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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

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

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 Go Rafting on Floating Volcanic Rocks

Volcanoes bring death and destruction, but out of the ashes life soon finds fertile ground. A unique experiment is sifting through floating debris from an ongoing volcanic event to see how microbes move in. The results may help in assessing a recent hypothesis that the first life forms may have ... 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

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

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

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

TWiM 36 Letters

Todd writes:

Just a quick note to say how much I enjoy TWiM, and in particular, how much I enjoyed episode 32 featuring Rosie Redfield. I don't know how you find time to do this, but I'm gl... 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

Kawaoka paper published on aerosol transmission of H5 influenza virus in ferrets

One of two papers on avian influenza H5N1 virus that caused such a furor in the past six months was published today in the journal Nature. I have read it, and I can assure you that the results do not enable the construction of a deadly biological weapon. Instead, they illuminate important requir... 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

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

Knight Science Journalism Tracker review of TWiM Episode 32 with Rosie Redfield

"Take a listen to four very savvy and plain-talking biologists chatting on their business at an inside-the-academy site called This Week in Microbiology, and more specifically at episode TWiM 32. There host and Columbia U. faculty member Vincent Racaniello and two colleagues talk of arsenic and ... Read More

TWiV 177 Letters

John writes:


Dear TWIVvers,


In TWIV 173, you talked about a study on antibody levels to bird flu (H5N1) in various populations, and related this to infections that don't cause serious enough illness to send someone to the hospital, or perhaps to get them teste... Read More

Cyanobacterium demonstrates promise for biotechnology feedstock production

Harvard Medical School researchers have engineered a photosynthetic cyanobacterium to boost sugar production, as a first step towards potential commercial production of biofuels and other biotechnologically and industrially useful carbon compounds. As feedstock producers, cyanobacteria have adva... Read More

Small Comfort: Nanomedicine Able to Penetrate Bodily Defenses

Researchers use stealthy nanoscale particles to infiltrate vaginal mucus and keep herpes at bay in mice.

Tears and a runny nose can be unpleasant on a windy day, but these mucosal secretions play a vital role in protecting the body from viruses and other malicious microbes. Unfortunately, muc... Read More

Air pollution and tuberculosis may be connected

In a new study, scientists have determined a possible link between exposure to a common component of urban air pollution and a change in the function of important immune cells that protect against the bacteria that cause tuberculosis.

In their finding, a team of researchers, led by Dr. Steph... Read More

Ultra high-res images with no-lens microscope

A new electron microscope that works without a lens may create the highest resolution images ever seen.

Transmission electron microscopy (TEM), which looks through an object to see atomic features within it, has been constrained for over 70 years by the relatively poor lenses that are used to... Read More

A mad cow in America

A dairy cow in California is the fourth known American case of mad cow disease, which is caused by prions, infectious agents composed only of protein (the story hit the press the day after my lecture on this type of illness). Unlike viruses, prions have no nucleic acid and no protective coat. Bu... Read More

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