virus

Humanosphere
2:37 pm
Tue February 7, 2012

5 reasons not to panic about the bird flu experiments

It’s relatively easy for government officials, politicians or the media to demand risk reduction at the sacrifice of a select few (medical researchers) or some abstract idea. It’s much more difficult to make the case for science.

The scientific community is in serious kerfuffle right now about whether or not to publish the details of certain bird flu virus experiments.

Angry words are flying back and forth between experts – much like the proverbial behavior of chickens with their heads cut off. One commentator for Scientific American has even suggested banning all such research.

It’s all a bit much, and probably not good for science or for our global health. I would like to offer five reasons not to panic.

Read more on Humanosphere.

Global Health
10:39 am
Wed January 11, 2012

A dozen cases of tuberculosis that resists all drugs found in India

An image of Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria captured with an electron microscope.
CDC

Originally published on Wed January 11, 2012 6:55 am

Tuberculosis specialists in India have diagnosed infections in a dozen patients in Mumbai that are unfazed by the three first-choice TB drugs and all nine second-line drugs.

The doctors are calling them "totally drug-resistant TB," and the infections are essentially incurable with all available medicines.

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Humanosphere
9:55 am
Wed September 7, 2011

Contagion: What can we learn from movies about killer viruses?

Image cropped from the poster for the movie "Contagion." Killer viruses make for great movies, but do those movies teach us anything?

Time for another movie about a killer virus that spreads across the planet: "Contagion" by Steven Soderbergh is due out in a few days. Can these movies teach us anything?

Humanosphere’s Tom Paulson writes about the movie and his science-writing colleague, “one of the top public health and pandemic journalists out there," who was a consultant for it.

“Despite her misgivings, Garrett agreed to work as a consultant to the filmmakers for 'Contagion.' She says it is definitely based on an extraordinarily virulent bug that spreads fast. But the science is solid, she says, and there are some valuable lessons contained in the drama.”

Read more on Humanosphere.

Designer molecules
4:44 pm
Thu May 12, 2011

Engineering a new way to block the flu virus

A bright-green engineered protein molecule is binding to a portion of the influenza virus (in yellow and gray), showing the complicated surface, with its crevices and bulges.
Sarel Fleishman U.W.

Seattle researchers have created a new way to fight the flu virus, and potentially pave the way for a new class of medicines.

You probably remember how the flu pandemic two years ago eventually included such a scramble to get the vaccine that people stood in long lines -- and even lied about the ages of their children to get it earlier. It takes months to make influenza vaccine, which has to be grown in chicken eggs. And every year the whole process has to start over, as the virus keeps mutating and evolving. 

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