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Consumer Reports Insights: Health clubs harbor hidden dangers

Joining a health club can make it easier and more fun to exercise. But gyms can also present safety problems. Bacteria in poorly maintained pools can spread disease. Antibiotic-resistant staph infections can be picked up in crowded locker rooms and from heavily used exercise equipment. You can b... Read More

Researchers discover human immune system has emergency backup plan

New research by scientists at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences reveals that the immune system has an effective backup plan to protect the body from infection when the "master regulator" of the body's innate immun... Read More

ME, or chronic fatigue syndrome, 'not caused by the XMRV virus', say researchers

A new study has cast further doubt on the idea that a virus called XMRV causes chronic fatigue syndrome.

US scientists linked the condition, also known as ME, to a mouse-like virus in 2009 after finding it in blood samples.

Now, UK experts say the discovery was a "false positive", caused b... Read More

A tale of an ingenious experiment with a dubious interpretation

A couple of months ago, I attended a talk given by Robert Austin from the Princeton University Physics department. I debated with myself for quite a while about whether to report on this talk for two reasons: the results are largely unpublished, for reasons that will become clear; and, frankly, ... Read More

White House Issues Long-Delayed Science Guidelines

The Obama administration issued long-awaited, long-delayed guidelines on Friday to insulate government scientific research from political meddling and to base policy decisions on solid data.

Under the guidelines, government scientists are in general free to speak to journalists and the publi... Read More

Three Billion-Year-Old Genomic Fossils Deciphered

About 580 million years ago, life on Earth began a rapid period of change called the Cambrian Explosion, a period defined by the birth of new life forms over many millions of years that ultimately helped bring about the modern diversity of animals. Fossils help palaeontologists chronicle the evo... Read More

The return of swine flu

It should be no surprise that swine flu is back. In recent days there has been a spate of headlines speaking of "shocked" doctors, alarmed by the return of "deadly" swine flu. What should we make of this, and should we be worried?

First off, the H1N1 virus, which sparked a pandemic last year,... Read More

Secrets of common virus that can cause cancer decoded

Scientists at the Duke Cancer Institute have decoded secrets of a very common virus that can cause cancer.

About 90 percent of people are infected at some time in their lives with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), usually with no ill effects.

But individuals with compromised immune systems, such a... Read More

TWiV 112: Creating a killer poxvirus


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On episode 112 of the podcast This Week in Virology, Vincent, Alan, and Rich review the making of a virulent poxvirus by ... Read More

TWiV 112 Letters

Jennie writes:


I love your show very much and this is not my first comment. I load firewood and paint as I listen to you guys, thanks so much for the inspiration over what is becoming years. I'm not an audio learner, though my mind is quite stimulated by what I hear. ... Read More

FDA clears Novavax trial for anti-viral vaccine

Novavax Inc said the U.S. health regulator has given its clearance for an early-stage clinical trial of a vaccine to prevent respiratory syncytial virus infection, sending its shares up 7 percent in premarket trade.

In November, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had put the trial on hold ... Read More

Vaccinating pregnant women reduced newborn influenza hospitalizations

Influenza vaccine administered during pregnancy was 91.5% effective in preventing hospitalizations among infant offspring younger than 6 months, new research shows.

Marietta Vázquez, MD, and colleagues from the Yale University School of Medicine conducted a matched case-control study to deter... Read More

Southern Sudan Battles Worst Kala Azar Outbreak in Eight Years, MSF Says

Southern Sudan is battling to contain the biggest outbreak of the kala azar disease in the region in eight years as it moves toward a Jan. 9 referendum on independence, Medecins Sans Frontieres said.

The severity of the outbreak is just one symptom of the wider medical humanitarian crisis fac... Read More

Vaccine takes sting out of shingles virus

Shingles belong on a house, not your body.

The debilitating and often long-lasting virus -- which triggers shooting pain and a rash around the chest, arm or legs -- is mostly preventable, thanks to a vaccine recommended for all adults 60 and older. Still, nearly 1 million American adults end ... Read More

Researchers Select Microbes to Improve Chocolate

It may seem hard to imagine improving on the world's best chocolates, but that is the goal of a team of microbiologists from the Free University of Brussels, Belgium. Raw cocoa beans have an astringent, unpleasant taste, and must be cured—which involves fermenting the beans—prior to drying and r... Read More

Boosted Vaccine Tops in H1N1 Trial

An adjuvanted split-virion vaccine against the pandemic H1N1 flu out-performed a whole-virion vaccine without the adjuvant, researchers reported.

In a head-to-head test - the first to compare two commercially available flu vaccines -- immune response was faster and more robust for the adjuvan... Read More

Haiti: Cholera Vaccine Pilot Program Recommended

There is enough approved cholera vaccine stockpiled in the world to vaccinate only 50,000 people, a panel of cholera experts convened by the Pan American Health Organization said Friday. Given the shortage, the panel recommended starting a pilot program in Haiti to test vaccination strategies an... Read More

Rise in Oxygen Drove Evolution of Animal Life 550 Million Years Ago

Researchers funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) at the University of Oxford have uncovered a clue that may help to explain why the earliest evidence of complex multicellular animal life appears around 550 million years ago, when atmospheric oxygen levels ... Read More

Special report: The cost of a malaria-free world

Joe Cohen, a scientist tantalizingly close to delivering the world's first malaria vaccine, is on the stump.

After 23 years of painstaking laboratory work and a program of major trials in seven countries, the 67-year-old biologist says the clinical case for the vaccine is almost proved. It's ... Read More

Parasitic worms paint warning colours on their hosts using glowing bacteria

A robin flying over a field sees a juicy caterpillar on a leaf. It dives in for a closer look but it notices something strange: this larva is bright red and glowing slightly. Red means danger – this caterpillar is probably toxic and is best avoided. The robin leaves; the caterpillar apparently l... Read More
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