Bolivian Hemorrhagic Fever
In 2019, a small outbreak of Bolivian hemorrhagic fever was reported at a hospital in La Paz, Bolivia.  The following background data on Bolivian hemorrhagic fever are abstracted from Gideon and the Gideon e-book series. [1,2]  Primary references are available from the author. Bolivian hemorrhagic fever (BHF) is caused by Machupo virus (Arenaviridae, Tacaribe complex, Mammarenavirus).  The disease was initially described in 1959 as a sporadic hemorrhagic illness in rural areas of Beni department, eastern Bolivia; and the virus itself was first identified in 1963.  BHF is most common during April to...
Source: GIDEON blog - July 5, 2019 Category: Databases & Libraries Authors: Dr. Stephen Berger Tags: Ebooks Epidemiology Outbreaks ProMED Source Type: blogs

From cell proteins to viral capsids
We have previously discussed the idea that viruses originated from selfish genetic elements such as plasmids and transposons when these nucleic acids acquired structural proteins (see A plasmid on the road to becoming a virus). I want to explore in more detail the idea that the structural proteins of  viruses likely originated from cell proteins (link to paper). Three ideas have emerged to explain the origin of viruses: 1. viruses evolved first on Earth, before cells, and when cells evolved, the viruses became their genetic parasites; 2. viruses are cells that lost many genes and became intracellular parasites; 3. virus...
Source: virology blog - October 20, 2017 Category: Virology Authors: Vincent Racaniello Tags: Basic virology Information capsid evolution retrovirus selfish genetic element structural protein syncytin viral viruses Source Type: blogs

South Sudan: Unknown Hemorrhagic Illness
Regarding an ongoing outbreak of hemorrhagic illness in South Sudan, a differential diagnosis list generated by Gideon [Global Infectious Disease & Epidemiology Network], includes 2 lesser-known pathogens which have been associated with single small clusters of hemorrhagic fever in Africa: Bas-Congo virus (rhabdovirus) and Lujo virus (arenavirus). In 2008, 4 of 5 patients died of Lujo virus infection in a South African hospital, following transfer of an index patient from Zambia. The following year, 2 of 3 villagers in DR Congo died in an outbreak of Bas Congo virus infection. If tests for ot...
Source: GIDEON blog - July 4, 2016 Category: Databases & Libraries Authors: Dr. Stephen Berger Tags: Cases Diagnosis Epidemiology Outbreaks ProMED Bas Congo Lujo South Sudan Source Type: blogs

Fight Aging! Newsletter, April 18th 2016
This study confirms that having an apple-shaped body - or a high waist circumference - can lead to heart disease, and that reducing your waist size can reduce your risks." The results of the new research expands on the results of a previously published study called FaCTor-64, which showed that the greater a person's body mass index, the greater their risk of heart disease. FaCTor-64 enrolled patients with diabetes who were considered to be at high risk for heart attacks, strokes, or death but had no evidence of heart disease as of yet. Study participants completed randomized screening for coronary artery disease by ...
Source: Fight Aging! - April 17, 2016 Category: Research Authors: Reason Tags: Newsletters Source Type: blogs

The Rider Institute Seeks Funding for DRACO Research
Double-stranded RNA activated caspase oligomerizer, DRACO is an antiviral technology that works by destroying infected cells rather than directly attacking viral particles themselves, thus disrupting viral replication. It has proven effective against numerous viruses, and should in principal work against near all viral infections in a broad range of species, including the many persistent viral infections that presently lack any effective treatment. The technology finds itself in a similar position to SENS rejuvenation research however, with little support from the funding mainstream, and needing to raise funds from philant...
Source: Fight Aging! - April 11, 2016 Category: Research Authors: Reason Tags: Daily News Source Type: blogs

The DRACO Fundraiser Site: killingsickness
This is a year of much grassroots fundraising for longevity science, it seems, with more new projects launched and more new faces joining the community of supporters. All of these developments are collectively, hopefully, yet another sign that faster growth and more publicity are yet to come: the tipping point for public acceptance of efforts to treat aging as a medical condition is somewhere near, just around the corner. Ten years from now, people will conveniently forget that they were ever opposed to the development of therapies for aging. How silly that would be, like opposing cancer research or heart disease treatment...
Source: Fight Aging! - August 25, 2015 Category: Research Authors: Reason Tags: Activism, Advocacy and Education Source Type: blogs

