viruses

Part I. The back story from the genome record Together, these five posts describe the discovery of a novel paramyxovirus in the Aedes aegyptii genome and a new method for finding interesting anomalies in GenBank. I. The back story from the genome record II. What do the mumps proteins do? And how do we find out? III. Serendipity strikes when we Blink. IV. ... Read more
Mumps was a common childhood disease when I was a child. We grew up learning that it was better to get mumps as a child because getting it as an adult would make you sterile. No doubt that idea arose from symptoms like swollen glands, swollen testicles, etc. When I looked in PubMed though, I couldn't find much data on sterility (at least not easily). I did find data on hearing loss. Death is not a common outcome of mumps. Between 1953 and 1962, there were 162,344 cases of mumps in the U.S. every year and only 39 deaths per year. People, mostly children, did die from mumps, ... Read more
It's déjà vu all over again. ... Read more
The first chapter in Arthur Allen's book "Vaccine" describes the history of smallpox vaccination in the United States. In 1721, in Boston, the prevailing belief was that to get vaccinated was to intervene with "divine providence." If you tried to protect yourself, it meant that you lacked faith
Have you ever wondered what kinds of viruses can be found in human waste? Mya Breitbart and team have been sequencing nucleic acids from fecal samples in order to find out. You might expect that we'd find viruses that infect humans or viruses that infect the bacteria in our gut. I wouldn't have expected to learn the result that they found. A large number, 60% of the viral DNA sequences were from unknown viruses. That's not a surprise. The surprise came when they looked at the RNA viruses.
Instead, the viral sequences most often came from a plant pathogen ... Read more
A potential link between lung cancer and human papilloma virus may make parents even more glad about vaccinating their children with Gardasil®. Not only are the children protected against viruses that commonly cause cervical cancer, they may be protected against some forms of lung cancer as well. The April 25th version of Nature News reports (1) that two viruses, HPV (Human papilloma virus) and measles virus, have been found in lung tumors. From Nature News:
Samuel Ariad of the Soroka Medical Center in Beer Sheva, Israel, and his colleagues began by analyzing ... Read more
The next time you bite into a crisp juicy apple and the tart juices spill out around your tongue, remember the honeybee. Our fall harvest depends heavily on honeybees carrying pollen from plant to plant. Luscious fruits and vegetables wouldn't grace our table, were it not for the honeybees and other pollinators. i-5b72428eaa872c6d705e8a3dfcbe8139-bee.pngLately though, the buzz about our furry little helpers hasn't been good. ... Read more
Two protein structures from an avian influenza virus are shown below. One form of the protein makes influenza virus resistant to Oseltamivir (Tamiflu®) Don't worry, these proteins aren't from H5N1, but they do come from a related influenza virus that also infects birds.

One protein structure is from a strain that is sensitive to an anti-viral drug called "Tamiflu®". The other structure is from the same virus, except there's a slight difference. A single base change in the viral RNA changed the codon that tells the translation ... Read more
Many medical conditions today are treated but never cured. Imagine, a child with a genetic disease like juvenile diabetes or hemophilia. This child will be taking expensive medications for their entire lives. In the case of some diseases the cost of the medications might be more than child or their parents can ever hope to earn in their lifetimes, much less spend on a life-saving drug. This is one of the many reasons why people have placed such great hopes in gene therapy. If a disease results from a defective gene, and we could replace it or supplement it with a functional gene, ... Read more
I'm seeing these things everywhere. Well, okay, maybe not everywhere. But I have seen lots of these in both Fairbanks and Anchorage. Is this a coincidence? i-2589b433d9fd40026ee03279f07be491-image.jpg This is a hand-sanitizer, with instructions on how to cough safely. ... Read more
Yesterday, both Joshua and I wrote about grasses that grow in the unusually hot soil at Yellowstone National Park. Now, I knew that hot springs bacteria can tolerate high temperatures, but I was really surprised to learn that plants could. It was even more surprising to learn that this amazing ability was conferred on the plants by an infected fungus. I presented the data ... Read more

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