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Dispatches from ASM Microbe - Sunday

We’ve had a whirlwind of amazing talks, poster sessions, and networking sessions so far at ASM Microbe 2016. In our previous two Dispatches from ASM Microbe, we’ve covered microbiomes, for which research ranges from extremely basic (Which microbes are present? How do we quantify them?) to clinic... Read More

Vaccine against respiratory syncytial virus shows promise in early trial

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health researchers say a new candidate vaccine against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) made with a weakened version of the virus shows great promise at fighting the disease, the leading cause of hospitalization for children under the age of one in the U... Read More

Scientists, share your Zika virus reagents!

Today I learned that a number of investigators refuse to share their samples of Zika virus with other laboratories.

There are countless stories about scientists not sharing reagents because they want to be the first to make a discovery. This behavior allows them to publish first, secure more ... Read More

Tick tock -- sequencing the tick genome could help defuse the Lyme disease time bomb

The deer tick transmits Lyme disease and other diseases, which cause thousands of human and animal deaths annually. With about 10,000 new patients each year, occurrences of Lyme disease in Switzerland are amongst the highest in Europe, representing a substantial healthcare cost and threatening S... Read More

Tug of war among bacteria

At the University of Cologne, biophysicists in the lab of Professor Berenike Maier were now able to show how differential mechanical forces can lead to cell sorting in biofilms, thereby determining their architecture. In their publication in the journal eLife, the team headed by the biophysicist... Read More

Changing the mindset of a pathogen-based vaccine

It’s hard to turn on the news at the moment and not hear about the latest emerging disease, Zika. The filovirus joins a cadre of infectious diseases spread by arthropod vectors – meaning the disease is passed between infected individuals via insect bites. A long list of microbes are spread this ... Read More

Dengue: Asymptomatic people transmit the virus to mosquitoes

Scientists at the Institut Pasteur in Cambodia, the Institut Pasteur in Paris and the CNRS provided proof that people infected by dengue virus but showing no clinical symptoms can actually infect mosquitoes that bite them. It appears that these asymptomatic people - who, together with mildly sym... Read More

Zika virus: 5 things to know

A concise "Five things to know about.... Zika virus infection" article for physicians highlights key points about this newly emerged virus in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) Read More

Phage diffusion on a bacterial lawn: not all plaques are created equal

Like us, bacteria have their own microbial attackers, in the form of bacteria-specific viruses called bacteriophage, or phage. These phage come in a variety of flavors but can be broadly categorized into virulent, which immediately begin to replicate and lyse (burst) the infected cell quickly, a... Read More


Bananas contain a substance that, when changed slightly by scientists, shows promise to fight a wide range of viruses, including the flu. Read More

New bat gammaherpesvirus may help understand bats' role in zoonoses

Many emerging viruses (such as SARS-CoV, Ebola virus, and the Henipavirus genus) are thought to have zoonotic reservoirs in the regional bat populations. Bats offer a threat to spreading these viruses because their flight capacity makes them readily mobile. Also, there are a whole lot of them: w... Read More

TWiV Special: DA Henderson, smallpox eradicator

Donald “D.A.” Henderson, a physician, educator, and epidemiologist who led the World Health Organization’s campaign to eradicate smallpox, died at 87 years of age on Aug. 19, 2016. Vincent was fortunate to have the opportunity to speak with DA Henderson in 2014 about his career, the smallpox era... Read More

Are Viruses Alive?

Plenty of people have weighed in on the question, 'Are Viruses Alive?' Here is my answer - different from all the others. Read More

Assessing gram stain error rates

Because of its simplicity and the rapid time-to-result turnaround, gram staining plays an important role in clinical microbiology. Learning the cell structure helps eliminate potential disease etiologies: learning an isolate is a gram-negative rod doesn’t tell you what the diagnosis is, but it h... Read More


Scientists believe they may be a step closer to developing a vaccine for congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV), one of the world’s leading infectious causes of birth defects. Read More

Famous Ancient Iceman Had Familiar Stomach Infection

Researchers have extracted the oldest complete genome sequence of a pathogen yet, from the body of the 5,300-year-old ice mummy Ötzi.

According to a January 7 paper in Science, the ‘Iceman’ was infected with the bacteriumHelicobacter pylori, which also plagues modern humans.

Few corpses h... Read More

Top secret, viruses with RNA genomes!

Today it is well known that viruses may contain DNA (poxvirus, mimivirus) or RNA (influenza virus, Zika virus), but for many years it was thought that genomes were only made of DNA. The surprise at finding only RNA in a virus is plainly evident in a 1953 letter from Harriett Ephrussi-Taylor to J... Read More


Bohr's atomic model comes to life with Kocuria rhizophila, Serratia marcescens, and Lactobaccillus casei. Read More

CRISPR/Cas9 used for rapid functional study of cancer-causing genes

In a novel use of the CRISPR/Cas9 system, which can be deployed to switch genes off, researchers from Germany, the UK and Spain have developed a multiplexed screening approach to study and model cancer development in mice. The scientists mutated genes in the adult mouse liver uncovering their ca... Read More

THE RIDDLE OF THE R.I.D.L _ Zika virus Comics (Playlist)

In Zanzare, the new comic from Cimaza (www.cimazacomics.com/), we are plunged head-first into the global mystery of the Zika virus. We meet the mosquitoes (in Italian: zanzare) implicated in its spread; but the insects plead their innocence, saying it's all a misunderstanding. They lay their cas... Read More
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