Lassa virus origin and evolution
I have a soft spot in my heart for Lassa virus: a non-fictional account of its discovery in Africa in 1969 inspired me to become a virologist. Hence papers on this virus always catch my attention, such as one describing its origin and evolution. Lassa virus, a member of the Arenavirus family, is very different from Ebolavirus (a filovirus), but both are zoonotic pathogens that may cause hemorrhagic fever. It is responsible for tens of thousands of hospitalizations, and thousands of deaths each year, mainly in Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia, and Nigeria. Most human Lassa virus outbreaks are caused by multiple exposure...
Source: virology blog - August 13, 2015 Category: Virology Authors: Vincent Racaniello Tags: Basic virology Information arenavirus ebolavirus evolution genome sequence hemorrhagic fever Lassa virus Mastomys natalensis nigeria reservoir Sierra Leone viral zoonosis Source Type: blogs

Ebolavirus vaccines and antivirals
As the epidemic of Zaire ebolavirus in Western Africa continues (1,779 cases and 961 deaths in four countries), many are questioning why there are no means of preventing or stopping infection. In the past two decades there has been substantial research into developing and testing active and passive vaccines and antiviral drugs, although none have yet been licensed for use in humans. Using antibodies to treat infection with ebolaviruses with antibodies is probably the best known therapy, because it was used to treat a two Americans who were infected while working in Liberia. They received a mixture of three monocl...
Source: virology blog - August 8, 2014 Category: Virology Authors: Vincent Racaniello Tags: Basic virology Information antiviral ebola virus ebolavirus filovirus Guinea hemorrhagic fever Liberia monoclonal antibody therapy Sierra Leone vaccine ZMapp Source Type: blogs

Virology question of the week: why a segmented viral genome?
This week’s virology question comes from Eric, who writes: I’m working on an MPH and in one of my classes we are currently studying the influenza virus. I’d forgotten that the genome is in 8 separate parts. Curious, I’ve been searching but can’t find any information as to why that is? What evolutionary advantage is conferred by having a segmented genome? Terrific question! Here is my reply: It’s always hard to have answers to ‘why’ questions such as yours. We answer these questions from a human-centric view of what viruses ‘need’. We might not be right. But I’d guess there ...
Source: virology blog - April 22, 2014 Category: Virology Authors: Vincent Racaniello Tags: Basic virology Information evolution gene expression influenza reassortment segmented genome viral virus Source Type: blogs

TWiV 242: I want my MMTV
On episode #242 of the science show This Week in Virology, the complete TWiV team talks about how two different viruses shape the evolution of an essential housekeeping protein. You can find TWiV #242 at (Source: virology blog)
Source: virology blog - July 21, 2013 Category: Virology Authors: Vincent Racaniello Tags: This Week in Virology arenavirus arms race evolution hemmorhagic fever host-virus conflict machupo virus MMTV mouse mammary tumor virus parvovirus Red Queen retrovirus transferrin receptor viral Source Type: blogs

Dual virus-receptor duel
This study is unusual in that it involves a housekeeping gene that has been usurped for viral attachment. Evidence for positive selection of host genes can be detected by comparing gene sequences of phylogenetically related species. Nonsynonymous mutations lead to a change in the amino acid sequence, while synonymous mutations do not. The rate at which nonsynonymous mutations occur in the genome is typically much slower than synonymous mutations. The reason for this difference is that most mutations that change the amino acid sequence of a protein are lethal to the host. When genes have been subjected to positive selection...
Source: virology blog - July 17, 2013 Category: Virology Authors: Vincent Racaniello Tags: Basic virology Information arenavirus evolution host-virus arms race iron mouse mammary tumor virus positive selection red queen conflict retrovirus transferrin receptor viral Source Type: blogs

TWiV 240: Virology in Vermont
On episode #240 of the science show This Week in Virology,  Vincent travels to the University of Vermont to talk with Markus and Jason about their work on HIV, influenza virus, arenaviruses and hantaviruses. You can find TWiV #240 at (Source: virology blog)
Source: virology blog - July 7, 2013 Category: Virology Authors: Vincent Racaniello Tags: This Week in Virology arenavirus BSL-3 deer mouse hantavirus HIV human immunodeficiency virus influenza lipid rafts sin nombre tetraspannin viral Source Type: blogs