused by the vaccine itself. Primary dengue virus infection may lead to a disease that includes fever, headache, […]



Trial By Error: My One-Sided Correspondence with Professor Crawley

Mon, 04 Dec 2017 07:23:02 +0000

By David Tuller, DrPH Well, last week was certainly exciting! As I wrote on Wednesday, I was planning to post about Professor Esther Crawley’s SMILE trial. However, that plan changed when Sue Paterson, the University of Bristol’s director of legal services, e-mailed me what I guess was supposed to be a scary letter. The letter […]



TWiV 470: Just a passing phage

Sun, 03 Dec 2017 15:33:51 +0000

The TWiV ninjas reveal that bacteriophage particles rapidly move across monolayers of eukaryotic cells from different tissues. <span data-mce-type=”bookmark” style=”display: inline-block; width: 0px; overflow: hidden; line-height: 0;” class=”mce_SELRES_start”></span>&lt;span data-mce-type=”bookmark” style=”display: inline-block; width: 0px; overflow: hidden; line-height: 0;” class=”mce_SELRES_start”&gt;&lt;/span&gt; Click arrow to play Download TWiV 470 (71 MB .mp3, 117  min) Subscribe (free): iTunes, RSS, email Become a patron of TWiV! Show […]



How a toupee compromised influenza vaccine

Thu, 30 Nov 2017 22:28:49 +0000

The influenza virus vaccine is frequently updated to ensure that it protects against infection with circulating virus strains. In some years the vaccine matches the circulating strains, but in others, there is a mismatch. The result is that the vaccine is less effective at protecting from infection. During the 2014-15 influenza season there was a […]



Trial By Error: The Crawley Chronicles, Continued

Wed, 29 Nov 2017 14:48:26 +0000

By David Tuller, DrPH Update: About 20 minutes after posting this blog, I received the following communication from Ms. Paterson: Dear Dr Tuller Thank you for your email of 22 November. If by a ‘cease and desist’ letter you mean a letter threatening legal action if the recipient does not stop a specified activity or […]



TWiV 469: Mycovirus stuffed potatoes

Sun, 26 Nov 2017 15:09:37 +0000

The TWiV hosts discuss a plant virus that infects a fungus, and whether you need to work insane hours to succeed in science. <span data-mce-type=”bookmark” style=”display: inline-block; width: 0px; overflow: hidden; line-height: 0;” class=”mce_SELRES_start”></span> Click arrow to play Download TWiV 469 (66 MB .mp3, 108 min) Subscribe (free): iTunes, RSS, email Become a patron of TWiV! Show notes at microbe.tv/twiv



Immune 2: Lymphocytes after dark

Sat, 25 Nov 2017 16:43:16 +0000

Cindy, Steph, and Vincent reveal that lymphocyte trafficking through lymph nodes and lymph is circadian – it is dependent on the time of day. Click arrow to play Download Immune 2 (53 MB .mp3, 87 min) Subscribe (free): iTunes, RSS, email Become a patron of Immune! Show notes at microbe.tv/immune



Trial By Error: Hey Bristol, Where Is My Cease and Desist Letter?

Wed, 22 Nov 2017 16:34:27 +0000

By David Tuller, DrPH Earlier today, I e-mailed the following letter to Sue Paterson, University of Bristol’s Director of Legal Services, to clarify whether or not I had been sent a cease and desist letter (to cease and desist what, exactly?). Professor Esther Crawley made this claim at her public talk last Friday. I have […]



Trial By Error: My Brief Encounter with Professor Crawley

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 10:46:02 +0000

By David Tuller, DrPH At noon last Friday, at the University of Exeter’s Mood Disorders Centre, Professor Esther Crawley gave a talk called “What is new in paediatric CFS/ME research.” When I saw a notice about the event the day before, I felt it might be my one chance to ask her directly about her […]



