Archive for May, 2012

Measles — United States, 2011 MMWR

16 May, 2012

See on Scoop.itVirology and Bioinformatics from Virology.ca

“In 2000, the United States achieved measles elimination (defined as interruption of year-round endemic measles transmission) (1). However, importations of measles into the United States continue to occur, posing risks for measles outbreaks and sustained measles transmission. During 2011, a total of 222 measles cases (incidence rate: 0.7 per 1 million population) and 17 measles outbreaks (defined as three or more cases linked in time or place) were reported to CDC, compared with a median of 60 (range: 37–140) cases and four (range: 2–10) outbreaks reported annually during 2001–2010. This report updates an earlier report on measles in the United States during the first 5 months of 2011 (2). Of the 222 cases, 112 (50%) were associated with 17 outbreaks, and 200 (90%) were associated with importations from other countries, including 52 (26%) cases in U.S. residents returning from abroad and 20 (10%) cases in foreign visitors. Other cases associated with importations included 67 (34%) linked epidemiologically to importations, 39 (20%) with virologic evidence suggesting recent importation, and 22 (11%) linked to cases with virologic evidence of recent importation. Most patients (86%) were unvaccinated or had unknown vaccination status.

 

The increased numbers of outbreaks and measles importations into the United States underscore the ongoing risk for measles among unvaccinated persons and the importance of vaccination against measles (3).”

 

Amen!!  It is VERY revealing that so many cases were associated with imported virus infections – 90%!!  And almost HALF of those came from Europe, rather than from some developing country.

 

I thank Linda Stannard for the paramyxovirus EM

See on www.cdc.gov

Journal Virol Methods – A simple, rapid and efficient way to obtain infectious clones of potyviruses

16 May, 2012

See on Scoop.itVirology and Bioinformatics from Virology.ca

“The availability of an infectious cDNA clone is a prerequisite for genetic studies on RNA viruses. However, despite important improvement in molecular biology techniques during the last decades, obtaining such clones often remains tedious, time-consuming and rather unpredictable. In the case of potyviruses, cDNA clones are frequently unstable due to the toxicity of some viral proteins for bacteria. The problem can be overcome by inserting introns into the viral sequence but this requires additional steps in the cloning process and depends on the availability of suitable restriction sites in the viral sequence or adjunction of such sites by mutagenesis. Homologous recombination in yeast rather than in vitro restriction and ligation can be used to build infectious clones or other viral constructs. This paper describes how, by using recombination in yeast and fusion PCR, infectious intron-containing clones were obtained within a few weeks for two strains of watermelon mosaic virus (WMV, Potyvirus), whereas previous attempts using “classical” cloning techniques had failed repeatedly. Using the same approach, intronless infectious clones of two other potyviruses, zucchini yellow mosaic virus (ZYMV) and papaya ringspot virus (PRSV), were obtained in less than two weeks.”

 

I am a sucker for good techniques like this one: long ago I helped invent a technique for idiot-proof cDNA cloning of the 3′ of the genome (Pappu et a., J Virol Methods. 1993 Jan;41(1):9-20), and have kept a watchful eye on potyvirus genome cloning ever since – and it is a challenge, because they are >10kb in length.  This is an elegant solution to an old problem.

See on www.sciencedirect.com

Small Things Considered: Are Phages the Answer?

15 May, 2012

See on Scoop.itVirology News

by S. Marvin Friedman

“The emergence of multiple drug-resistant bacterial strains, the prevalence of recalcitrant biofilm configurations, and the reluctance of the pharmaceutical industry to initiate new antibiotic discovery programs have led to the development of a formidable population of bacterial pathogens that is increasingly difficult to control. After a long but successful era of research that had all but eliminated serious threats from bacterial infections, we are now facing this dire problem once again. In response, researchers have recently been exploring alternative approaches to antibiotic therapy including identifying chemical agents that antagonize quorum sensing and thus prevent population-wide expression of virulence genes, as well as employing either intact bacteriophages or their isolated lysins to directly kill their pathogenic bacterial hosts. Lysins kill Gram-positive bacteria by hydrolyzing the peptidoglycan in the cell wall, thereby causing cell lysis. Gram-negative bacteria are immune to their action because their outer membrane does not allow the lysins access to their peptidoglycan. I will now summarize two recent papers that use intact phages to combat two important bacterial pathogens, both in vitro and in vivo.”

