Archive for February 7th, 2014

Eat your vaccines

7 February, 2014

See on Scoop.itVirology and Bioinformatics from

Vaccines have been revolutionary in medicine, but why are they not used in some parts of the world and how can they be improved? …

Ouch! Wouldn’t it be great if instead of a jab with a needle, you could just eat a vaccine instead? Luckily, researchers at the University of California agree, and their attempts to use algae to produce an edible malaria vaccine is just one example of the many strides forward scientists are taking in vaccine research.

Ed Rybicki‘s insight:

I love these idealistic but naive statements about how plant-production-of-vaccines-will-let us-get-away-from-needles: very 1990s; a little out of touch with modern realities – unfortunately!

The facts are that any edible (read: oral) vaccine will have to be regulated as tightly as an injectable, in terms of dose and administration.

Really: giving too little OR too much; giving it too often or not often enough; giving a product that has not been QCed or checked for potency  after storage…is suicide, in the vaccine world.

Even if it IS safe enough to eat.

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RNA sequencing of 750-year-old barley virus sheds new light on the Crusades

7 February, 2014

See on Scoop.itVirology News

Scientists have for the first time sequenced an ancient RNA genome – of a barley virus once believed to be only 150 years old – pushing its origin back at least 2,000 years and revealing how intense farming at the time of the Crusades contributed to its spread.

Ed Rybicki‘s insight:

This is a good report about a VERY interesting finding – with one flaw.  They go on, apparently, about how BSMV is a "new virus": why would anyone think that?  Since the late 1980s, Adrian Gibbs and others have pointed out that tobamoviruses are probably ancient; just because RNA CAN evolve fast doesn’t mean it does, in terms of encoding functional elements.  Gibbs showed this for plant viruses; it has also been done for the HIV/SIV complex, where it is shown that a similar divergence in sequence among theses viruses to all animals since the Cretaceous, has led to NO changes in morphology, or gene function.

The simple fact is that having "plastic" genome in comparison to eukaryotic cells does NOT mean that ssRNA viruses may not be ancient.

Having said all that, it really is a tour de force to have sequenced a virus that old – aided by the fact, I am sure, that BSMV is hardy little beast, with a really stable vision.

Now, to find those hundred-year-old maize leaves put away with maize streak virus symptoms….B-)

Thanks to @Elsevier Microbiol* for pointing this out!

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