TWiV 468: Zika by the slice

Sun, 19 Nov 2017 16:27:10 +0000

Amy Rosenfeld joins the TWiV team to talk about her career and her work on Zika virus neurotropism using embryonic mouse organotypic brain slice cultures. Click arrow to play Download TWiV 468 (66 MB .mp3, 107 min) Subscribe (free): iTunes, RSS, email Become a patron of TWiV! Show notes at microbe.tv/twiv



Lymphocytes after dark

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 02:36:49 +0000

When you are infected with a microbe, pieces of the pathogen are picked up by sentinel dendritic cells and brought to local lymph nodes. There the sentinels present their gifts to lymphocytes – B (pictured; image credit) and T cells – who then decide if they are foreign, in which case an immune response begins. […]



Trial By Error: What’s Going On, BMJ Best Practice?

Wed, 15 Nov 2017 22:52:08 +0000

By David Tuller, DrPH Something’s weird over at BMJ Best Practice, a resource for clinical decision-making and an arm of the BMJ Publishing Group. Two days ago, Steven Lubet and I posted a blog praising the new guide written by Dr. James Baraniuk and apparently reviewed by Peter White, along with two other experts. First, […]



TWiV 467: Jon and Ted’s Excellent Adventure

Tue, 14 Nov 2017 19:23:10 +0000

Jon and Teddy Yewdell join the TWiV team to talk about their careers, their research, and the problems with biomedical research. Click arrow to play Download TWiV 467 (60 MB .mp3, 100 min) Subscribe (free): iTunes, RSS, email Become a patron of TWiV! Show notes at microbe.tv/twiv.



Trial By Error: The Surprising New BMJ Best Practice Guide

Mon, 13 Nov 2017 13:57:43 +0000

By Steven Lubet, JD, and David Tuller, DrPH Update: Nov 13th We wrote this post based on a version of the guide that appeared recently and had been updated on July 31, 2017. That version lists Peter White as among three peer-reviewers. As commenters pointed out soon after the post went up, however, Peter White’s […]



Zika virus blocks the neuron road

Thu, 09 Nov 2017 21:57:45 +0000

Written with Amy Rosenfeld, Ph.D. By infecting organotypic brain slice cultures from embryonic mice, we have shown that Zika virus has always been neurotropic. The same culture system provides information on how Zika virus infection of the developing brain might lead to microcephaly. The small heads observed in microcephalic children reflect a physically smaller brain […]



TWiV 466: The Capsid Club

Sun, 05 Nov 2017 17:01:38 +0000

From Indiana University, Vincent and Kathy speak with Tuli Mukhopadhyay, John Patton, and Adam Zlotnick about their careers and their work on alphaviruses, hepatitis B virus, and rotaviruses. Click arrow to play Download TWiV 466 (40 MB .mp3, 66 min) Subscribe (free): iTunes, RSS, email Become a patron of TWiV! Show notes at microbe.tv/twiv



Zika virus has always been neurotropic

Thu, 02 Nov 2017 16:48:01 +0000

Written with Amy Rosenfeld, Ph.D. Zika virus has been infecting humans since at least the 1950s (and probably earlier), but epidemics of infection have only been observed in the past ten years and congenital Zika syndrome in the last two. Two hypotheses emerged to explain this new pattern of disease: evolution of the virus, or […]



TWiV 465: Theodora the explorer

Sun, 29 Oct 2017 17:35:02 +0000

Theodora Hatziioannou joins the TWiV team to discuss a macaque model for AIDS, and how a cell protein that blocks HIV-1 infection interacts with double-stranded RNA. Click arrow to play Download TWiV 465 (53 MB .mp3, 88 min) Subscribe (free): iTunes, RSS, email Become a patron of TWiV! Show notes at microbe.tv/twiv



Good viruses visiting bad neighborhoods

Fri, 27 Oct 2017 00:06:46 +0000

What would happen to an RNA virus if its genome were placed in a bad neighborhood? The answer is that fitness plummets. RNA virus populations are not composed of a single defined nucleic acid sequence, but are dynamic distributions of many nonidentical but related members. In the past I have referred to these populations as quasispecies but […]



