“Exposure and disease are two different things,” Murcia explained. “We get exposed to viruses and other pathogens all the time, and often we mount a response without even realising that it’s there. What I wouldn’t advise is deliberately trying to get infected, because every infection has a risk.”
The pandemic should make us question the value of gain-of-function research.
Humans have been battling viruses since before our species had even evolved into its modern form. For some viral diseases, vaccines and antiviral drugs have allowed us to keep infections from spreading widely, and have helped sick people recover. For one disease — smallpox — we've been able to eradicate it, ridding the world of new cases.
But we're a long way from winning the fight against viruses.
Experts are figuring out how to exploit the 380 trillion viruses that make up the human virome.
Some of these biological agents are being recruited to combat bacterial infections.
Deaths and paralysis stemming from respiratory infections have been reported, but those cases are rare.
Researchers report that two causes of the stomach flu, norovirus and rotavirus, appear to work better in groups. Specifically, they seem to travel together in little biological packages, or vesicles, made out of parts of our own cells. That lets them fly under the radar of our immune system, passing easily into our cells. Preliminary work has shown handful of other viruses, including the poliovirus and the rhinovirus (which causes the common cold), move through the body in this way.
Which is a problem, because infectious diseases are projected to become only more common.
Viruses on your skin? Check. Viruses in your lungs? Check. Viruses in your pee? Check.
“A well-funded organization with scientific expertise and the resources to grow, manipulate, or release agents, and the motivation to actually use them—that’s the worst case scenario."
As Quammen puts it, every emerging virus “is like a sweepstakes ticket, bought by the pathogen, for the prize of a new and more grandiose existence. It’s a long-shot chance to transcend the dead end. To go where it hasn’t gone and be what it hasn’t been. Sometimes the bettor wins big.”
How well-intentioned research with dangerous pathogens could put people at risk.
Federal officials on Tuesday ended a moratorium imposed three years ago on funding research that alters germs to make them more lethal. Such work can now proceed, said Dr. Francis S. Collins, the head of the National Institutes of Health, but only if a scientific panel decides that the benefits justify the risks. Some scientists are eager to pursue these studies because they may show, for example, how a bird flu could mutate to more easily infect humans, or could yield clues to making a better vaccine. Critics say these researchers risk creating a monster germ that could escape the lab and seed a pandemic.
Although viruses challenge our concept of what "living" means, they are vital members of the web of life.
Evolutionary history suggests they evolved from ancient cells.
A study seeking new drug targets for the disease unexpectedly implicates two types of herpes.
As a general rule, viruses don’t benefit from making us ill. They would much prefer* to keep us healthy. What benefits the virus is making copies of itself and spreading those copies to new human hosts.
We’re desperate for a solution. What are our options?
Unmasking viral genes in our DNA may trigger an immune response that destroys cancer cells.
Tracing the origins of viruses is difficult because they don't leave fossils and because of the tricks they use to make copies of themselves within the cells they've invaded. Some viruses even have the ability to stitch their own genes into those of the cells they infect, which means studying their ancestry requires untangling it from the history of their hosts and other organisms.
Men are more vulnerable to certain diseases than women. The pathogens that are more deadly in the less-fair sex include one that causes tuberculosis, as well as the viruses that can ultimately lead to tonsil cancer (namely the HPV virus) and Hodgkin's lymphoma (Epstein-Barr virus). In a new study, scientists have shown for the first time that this might not be blamed on weaker immune systems in men, but rather on the fact that viruses actually take it easier on women.
Viruses have a straightforward mission: enter cells, reproduce, burst forth, and repeat. The constant copying eventually destroys so many cells, whatever living thing is acting as the virus’s host will fall ill.
That’d be one thing—bad, but not devastating—if these viruses stayed the same as they perpetuated. Then we could likely, eventually, create vaccines for all of the viruses that infect humans. But, as viruses copy themselves using the machinery of their host’s cells, they constantly mutate. Inevitably, some of these mutations are advantageous, enabling the virus to, for example, spread faster or infect a new type of host. Thanks to mutations, there are over 200 “zoonotic” viruses that can jump between animals and humans, including notorious infections like HIV, Ebola, hepatitis, hanta virus, and several strains of the flu. These are the ones we’re not ready for.
Although some of these viruses have far lower mortality rates than that of Ebola, they are more prevalent in developed nations, and kill more people annually than Ebola does. Here are five viruses that are just as dangerous (if not more so) than Ebola...
The GVN mission is to strengthen medical research and response to current viral causes of human disease and to prepare for new viral pandemic threats.
Facts, data, info, expert opinion and a reasonable, occassionally grumpy, voice on viruses: what they are, how they tick and the illnesses they may cause.
This is a collection of the web sites of scientific societies of interest to virologists. These pages often contain information on the society, its interests and goals, staff, and membership as well as pointers to other sites of microbial interest. These sites are listed alphabetically by the type of group.
Scientific findings, clinical therapies research, and public health aspects on viruses of medical importance.
This Week in Virology (TWiV) is a podcast – or netcast, as some prefer to call them, since you don’t need an iPod to listen – about viruses. It was begun in September 2008 by Vincent Racaniello and Dick Despommier, two science Professors at Columbia University Medical Center. Their goal was to have an informal yet informative conversation about viruses which would be accessible to everyone, no matter what their science background.
A knowledge resource to understand virus diversity.
The purpose of this blog is to teach you about viruses and viral disease. This topic is not one that everyone understands, yet nearly everyone would like to. I was most disturbed when the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tommy G. Thompson, referred to the anthrax bacillus as a virus. That incident crystallized in my mind the need to better educate the public about viruses.
What's multiplying in you?
This site contains notes on various aspects of virology. It is designed as a study aid for undergraduate and postgraduate students. Besides general information on virology and individual viruses, this site also contains suggested answers to some likely examination questions in virology as well as some ready-to-use slide sets. My name is Derek Wong and I am a medical virologist working in Hong Kong.
Project aiming to create a European network of high calibre laboratories with the expertise to collect, amplify, characterise, standardise, authenticate, distribute and track all viruses.
Global Viral’s mission is to promote understanding, exploration and stewardship of the microbial world.