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The Extra Pounds You Can't Afford to Lose: An Interview With Microbiologist Margaret McFall-Ngai

Recent revelations about our microscopic partners and tenants are numerically startling, if not downright existential. Try these for starters: Most of the cells within your body are not human cells, and you are literally teeming with pounds of busy microbes, working to earn their keep while you ... Read More

Microbiologist Uses Viruses to Fight Bacteria

After a decade of research, ContraFect Corporation, a small biotech company based in Yonkers, N.Y., is preparing to test bacteriophages—viruses that infect and destroy bacteria—in people as a potential alternative to overused antibiotics for treating and preventing bacterial infections. The firs... Read More

Slow-Motion Microbes Still Living off Dino-era "Lunch Box"

Buried under the seafloor for 86 million years, a bacterial community lives so slowly it's still surviving on a "lunch box" from dinosaur days, a new study says. (See marine-microbe pictures.)

It's been known since the 1990s that microbes can live trapped in ocean sediments for millions of ye... Read More

Kids Have Little Protection from New Flu Virus

Children younger than 10 likely will be the most susceptible if a variant of the influenza A (H3N2) virus -- dubbed A (H3N2)v -- develops the ability to transmit easily among humans, researchers found.

Since August 2011, there have been 12 cases of infection with the variant -- which contains... Read More

US Students Need New Way of Learning Science

American students need a dramatically new approach to improve how they learn science, says a noted group of scientists and educators led by Michigan State University professor William Schmidt.

After six years of work, the group has proposed a solution. The 8+1 Science concept calls for a rad... Read More

Built-in dengue virus killer found in humans

Scientists may have hit gold in their fight against dengue. They have located a human antibody that can neutralise and kill its virus within two hours.

Significantly, they have also identified a way to reproduce this antibody in large quantities, potentially opening the door to a cure for den... Read More

Rapamycin, Easter Island Drug, Shows Promise In Boosting Aging Brain, Mice Study Shows

Scientists at the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio are investigating a potential new drug that could improve learning and memory during aging -- thanks to Easter Island?

The drug, called rapamycin, comes from isolated bacterial products in the soil of the Polynesian islan... Read More

TWiV 180 Letters

Rohit writes:


Hi Dr Racaniello,


I am a long time listener of TWIV and really enjoy the informal scientific discussions. I listen to TWIV while working in the lab and am trying to catch up on TWIM and TWIP episodes too.


I have been dill... Read More

Engineering Life to Survive on Mars and Aid Human Colonization

With NASA’s Curiosity Rover safely on Mars and ready to search for signs of life, back on Earth attempts are underway to engineer bacteria that could thrive on the Red Planet.

A team of undergraduates from Stanford and Brown Universities are busy applying synthetic biology to space exploratio... Read More

EP67 Protein May Prevent Flu By Boosting Immune System, Mouse Study Suggests

Scientists may have pinpointed a potential way to prevent the flu by identifying a protein that amps up the immune system, according to a new animal study.

The synthetic protein, called EP67, is able to trigger an immune response to the "threat" of the flu virus within a couple of hours in mi... Read More

Sheets of virus generate electricity when squished

Squishing a stack of virus sheets generates enough electricity to power a small liquid crystal display. With increased power output, these virus films might one day use the beating of your heart to power a pacemaker, the researchers behind them say.

Piezoelectric materials build up charge whe... Read More

Worm kills insects by vomiting Hulk-like bacteria

Insects have been around for almost 400 million years. That’s plenty of time for evolution to fashion countless horrific deaths for them. Case in point: some insects die because a little worm vomits glowing bacteria inside their bodies.

The worm is Heterorhabditis bacteriophora, a microscopic... Read More

19th Century Shipwreck Beer Could Be Recreated

Beer discovered two years ago onboard a shipwreck from the mid-1800s could possibly be recreated using living bacteria discovered in the brew, Finnish researchers announced last Thursday.

According to Terhi Kinnunen of Reuters, Annika Wilhelmson from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland s... Read More

Building the perfect bug

This past February I was interviewed by the Australian Broadcasting Company on the topic of the Fouchier and Kawaoka experiments on avian influenza virus H5N1. The video, Building the Perfect Bug, has been released by Journeyman Pictures and includes interviews with S.T. Lai, Laurie Garrett, Mic... Read More

100 trillion good bacteria call human body home

In the search for new life, scientists have studied the depths of the ocean and the lips of steaming volcanoes. They've looked on Mars and the moons of Jupiter, and even planets beyond this solar system.

Dr. David Relman went searching inside his own mouth. On a routine dental visit in 1998, ... Read More

Replication of immunodeficiency virus in humans

The acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) pandemic is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1), which attacks the immune system and leaves infected individuals susceptible to opportunistic infections. AIDS and HIV-1 are thought to have a relatively short history in humans, with the... Read More

Friendly Fungi: Elucidating the fungal biosynthesis of stipitatic acid

In a tale worthy of Sherlock Holmes, scientists in the School of Chemistry at the University of Bristol, UK have solved a biochemical mystery that had previously proven elusive for 70 years: How the fungus Talaromyces stipitatus produces stipitatic acid (6), which is a tropolone, one of an atypi... Read More

London prepares for Olympian disease-monitoring task

As the world’s athletes limber up for the forthcoming Olympic games in London, infectious-disease experts are preparing for their own trials. Their competition is with the diseases that millions of athletes, officials, media and spectators bring with them as they converge from across the globe o... Read More

How hosts recognize bacteria

We are surrounded by bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. The fact that we nevertheless do not fall prey to infections is thanks to certain cellular sensor molecules such as toll-like receptors (TLR), which recognize the molecular structure of pathogens and intercede by ensuring an often comp... Read More

Bacterial Vaginosis Is Associated with Higher Risk of Female-to-Male Transmission of HIV

An investigation led by UCSF has found that the risk of female-to-male HIV transmission is increased three fold for women with bacterial vaginosis, a common disorder in which the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina is disrupted.

The new research assessed the association between bacterial... Read More
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