Trial By Error: Current NICE Guidance Stands, For Now

Mon, 23 Oct 2017 16:11:24 +0000

By David Tuller, DrPH Last week I sent an e-mail with some questions to Sir Andrew Dillon, the chief executive of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). In particular, the questions involved the status of the ten-year-old guidance for CFS/ME, CG53, and of references to the illness elsewhere within the NICE system. […]



TWiV 464: Boston baked viruses

Sun, 22 Oct 2017 13:19:30 +0000

At Tufts University Dental School in Boston, Vincent speaks with Katya Heldwein and Sean Whelan about their careers and their work on herpesvirus structure and replication of vesicular stomatitis virus. Click arrow to play Download TWiV 464 (53 MB .mp3, 88 min) Subscribe (free): iTunes, RSS, email Become a patron of TWiV! Show notes at microbe.tv/twiv



From cell proteins to viral capsids

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 02:54:10 +0000

We have previously discussed the idea that viruses originated from selfish genetic elements such as plasmids and transposons when these nucleic acids acquired structural proteins (see A plasmid on the road to becoming a virus). I want to explore in more detail the idea that the structural proteins of  viruses likely originated from cell proteins (link to […]



Trial By Error: Another Letter to NICE’s Sir Andrew Dillon

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 18:09:59 +0000

By David Tuller, DrPH First, for those who might have missed it, here’s a conversation from This Week in Virology (TWiV), posted a few days ago. Dr. Racaniello and I discuss the CDC, NICE, Esther Crawley’s ethically challenged behavior, the CMRC, and other stuff. Second, earlier today, I sent the following e-mail to Sir Andrew […]



Truth Wins: A Practical Guide to Succeeding in Biomedical Research, by Jonathan Yewdell

Mon, 16 Oct 2017 16:30:22 +0000

Jonathan Yewdell, Chief of the Cellular Biology Section at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has written a book entitled Truth Wins: A Practical Guide to Succeeding in Biomedical Research.  Dr. Yewdell is well known for his presentations about the problems with biomedical science, a subject we discussed on TWiV 208: The Biomedical […]



TWiV 463: We haven’t meth but these names ring Nobel

Sun, 15 Oct 2017 15:20:15 +0000

The TWiViridae review the 2017 Nobel Prizes for cryoEM and circadian rhythms, and discuss modulation of plant virus replication by RNA methylation. Click arrow to play Download TWiV 463 (63 MB .mp3, 104 min) Subscribe (free): iTunes, RSS, email Become a patron of TWiV! Show notes at microbe.tv/twiv



Have a methyl with your viral RNA

Fri, 13 Oct 2017 01:54:35 +0000

Chemical modification of RNA by the addition of methyl groups is known to alter gene expression without changing the nucleotide sequence. The addition of a methyl group to adenosine has been found to regulate gene expression of animal viruses, and most recently of plant viruses. The illustration shows a methyl (CH3-) group added to the […]



TWiV 462: Splicing RNA with Phillip A. Sharp

Tue, 10 Oct 2017 16:06:16 +0000

Vincent speaks with 1993 Nobel Laureate Phillip A. Sharp about his career and his seminal discovery of RNA splicing in mammalian cells, which changed our understanding of gene structure. Click arrow to play Download TWiV 462 (24 MB .mp3, 39 min) Subscribe (free): iTunes, RSS, email Become a patron of TWiV! Show notes at microbe.tv/twiv



Trial By Error: NIH Grants $2.1 Million to UK Biobank!

Wed, 04 Oct 2017 00:16:03 +0000

By David Tuller, DrPH The National Institutes of Health is making a $2.1 million grant to the UK ME/CFS Biobank–a huge endorsement of this important project run by CureME and housed at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Here’s what the ME Association wrote on its website: “The funding represents the biggest ever […]



TWiV 461: Gotta trace them all!

