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Group urges speedier approvals for badly needed antibiotics

Infectious-disease doctors have proposed a speedier, easier approval process for drug companies developing antibiotics against untreatable illnesses.

The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) made the proposal today at a hearing of a subcommittee of the US House of Representatives Com... Read More

NEJM: The Burden of Disease and the Changing Task of Medicine

At first glance, the inaugural 1812 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine and Surgery, and the Collateral Branches of Science seems reassuringly familiar: a review of angina pectoris, articles on infant diarrhea and burns. The apparent similarity to today's Journal, however, obscures a fu... Read More

Synthetic Stool a Prospective Treatment for C. Difficile

A synthetic mixture of intestinal bacteria could one day replace stool transplants as a treatment for Clostridium difficile (C. difficile). C . difficile is a toxin-producing bacteria that can overpopulate the colon when antibiotics eradicate other, naturally protective bacteria living there.

... Read More

Killer bird flu? What's behind the controversy over bird flu research

Trine Tsouderos, Chicago Tribune reporter, has published a Q&A with several leading virologists on the controversy surrounding the potential impact of full publication of two studies on the airborne transmissibility of H5N1.

"Media reports about the controversy have been marked by frightenin... Read More

A viral mashup in snakes

If you know anything about snakes you might be familiar with snake inclusion body disease, or IBD. This transmissible and fatal disease affects snakes of a variety of species but has been best studied in boas. The name comes from the presence of large masses (inclusions) in the cytoplasm of cell... Read More

Microbes Go Rafting on Floating Volcanic Rocks

Volcanoes bring death and destruction, but out of the ashes life soon finds fertile ground. A unique experiment is sifting through floating debris from an ongoing volcanic event to see how microbes move in. The results may help in assessing a recent hypothesis that the first life forms may have ... Read More

TWiV 179 Letters

Ebrahim writes:


Dear Dr. Racaniello


I was watching the conference in Dublin and I wanted to thank you for sharing my e-mail with the people in the panel, since I saw how nice it was for me to reach the specialists with that ease through TWIV.<... Read More

Yale Nobel laureate creates compound that halts growth of malaria parasite

A drug candidate that has shown promise for neutralizing dangerous bacteria also prevents growth of the parasite that causes malaria, new research by a Yale University team headed by Nobel laureate Sidney Altman shows.

The compound created in the labs of Altman and co-senior author Choukri Be... Read More

Finding One Bug

A new, nanometer-sized biosensor can detect a single deadly bacterium in tainted ground beef. How? Researchers attached nanoparticles, each packed with thousands of dye molecules, to an antibody that recognizes the microbe E. coli O157:H7. When the nanoball-antibody combo comes into contact with... Read More

New study maps hotspots of human-animal infectious diseases and emerging disease outbreaks

A new global study mapping human-animal diseases like tuberculosis (TB) and Rift Valley fever finds that an "unlucky" 13 zoonoses are responsible for 2.4 billion cases of human illness and 2.2 million deaths per year. The vast majority occur in low- and middle-income countries.

The report, wh... Read More

TWiM 36 Letters

Todd writes:

Just a quick note to say how much I enjoy TWiM, and in particular, how much I enjoyed episode 32 featuring Rosie Redfield. I don't know how you find time to do this, but I'm gl... Read More

Jekyll and Hyde bacteria aids or kills, depending on chance

Living in the guts of worms are seemingly innocuous bacteria that contribute to their survival. With a flip of a switch, however, these same bacteria transform from harmless microbes into deadly insecticides.

In the current issue of Science, Michigan State University researchers led a study t... Read More

A confocal micrograph of an intestinal biopsy from a child infected with shiga toxin-producing E. coli.

Shiga toxin is an extremely potent toxin that is produced when the bacterium contains a bacteriophage carrying the toxin gene. It is closely linked with Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome and acute renal failure in children. After ingestion via contaminated food or water the E. coli bacteria colonize t... Read More

Kawaoka paper published on aerosol transmission of H5 influenza virus in ferrets

One of two papers on avian influenza H5N1 virus that caused such a furor in the past six months was published today in the journal Nature. I have read it, and I can assure you that the results do not enable the construction of a deadly biological weapon. Instead, they illuminate important requir... Read More

The Microbiology of Speciation

The fields of microbial symbiosis and speciation have achieved astonishing advances during the past two decades, yet symbiosis and speciation are not commonly discussed together and can seem to be odd partners in their capacity to operate synergistically in nature. Indeed, microbial symbiosis is... Read More

Eternal Yogurt: The Starter That Lives Forever

If you make your own yogurt, there's a chance your yogurt could outlive you.
That's because some bacteria that grow and feed on the sugar in milk – the process that ferments milk into yogurt — can procreate indefinitely in new generations of yogurt.

But not all yogurts have these immortal po... Read More

Policy On High-Risk Biological Research Tightened

The Obama administration has announced a new policy to handle the risks posed by legitimate biological research that could, in the wrong hands, threaten the public.

The move comes in response to a huge debate over recent experiments on bird flu virus that got funding from the National Institu... Read More

Serratia marcescens on a DNA plate

Serratia marcescens streaked on a DNA plate and incubated for 48 hours at room temperature. Read More

TWiV 177 Letters

John writes:


Dear TWIVvers,


In TWIV 173, you talked about a study on antibody levels to bird flu (H5N1) in various populations, and related this to infections that don't cause serious enough illness to send someone to the hospital, or perhaps to get them teste... Read More

Small Comfort: Nanomedicine Able to Penetrate Bodily Defenses

Researchers use stealthy nanoscale particles to infiltrate vaginal mucus and keep herpes at bay in mice.

Tears and a runny nose can be unpleasant on a windy day, but these mucosal secretions play a vital role in protecting the body from viruses and other malicious microbes. Unfortunately, muc... Read More

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