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TWiM 55 Letters


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WHO: H7N9 virus 'one of the most lethal so far'

As the death toll from China's bird flu outbreak rose to 22 with news of another victim in eastern Zhejiang Province, the World Health Organization warned the H7N9 virus was one of the most lethal that doctors and medical investigators had faced in recent years.

"This is an unusually dangerou... Read More

Iron in Primeval Seas Rusted by Bacteria

Researchers from the University of Tübingen have been able to show for the first time how microorganisms contributed to the formation of the world's biggest iron ore deposits. The biggest known deposits -- in South Africa and Australia -- are geological formations billions of years old. They are... Read More

Is There Evidence of a Supernova in the Fossils of Ancient Bacteria?

Back when the Time Lord and I were still engaged, we went shopping for wedding rings. He only had one criteria: he wanted his ring to be made of platinum or a similar material forged in a supernova. It’s not quite as exotic as it sounds: most heavy elements were formed in supernovae, via a proce... Read More

Battling With Bugs to Prevent Antibiotic Resistance

New scientific research published today in the journal PLoS Biology shows that bacteria can evolve resistance more quickly when stronger antibiotics are used.

Researchers from the University of Exeter and Kiel University in Germany treated E. coli with different combinations of antibiotics in... Read More

H7N9 is a virus worth worrying about

Warnings about the emergence of another influenza virus may elicit scepticism, but we should not be complacent, cautions Peter Horby.

Once again an animal influenza A virus has crossed the species barrier to cause an appreciable number of human cases. Now, two months after the first known hum... Read More

Holy Virus Treasure Trove, Batman!

Think about the type of animal that would make an ideal host for a virus. It would gather in large dense groups, making it easier for the virus to jump into fresh hosts. It should have a relatively long lifespan, so any single individual has many chances of becoming infected. It would certainly ... Read More

Contact killing of Salmonella by human faecal bacteria

Our gut is home to trillions of bacteria, numbering more than the cells in the rest of our body, and these bacteria help us to digest our food, absorb nutrients and strengthen our immune system. This complex bacterial ecosystem, called the gut microbiota, also helps to prevent bad bacteria from ... Read More

Radioactive bacteria attack cancer

Two dangerous things together might make a medicine for one of the hardest cancers to treat. In a mouse model of pancreatic cancer, researchers have shown that bacteria can deliver deadly radiation to tumours — exploiting the immune suppression that normally makes the disease so intractable.

... Read More

Gut Microbe Makes Diesel Biofuel

Reconfiguring the genetics of the food pathogen E. coli produces hydrocarbons indistinguishable from those burned in trucks. Welding bits and pieces from various microbes and the camphor tree into the genetic code of Escherichia coli has allowed scientists to convince the stomach bug to produce... Read More

Bacteria may contribute to premature births, STDs

New research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis points to a common species of bacteria as an important contributor to bacterial vaginosis, a condition linked to preterm birth and increased risk of sexually transmitted diseases.

The condition affects one in every three wo... Read More

E. coli Cells Face FACS and Get Back into Shape

There’s no question that variation in size and shape has conferred selective advantages over the course of evolutionary time. One of the most obvious examples is the long neck and legs of the giraffe, which allow it to snatch foliage that is unreachable by vertically challenged competitors. The ... Read More

New study shows how Salmonella colonises the gut

Salmonella is a major cause of human diarrhoeal infections and is frequently acquired from chickens, pigs and cattle, or their products. Around 94 million such infections occur in people worldwide each year, with approximately 50,000 cases in the UK per annum.

In a BBSRC-funded collaboration ... Read More

High-powered microscopic techniques give scientists detailed view of a critical component of cellular infrastructure

The cellular interior is criss-crossed by protein-based cables known as microtubules, each formed from 13 'protofilaments' composed of the protein tubulin. Microtubules are also associated with a host of other specialized proteins that help coordinate the transport of molecular cargoes and link ... Read More

Genital Wart Rate in Young Women Plummets Thanks to HPV Vaccine, Claim Researchers

The proportion of young women diagnosed with genital warts in Australia has seen a significant decline thanks to the HPV vaccine, suggests a new paper. In 2007, Australia became one of the first countries to implement a nationally funded quadrivalent human papillomarivus (HPV) vaccination progra... Read More

Despite Superbug Crisis, Progress in Antibiotic Development 'Alarmingly Elusive'

Despite the desperate need for new antibiotics to combat increasingly deadly resistant bacteria, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved only one new systemic antibiotic since the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) launched its 10 x ’20 Initiative in 2010 — and that d... Read More

Recreational use of HIV antiretroviral drug linked to its psychoactivity

Efavirenz (tradenames: Sustiva, Stocrin) is an antiretroviral (ARV) drug commonly used to treat HIV. Its popularity as a medication, alone or more commonly in combination with other HIV medications (tradename: Atripla), is due to its superior effectiveness in suppressing replication of the virus... Read More

Hilary Koprowski, Who Developed First Live-Virus Polio Vaccine, Dies at 96

It was a brew to rival any in “Macbeth.” The main ingredients were rat brain and a fearsome, carefully cultivated virus.

In his laboratory in Pearl River, N.Y., 20 miles north of Manhattan, Dr. Hilary Koprowski macerated the ingredients in an ordinary kitchen blender one January day in 1948. ... Read More

Beer Pong Balls Carry Bacteria, Proving Game Disgusting

Clemson University researchers found that beer pong balls may carry dangerous bacteria, The Associated Press reported.

The balls collected by student researchers from parties over one weekend found salmonella, listeria, E. coli and staph, according to the AP. The study found a high level of b... Read More

TWiV 229: Partly cloudy with a high of H7N9



Hosts: Vincent Racaniello, Rich Condit, Read More

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