Sun, 01 Oct 2017 17:03:53 +0000

The TWiVers discuss the declining readability of scientific texts, and review the use of self-inactivating rabies virus for tracing neural circuits. Click arrow to play Download TWiV 461 (79 MB .mp3, 127 min) Subscribe (free): iTunes, RSS, email Become a patron of TWiV! Show notes at microbe.tv/twiv



Trial By Error: NICE Rejects Current Guidance, Plans “Full Update”

Mon, 25 Sep 2017 13:36:04 +0000

By David Tuller, DrPH Let’s give credit where it’s due. Apparently someone with decision-making authority at the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has a grasp on reality and is willing to challenge the claims of the biopsychosocial ideological brigades. That’s the only logical explanation for last Wednesday’s welcome but unexpected announcement that […]



TWiV 460: Penn, a great sandbox for science

Sun, 24 Sep 2017 13:20:22 +0000

Vincent travels to the University of Pennsylvania and speaks with virologists Gary Cohen, Scott Hensley, Carolina Lopez, and Susan Weiss about their careers and their research. Click arrow to play Download TWiV 460 (56 MB .mp3, 93 min) Subscribe (free): iTunes, RSS, email Become a patron of TWiV! Show notes at microbe.tv/twiv



Scientific jargon and readability: What is your r-index?

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 21:04:57 +0000

The scientists I know realize that they use jargon, both in their writing and in their seminars – but they can’t seem to stop. There is a very good reason to  stop using jargon – it has likely lead to a decrease in the readability of scientific texts for the past 100 years (link to […]



Trial By Error: MEGA’s Latest Failure

Mon, 18 Sep 2017 15:07:02 +0000

By David Tuller, DrPH In his welcome talk at last week’s annual conference of the CFS/ME Research Collaborative (CMRC), the chair, Professor Stephen Holgate, praised his colleague and second-in-command, Professor Esther Crawley, for her “stunning” and “amazing” work on the group’s main research initiative. There was just one problem: That initiative, the ME/CFS Epidemiology and […]



TWiV 459: Polio turns over a new leaf

Sun, 17 Sep 2017 11:50:48 +0000

The TWiV team reviews the first FDA approved gene therapy, accidental exposure to poliovirus type 2 in a manufacturing plant, and production of a candidate poliovirus vaccine in plants. Click arrow to play Download TWiV 459 (63 MB .mp3, 105 min) Subscribe (free): iTunes, RSS, email Become a patron of TWiV! Show notes at microbe.tv/twiv



The $475,000 drug

Fri, 15 Sep 2017 02:38:46 +0000

The US Food and Drug Administration recently approved the first gene therapy, Kymriah, to treat B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. It uses a lentivirus to modify the patient’s T cells to kill tumor cells. Acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or ALL, is caused by uncontrolled growth of B cells, which normally produce antibodies to fight off infections. It […]



Trial By Error: The NICE “Topic Expert” Reports

Mon, 11 Sep 2017 16:11:36 +0000

By David Tuller, DrPH My first recent freedom of information request to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) was for information about the experts consulted in the current process of reviewing CG53, the 2007 guidance for the illness the agency calls chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis. In its response, the agency explained that […]



TWiV 458: Saliva of the fittest

Sun, 10 Sep 2017 17:02:39 +0000

The TWiVians present an imported case of yellow fever in New York City, and explain how a dengue virus subgenomic RNA disrupts immunity in mosquito salivary glands to increase virus replication. Click arrow to play Download TWiV 458 (72 MB .mp3, 119 min) Subscribe (free): iTunes, RSS, email Become a patron of TWiV! Show notes at microbe.tv/twiv.



