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Small fragments of viral nucleic acid cross borders in monkey meat

The finding of viral nucleic acid sequences in illegally imported wildlife products has attracted the attention of the New York Times, which published an article entitled From the jungle to J.F.K., viruses cross borders in monkey meat. 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

A Tale of Two Viruses: Why AIDS Was Pinned to HIV, but Chronic Fatigue Remains a Mystery

The detection of a new virus called XMRV in the blood of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) in 2009 raised hope that a long-sought cause of the disease, whose central characteristic is extreme tiredness that lasts for at least six months, had been finally found. But that hypothesis has... 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

Should Doctors Fire Their Anti-Vaccine Patients?

The anti-vaccination movement continues to grow, despite the retraction and thorough discrediting of the 1998 scientific study that spurred much of its growth. The stubborn persistence of anti-vaxxers shows how difficult it is to dispel misinformation once that information is out there, even af... Read More

Scientists: 10,000 germ species can live in/on healthy people

They live on your skin, up your nose, in your gut - enough bacteria, fungi and other microbes that collected together could weigh, amazingly, a few pounds.

Now scientists have mapped just which critters normally live in or on us and where, calculating that healthy people can share their bodi... Read More

Expert Panel To Give Controversial Bird Flu Research A Second Look

Two controversial studies on bird flu will once again be reviewed by an expert committee that advises the government on what to do with biological research that could pose potential dangers.

The move is just the latest development in a fierce ongoing debate about genetically altered flu virus... Read More

Bacteria-Killing Viruses Wield an Iron Spike

Forget needles in haystacks. Try finding the tip of a needle in a virus. Scientists have long known that a group of viruses called bacteriophages have a knack for infiltrating bacteria and that some begin their attack with a protein spike. But the tip of this spike is so small that no one knew w... 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

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

As a biological weapon, H5N1 is for the birds (Opinion)

Reuters columnist Peter Christian Hall believes the possibility that H5N1 could be effectively weaponized is remote and there is more harm than good in withholding data from two research papers that outline the methods to create an aerosolized strain of avian flu in ferrets.

"Amid the furor ... Read More

Life's Most Amazing Invisible Secrets

One of my heroes, evolutionary microbiologist Lynn Margulis, died this past Thanksgiving. She was an amazing lady who was married to Carl Sagan for many years, and partnered with James Lovelock in discovering that the earth is an interconnected living global ecosystem run largely by microbes. Sh... 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

In First, Software Emulates Lifespan of Entire Organism

Scientists at Stanford University and the J. Craig Venter Institute have developed the first software simulation of an entire organism, a humble single-cell bacterium that lives in the human genital and respiratory tracts.

The scientists and other experts said the work was a giant step toward... 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

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

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

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

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