 

As a new-minted phage enthusiast, and a fan of Small Things Considered, I am more than happy to reblog this.  I think phages may well be the answer to multiply- or extreme-resistant bugs, and in the long term will probably prove to be a better answer than antibiotics in general.

 

After all, they can evolve – and penicillin can’t.  Moreover, we can select them out of the environment and then select them rigorously in the lab, to pretty much get anything we want.

 

You gotta love viruses…B-)

See on schaechter.asmblog.org

Apple Goes To Kaspersky For Virus Advice

15 May, 2012

See on Scoop.itVirology News

Apple is no longer the safe choice for computer shoppers as various malicious software downloads have become available over the last several months.

 

I watch and wait nervously….

See on www.inquisitr.com

Taking Truvada to Prevent H.I.V. Also Comes With Risks

15 May, 2012

See on Scoop.itVirology News

Taking Truvada daily can help people in at-risk groups prevent H.I.V. infection, but the consequences of loose adherence go beyond contracting the virus.

A panel of advisers to the Food and Drug Administration took a historic step last week when they recommended that the agency for the first time approve a drug that healthy people can take once a day to prevent H.I.V. infection.
Such a pill has long been a goal of research, something that might help stem a global epidemic that is still causing two million new worldwide cases each year, including 50,000 in the United States.

But the panel members worried about how to make sure doctors and patients would use the drug correctly. Otherwise, they said, the potential harm could be huge — not just to those taking the pill, but also to their sexual partners.

 

While this is a very important step towards preventing HIV infection, it is equally important to remember that it IS only a step – and not the final solution.  Condoms remain the better option, in that a barrier is better than a drug; however, the chemical option may help curb the spread of the virus where other measures have not.

 

Until we get vaccines!!

See on www.nytimes.com

Shingles Vaccine Deemed Safe in Large Study

11 May, 2012

See on Scoop.itVirology News

The shingles vaccine is “generally safe and well tolerated,” according to a study of nearly 200,000 patients.

Shingles, or herpes zoster, is a painful rash caused by reactivation of chickenpox virus that has remained dormant in the body. Up to 1 million Americans, more than half of whom are 60 or older, are diagnosed with shingles every year, the researchers write.

Researchers analyzed data of 193,083 vaccinated patients aged 50 or older for certain side effects that could be related to the shingles vaccine.

The researchers found no increased risk in the first six weeks after vaccination for stroke, heart disease, infections of the brain or spinal cord or other brain diseases, Bell’s palsy, or Ramsay-Hunt syndrome, which can occur when the virus that causes shingles affects the facial nerve near an ear.

An increased risk of allergic reaction was found in the first week after receiving the shingles vaccine.

A majority of these reactions involved an inflammatory response at the injection site, involving symptoms such as redness, swelling, and mild pain.

See on www.webmd.com

Ostrich culling almost complete

11 May, 2012

See on Scoop.itVirology News

“CAPE TOWN – The Western Cape Agriculture Department on Monday said it planned to complete the culling of ostriches affected by bird flu in the Karoo by the end of this week.

Agriculture MEC Gerrit van Reinsburg met with industry players in Oudtshoorn earlier.

More than 40,000 ostriches have been culled since the initial outbreak of avian influenza in March 2011.

The European Union also imposed a ban on South African ostrich exports at a cost of hundreds of millions of rand to affected farmers.

The EU imported 90 percent of South Africa’s ostrich meat.

The department’s Wouter Kriel said, “The Department of Agriculture will conclude the culling operation that has been ongoing for the past year in the ostrich industry. The last 360 ostriches will be culled this week.”

The department said it would monitor the area carefully in the following weeks.

The department will in the next three months apply to the EU for the resumption of ostrich exports.

According to the department, the entire Klein Karoo Valley, home to about 70 percent of the country’s ostrich industry, was affected by the outbreak.

The affected farmers received R50 million in compensation from the national government.”

 

And you know why they have to cull them, when there ARE vaccines available?  Because the EU does not like ostriches with antibodies to influenza viruses.  Because they steadfastly refuse to step into the 21st century, and allow use of tests which disciminate vaccinated and infected birds.