Roger W. Hendrix, 74

Fri, 08 Sep 2017 14:49:52 +0000

Virologist Roger W. Hendrix died on 15 August 2017. I only met Roger once, at the 2011 ASM meeting in New Orleans where we recorded an episode of This Week in Virology. The video of that episode is below, starting at my conversation with Roger at 30:34. Harmit Malik and Rachel Katzenellenbogen were my other […]



Thirty-five years later

Wed, 06 Sep 2017 15:43:11 +0000

Thirty-five years ago this month, in September 1982, I arrived at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons to open my virology laboratory. I brought with me an infectious DNA copy of the poliovirus RNA genome, the first of its kind, and a lot of enthusiasm. Over the years we used this infectious DNA to […]



TWiV 457: The Red Queen meets the White Rabbit

Sun, 03 Sep 2017 13:59:51 +0000

Brianne returns to the TWiV Gang to discuss the distribution of proteins on the influenza viral genome, and the evolution of myxoma virus that was released in Australia to control the rabbit population. Click arrow to play Download TWiV 457 (74 MB .mp3, 123 min) Subscribe (free): iTunes, RSS, email Become a patron of TWiV! Show notes at microbe.tv/twiv



A plasmid on the road to becoming a virus

Fri, 01 Sep 2017 01:45:45 +0000

Plasmids have been discovered that can move from cell to cell within membrane vesicles in a species of Archaea (link to paper). They provide clues about the origin of virus particles. Electron microscope analysis of the culture medium from Halobrum lacusprofundi R1S1, an Archaeal strain from Antarctica, revealed spherical particles which were subsequently shown to […]



Trial By Error: Seeking More Details on Crawley School Absence Study

Wed, 30 Aug 2017 16:12:35 +0000

By David Tuller, DrPH This morning I sent the following freedom of information request to Bristol University. My friend and colleague Steven Lubet, a professor at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, joined me in making this request. Professor Lubet is an expert on legal ethics, among many other fields, and in July he guest-blogged here […]



Trial By Error: No Ethical Review of Crawley School Absence Study

Mon, 28 Aug 2017 15:44:45 +0000

By David Tuller, DrPH This is a complicated post. Here are the key points. The rest is details: *Professor Esther Crawley and co-authors claimed a 2011 study in BMJ Open was exempt from ethical review because it involved the routine collection of data for “service evaluation.” Yet the 2011 study was not an evaluation of […]



TWiV 456: Be careful of canons

Sun, 27 Aug 2017 11:22:18 +0000

Brianne joins the TWiVMasters to explain how mutations in genes encoding RNA polymerase III predispose children to severe varicella, and detection of an RNA virus by a DNA sensor.   Click arrow to play Download TWiV 456 (75 MB .mp3, 124 min) Subscribe (free): iTunes, RSS, email Become a patron of TWiV! Show notes at microbe.tv/twiv.



Phage synergy with the immune system

Thu, 24 Aug 2017 21:36:29 +0000

Not long after their discovery, viruses that infect bacteria – bacteriophages – were considered as therapeutic agents for treating infections. Despite many years of research on so-called phage therapy, clinical trials have produced conflicting results. They might be explained in part by the results of a new study which show that the host innate immune system […]



TWiV 455: Pork and genes

Sun, 20 Aug 2017 13:55:43 +0000

Erin Garcia joins the TWiVirions to discuss a computer exploit encoded in DNA, creation of pigs free of endogenous retroviruses, and mutations in the gene encoding an innate sensor of RNA in children with severe viral respiratory disease.   Click arrow to play Download TWiV 455 (64 MB .mp3, 105 min) Subscribe (free): iTunes, RSS, email Become a patron of TWiV! Show notes […]



Purging the PERVs

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 02:03:25 +0000

There aren’t enough human organs to meet the needs for transplantation, so we have turned to pigs. Unfortunately pig cells contain porcine endogenous retroviruses, PERVS, which could infect the transplant recipient, leading to tumor formation. But why worry? Just use CRISPR to purge the PERVs. The genomes of many species on Earth are littered with endogenous […]