Tag Archives: virus

Genetically engineered, highly contagious strain of H5N1 causes controversy

Scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands, working independently, have found a way to genetically engineer H5N1, the avian bird flu, to make it highly contagious to humans. Ron Fouchier, the Dutch scientist, created the virus in a lab and then infected ferrets, which transmit diseases to each other similar to the way humans do. (A ferret infected with the virus could cause another ferret housed in the same cage to get sick simply by being nearby.)

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New study in mice provides hope for HIV vaccine

Scientists have been trying for years to create a vaccine against HIV, and a group of researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) may have hit upon a huge discovery. Their study, reported Nov. 30 in the journal Nature, shows that mice were resistant to HIV after they were injected with the DNA for an HIV-neutralizing antibody. Mice aren’t capable of being infected with HIV, so they were genetically altered to carry human immune system cells.

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Does rabies have an Achilles heel?

Recently, some research showed that the rabies virus may not be as uniformly deadly as we’ve always thought. The now-famous “Milwaukee Protocol,” which involves a medically-induced coma (among other things) to support the patient while their body fights off the virus and was credited for the survival of 5 people with rabies, has not been successful when used on at least 30 other people with rabies. Why? Possible explanations include infection with a weaker strain of the rabies virus; and strong immune responses that more successfully fought off the virus in these patients than in others. Apparently, the blood-brain barrier, which is a specialized feature of the blood vessels in the brain, may play a key role in the body’s (and brain’s) ability to successfully get rid of the virus.

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Connecting the dots

It was a veterinary pathologist who first figured out that the deaths of crows in New York and the illnesses in people were related and were due to infection with the West Nile Virus.

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Viral monkey business

Viruses have been around as long as we have, and even longer…and they continue to evolve.  Scientists have discovered three new AIDS-like viruses in monkeys in Uganda.  Their research suggests that the monkeys and the viruses evolved together, and may shed light on the evolution of the AIDS virus as well as some others.

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