Archive for October 17th, 2012

Together, we can do more….

17 October, 2012

It gives me great delight to pass on some news about an old friend: I have co-authored two papers with the Pappus (husband and wife), and have maintained a long association with Hanu as a favoured referee for Archives of Virology; he has gone on to achieve some distinction at Washington State University – and recently to have made a fundamental discovery in plant virology.  I thank Eric Sorenson of the Washington State Magazine for sending me this.

Viral alliances overcome plant defenses, according to newly published WSU research

Hanu Pappu, professor and chair of plant pathology, Washington State University, 509-335-3752,

PULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State University researchers have found that viruses will join forces to overcome a plant’s defenses and cause more severe infections.

“These findings have important implications in our ability to control these viruses,” says Hanu Pappu, Sam Smith Distinguished Professor of Plant Virology and chair of WSU’s Department of Plant Pathology. “Mixed infections are quite common in the field, and now we know that viruses in these mixed infections are helping each other at the genetic level to overcome host defenses and possibly lead to the generation of new viruses.”

Pappu publishes his findings in the latest issue of the journal PLOS ONE. Joining him are Ph.D. student Sudeep Bag and Neena Mitter, associate professor at Australia’s University of Queensland.

The researchers focused on iris yellow spot virus and tomato spotted wilt virus after Bag discovered that, when they infect the same plant, they helped each other overcome a plant’s defense response. With Mitter’s help and sophisticated molecular techniques, Bag found both viruses dramatically changed their genetic expression, breaking down the plant’s defenses and leading to more severe disease.

Bag also found that genes from the tomato spotted wilt virus seemed to “aid and abet” iris yellow spot virus as it spread throughout the plant and caused more disease.

Growers should take this phenomenon into account, says Pappu, with broader management tactics that target more than one virus and possible variations.

The research was funded in part by the Specialty Crops Research Initiative of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, a branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The paper, “Complementation between Two Tospoviruses Facilitates the Systemic Movement of a Plant Virus Silencing Suppressor in an Otherwise Restrictive Host,” can be found at

PS: the Pappus cook REALLY good food – as I discovered in Florida, at Chuck Niblett’s house, back in 1996 or so….

Anti-vaccine movement causes the worst whooping cough epidemic in 70 years [in the US]

17 October, 2012

See on Scoop.itVirology News

The great northwest of the known for its natural beauty.  It’s also a high-tech region with a highly educated public – …(To vaccinate, or not to vaccinate…a report that suggests you should:

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Major breakthrough in HIV prevention

17 October, 2012

See on Scoop.itVirology News

MELBOURNE researchers have developed cows’ milk that can defend human cells against HIV.

Lead researcher, University of Melbourne’s Marit Kramski said they vaccinated pregnant cows – which cannot contract human immunodeficiency virus – with an HIV protein [Env?] and studied the first milk produced by the cow after birth.

HIV cases in Australia on the rise

Dr Kramski said this first milk, called colostrum, produced milk high in antibodies to protect its newborn against disease.

The researchers were able to inhibit the virus from infecting cells when “combing the virus cells with milk” [sic – I think they mean combining the virus with milk containing antibodies].


I think this is very interesting, and has potential for trial in monkeys – not humans, because there is the little problem of the antibodies that would go into a virucidal cream being from cows – meaning they would elicit an immune response, unlike the humanised anti-HIV monoclonals being made in plants by the Fraunhofer Institute.


Still, using cow’s milk is an inventive thing to do – and sounds like a very cheap source of antibodies.  Except that colostrum is ONLY produced immediately after birth of a calf, so it will nothing like as cheap as milk.

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