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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

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

Evolutionary Lessons From Superbugs

Virulent drug-resistant "superbugs" are back in the news. We have a lot to learn from these small but smart creatures. To the dismay of many in the pubic health field, the FDA just dropped plans to enforce a 1977(!) decision to limit the use of antibiotics in animal feed, which facilitates the e... 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

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

TWiV 165 Letters

Justin writes:


Are you, Alan Dove and Prof. Racaniello, saying you think Mikovits and/or others on the Lombardi paper lied about the results or blinding? I think circumspection is a natural human reaction to the allegations of theft that have been made against Dr. Mik... 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

Controversial 'bird flu' edits move ahead

Top US scientists on Wednesday defended their bid to stop details of a mutant bird flu virus from being published and called for global cooperation to ward off an uncontrollable pandemic.

Meanwhile, scientists involved in the experiments said they are cooperating with government officials and... Read More

Yankee ‘invaders’ threaten UK’s crayfish

Better resistance to parasites and a less fussy diet are allowing aggressive signal crayfish from the US to threaten white-clawed crayfish native to Yorkshire.

The Yorkshire crayfish suffers from two parasites: plague, which is carried by the American invader, and porcelain disease that makes... Read More

Bushmeat can be a viral feast

Monkeys and apes are considered edible game in many parts of Africa. As people from these regions have emigrated to other parts of the world, some have retained their love of this and other types of bushmeat. A new study now finds that meat from nonhuman primates — from chimps to monkeys — can h... Read More

TWiV 163 Letters

Ronnie writes:


Hello Professor Vincent,


First of all, thank you for your wonderful podcasts! I'm a CFS sufferer and also a student Applied Science so I'm interested in many of the topics discussed for those two reasons and always learning new things.


I... Read More

New bug eats sulfates, makes two kinds of magnet

A bacterium recently discovered near Death Valley has some very unusual properties according to a report published in the December 23 issue of Science magazine. While some ‘bugs’ are like migratory birds, making tiny magnets that they use to guide their navigation, this is the first bacterium to... Read More

Scientists Tweak Photosynthesis in Pursuit of a Better Biofuel

By altering how plants turn sunlight into chemical energy, scientists hope to produce biofuels that make economic sense.

For years researchers have been trying to figure out the best ways of making plants produce biofuels. But there is a funda­mental problem: photosynthesis, the process by wh... Read More

Norton Zinder, 1928-2012

Norton Zinder made two important discoveries in the field of virology. While a Ph.D. student with Joshua Lederberg at the University of Wisconsin-Madison he found that viruses of bacteria (bacteriophages) could move genes from one host to another, a process called transduction. Later in his own ... 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

TWiV 172 Letters

Greg writes:


Dear TWiV,


The epidemiology episode with Michael Walsh was great. I loved the philosophical detour into counterfactual statements, time travel, and the meaning of causation. TWiV may indeed be viral, but from listening to it I fee... Read More

Science Friday: Debate Persists Over Publishing Bird Flu Studies (Live at 2pm ET)

Ira Flatow of Science Friday will host a panel discussion on the issues surrounding a federal advisory board that has urged scientific journals not to publish the research from two labs that have developed an airborne bird flu virus (H5N1). Virologist Vincent Racaniello and Biosecurity expert D.... Read More

Study Shows First N.C. Case of Feral Pig Exposure to Nasty Bacteria

A North Carolina State University study shows that, for the first time since testing began several years ago, feral pigs in North Carolina have tested positive for Brucella suis, an important and harmful bacteria that can be transmitted to people.

The bacteria are transmitted to humans by uns... 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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