See on www.eyewitnessnews.co.za

FDA advisers back first drug to prevent HIV – AIDS/HIV -Drug News –

11 May, 2012

See on Scoop.itVirology News

The first drug shown to prevent HIV infection won the endorsement of a panel of federal advisers Thursday, clearing the way for a landmark approval in the 30-year fight against the virus that causes AIDS.

In a series of votes, a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel recommended approval of the daily pill Truvada for healthy people who are at high risk of contracting HIV, including gay and bisexual men and heterosexual couples with one HIV-positive partner.

The FDA is not required to follow the panel’s advice, though it usually does. A final decision is expected by June 15.

Read more: FDA advisers back first drug to prevent HIV – AIDS/HIV -Drug News – http://www.health.am/ab/more/fda-advisers-back-first-drug-to-prevent-hiv/#ixzz1uYkFqEmo

See on www.health.am

ScienceDirect.com – Virus Research – Genomic characterization of seven distinct bat coronaviruses in Kenya

8 May, 2012

See on Scoop.itVirology News

“To better understand the genetic diversity and genomic features of 41 coronaviruses (CoVs) identified from Kenya bats in 2006, seven CoVs as representatives of seven different phylogenetic groups identified from partial polymerase gene sequences, were subjected to extensive genomic sequencing. As a result, 15–16 kb nucleotide sequences encoding complete RNA dependent RNA polymerase, spike, envelope, membrane, and nucleocapsid proteins plus other open reading frames (ORFs) were generated. Sequences analysis confirmed that the CoVs from Kenya bats are divergent members of Alphacoronavirus and Betacoronavirus genera. Furthermore, the CoVs BtKY22, BtKY41, and BtKY43 in Alphacoronavirus genus and BtKY24 in Betacoronavirus genus are likely representatives of 4 novel CoV species. BtKY27 and BtKY33 are members of the established bat CoV species in Alphacoronavirus genus and BtKY06 is a member of the established bat CoV species in Betacoronavirus genus. The genome organization of these seven CoVs is similar to other known CoVs from the same groups except for differences in the number of putative ORFs following the N gene. The present results confirm a significant diversity of CoVs circulating in Kenya bats. These Kenya bat CoVs are phylogenetically distant from any previously described human and animal CoVs. However, because of the examples of host switching among CoVs after relatively minor sequence changes in S1 domain of spike protein, a further surveillance in animal reservoirs and understanding the interface between host susceptibility is critical for predicting and preventing the potential threat of bat CoVs to public health.”

 

We need to start worrying about MORE viruses from bats??  I knew those caves were a bad idea….

Graphic from Russell Kightley Media

See on www.sciencedirect.com

Protalix Soars on FDA Approval of Gaucher Drug: Tel Aviv Mover

7 May, 2012

See on Scoop.itVirology News

“Protalix BioTherapeutics Inc. soared in Tel Aviv trading after the biopharmaceutical company’s first product won approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Protalix expects approval to sell its Gaucher disease drug in Israel soon, Aviezer said. Israel has at least 500 patients affected with the illness, he said. The company also is awaiting a regulatory decision in the European Union.
“This is a biotechnology milestone as it it the first time the FDA has approved a product that was engineered in plant cells, as opposed to mammalian or bacterial-based systems,” Yoav Kedar, a biotechnology consultant for Clal Finance Brokerage Ltd., said in an interview. “The approval will better position the company to receive approvals in Europe, Israel and Brazil.”
Gaucher disease can cause fat to build up in the liver, spleen, bone marrow and nervous system. About 1 in 14 individuals of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry carries the mutated gene that can cause the illness, and as many as 1 in 500 present a form of the disorder.”

 

This is a seriously big deal, and I have blogged on it here before: this is a plant-made bio-better, now licenced for human use as a therapeutic ofr a nasty genetic disease.  It should compete well, given that other offerings are made in mammalian cells – and one manufacturer’s output was recently shut down completely due to a viral infection of their cell cultures, which is what led to accelerated approval for Protalix’s product.

 

Going green…you know the rest.

See on www.bloomberg.com