The influenza virus particle is made up of the viral RNA genome wrapped in a lipid membrane (illustrated). The membrane, or envelope, contains three different kinds of viral proteins. The hemagglutinin molecule (HA, blue) attaches to cell receptors and initiates the process of virus entry into c... Read More
There are many reasons why bacteria evolve resistance to antibacterials, but one of the preventable reasons is the over-prescription of antibacterials to patients who don't have bacterial infections. But how to get people to stop asking for antibacterials? My suggestion is to stop using the wor... Read More
If you teach students about viruses and bacteria, recent episodes of The Walking Dead have been using the term "antibiotic" to stand for antivirals. Since students are probably watching the show, it might be a good time to highlight the mistake. I summarized the issues at the associated URL (ht... Read More
Virologist John Holland passed away on 11 October 2013. I asked former members of his laboratory for their thoughts on his career and what he meant to them. Read More
The SARS pandemic of 2002-2003 is believed to have been caused by a bat coronavirus (CoV) that first infected a civet and then was passed on to humans. The isolation of a new SARS-like coronavirus from bats suggests that the virus could have directly infected humans. Read More
Neisseria meningitidis may cause septicemia (bacteria in the blood) and meningitis (infection of the membrane surrounding the brain), but the bacterium colonizes the nasopharynx in 10-20% of the human population without causing disease. Although understanding how the bacterium changes from a com... Read More
As a virologist who has worked on poliovirus since 1979, I would be remiss if I did not note that today, 24 October, is World Polio Day. World Polio Day was established by Rotary International over a decade ago to commemorate the birth of Jonas Salk, who led the first team to develop a vaccine a... Read More
Hepatitis B virus (HBV, illustrated) is a substantial human pathogen. WHO estimates that there are now 240,000,000 individuals chronically infected with HBV worldwide, of which 25% will die from chronic liver disease or hepatocellular carcinoma. The hepatitis B virus vaccine is highly effective ... Read More
Popular Science has just launched a new science blogging network with 13 blogs. Among them are two that have a focus on microbiology, Under the Microscope by JA Tetro and Our Modern Plague by Brooke Borel. Each blog has an inaugural post that outlines the author's vision for future subject matte... Read More
We have been using HeLa cells in my laboratory since 1982, when I arrived at Columbia University Medical Center fresh from postdoctoral work with David Baltimore at MIT. I brought with me a line of HeLa cells and used them for 30 years for our research on viruses. Here is a story of how we lost ... Read More
This episode: Slime mold cells carry bacteria with them, some for food and some for chemical warfare!
Researchers examined samples from the brains of patients with and without dementia and found lipopolysaccharide, a component of Porphyromonas gingivalis, an oral bacterium, in four out of 10 Alzheimer’s disease brain samples.
“This clearly shows that there is an association between oral bacte... Read More
The stability of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) was determined at 20°C – 40% relative humidity (RH); 30°C – 30% RH and 30°C – 80% RH. MERS-CoV was more stable at low temperature/low humidity conditions and could still be recovered after 48 hours. During aerosolisation of... Read More
When I began listening to TWIV almost a year ago, I had just switched majors from philosophy to biology. I am now writing to you good people at TWIM at the end of my first undergraduate summer research gig, where I have had qui... Read More
When virologists Fouchier and Kawaoka were isolating avian influenza H5N1 viruses that could transmit among ferrets by aerosol, there was consternation from some quarters that such viruses might escape from the laboratory and cause a pandemic in humans. Part of the fear came from the fact that t... Read More
This episode: Pathogen's CRISPR-Cas system (for defense against viruses) can be modified to change gene expression in mammals!