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Modeling social networks

What looks like a Native American dream catcher is really a network of social interactions within a community. The red dots along the inner and outer circles represent people, while the different colored lines represent direct contact between them. All connections originate from four individuals... Read More

RNA virus packaging specificity explained?

In 1969 David Baltimore proposed that poliovirus RNA replication is coupled with packaging, in that only those genomes actively replicating will be selectively encapsidated. From an evolutionary standpoint, it is an ingenious requirement to ensure that only virus genomes capable of replication ... 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

TWiV 167: It starts with a cough



Hosts: Vincent Racaniello, Dickson Despommier 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

Microbes Capable of Surviving Harsh, Mars-Like Conditions Discovered

Soil samples obtained from South American volcanoes have revealed a smattering of different microbe types that have somehow managed to survive in extreme conditions, the University of Colorado-Boulder (CU-Boulder) announced in a June 8 press release.

According to the university, the scientist... Read More

TWiM 25 Letters

Peter writes:


Dear TWiM team I saw this fascinating paper on how the variety of bacteria populating human skin can influence who mosquitoes chose for the... Read More

Killer whales facing an airborne threat

New research shows that killer whales are inhaling bacteria, fungi and viruses once believed to be found only on land. Some of the pathogens are highly virulent. And some are even antibiotic-resistant.

The scientists followed the killer whales by boat, trying to catch the precise moment the a... 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

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

India polio-free for one year

A year has passed since the last reported case of poliomyelitis in India, which occurred on 13 January 2011 in a two year old girl in Howrah, West Bengal. 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

Controversial H5N1 research papers OK to publish, says U.S biosecurity panel

Two controversial papers on bird flu will be published by scientific journals this year after the go-ahead was given by a U.S biosecurity panel.

The National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) took a stand over the papers last year out of concerns that details of the studies - whi... 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

Microbes found thriving in Mars-like conditions

The discovery of microbes in any icy lava tube in Oregon raises hope that similar microorganisms could survive in the very similar conditions to be found on Mars.

The microbes are coping with near-freezing temperatures and low levels of oxygen, and can even grow in the absence of organic food... 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

E. coli: can subtractive reverse vaccinology help design a vaccine?

Escherichia coli is no stranger to the human body. In around 20% of us, E. coli is the predominant species in our gastrointestinal tract, where it lives as a commensal. But when E. coli gets out of hand it can cause anything from gastroenteritis to sepsis to urinary tract infections. It's those ... 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

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

Washington Post Kids: Ever wondered if there’s good bacteria?

As a pediatrician, I spend a lot of time looking for bacteria that might be making my patients sick. Some well-known illnesses that are caused by bacteria include strep throat, ear infections, Lyme disease and conjunctivitis (pinkeye). Bacteria are also responsible for acne, cavities and body od... Read More

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