Archive for the ‘Virology’ Category

Pigs can’t fly, but their viruses flew!

Monday 27 April, 2009

The common idiom states that pigs cannot fly. I don’t think this statement can be easily debated. However, the swine flu viruses now seem to have flown around the globe quickly (with cases in New Zealand, New York, Canada, California, and of course Mexico). As always, with such things that one cannot easily interpret, both news agencies and conspiracy theorists are always ahead of scientists with a mixture of quasi-scientific, scientifically inaccurate, and entertaining stories (or maybe not).

It is hard with conditions such as the current eventual flu pandemic to get the facts straight. I cannot claim having any additional knowledge, but I would rather read what the World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Centers for Disease Control and prevention (CDC) have to say first:




The parasite of our parasite is our friend?!

Thursday 7 August, 2008

I don’t know how to introduce it!! I have only few minutes to tell you simply that all what we teach you is already old, very old!! All what is published in new textbooks is also old. Even what is in journals is already old! The third millennium’s science is really quick.

In the advance online section of the journal Nature comes the news: viruses are not safe from infection! There is now a “virophage”: a virus that attacks a bigger virus. The first virophage has been named Sputnik (after a prototypic satellite).

the first virophage (Nature)

Meet Sputnik: the first virophage (image from Nature)

(image source)

We were talking about the pathogen’s pathogen, the bacteriophage! Here comes the pathogen’s pathogen’s pathogen!

Read more here and here.

To learn about microbes, think like a microbe!!

Monday 25 February, 2008

Adopt a Microbe! a very interesting blog that artistically represents microbes, makes you think like one of them, then you will definitely know them better.

I think each microbiology student should have his own way of representing a microbe: draw a picture of them, write a song, even a play!

When bacteria were called viruses!

Saturday 29 September, 2007

The word “virus” was used in the past to refer to any poison (Latin: virus = poison), such as snake venom, and was later used to describe the causative agent of any infectious disease.

Pasteur often referred to pathogenic bacteria as viruses, but by the end of the nineteenth century, things have changed and infectious agents smaller than bacteria kept the name “filterable viruses” or viruses.

Source: Brock’s Biology of Microorganisms, Eighth Edition (P. 250)

Try to find more info and post it in the comments area…

The Florida Dentist: HIV Molecular Forensics

Tuesday 20 March, 2007

–The “Florida Dentist” exercise, that is being solved in the Micro labs this week, is a simplified version of an exercise about in the book “Microbes Count!“–

As I told you in the lecture, the exercise is an accurate–but simplified–version of a real story that was in the news in the early 1990s. As a matter of fact, the case was published in one of the most prestigious journals, Science, in 1992. (Check the article’s abstract here).

The real story, in full details, can be found in the following Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports:

Initial report (27 July 1990)
Report showing three more cases (18 January 1991)
The story of patients E, F, G (14 June 1991) – This is the story on which the lab exercise was based.
One year later (15 May 1992)
A later report summarizing results of screening most people who were treated by this dentist (7 May 1993)

Although the reports support the hypothesis that the dentist was the source of HIV infection, there were always doubts concerning the mode of viral transmission. For example, a journalist debates the case in the following article The 1990 Florida Dental Investigation: Is the Case Really Closed?

More interestingly, a book was written about the whole story…
(Click the book title for information)

WOW! It seems that you can buy the book for less than a dollar, if you’re in USA.

This case may make the Florida dentist as famous as Typhoid Mary. [Do you know her story?]

p.s. You may want to read more details about DNA forensics.

Diagnostic Virology Prelab: Lecture Notes (March 19)

Monday 19 March, 2007

It’s never too late.
Here are the Diagnostic Virology lecture notes, released few hours before the first lab section of this week.

The notes are available for all. You need no password. I put the lecture notes in two sizes:
1) A “regular” size: 4 pages (PDF file)
2) A “smaller” size: 2 pages (PDF file- same everything, but the font is smaller and the lines are less spaced)

Because PCR is a very important technique and because some of you want to understand it better, I put some more information about PCR in an appendix (PDF file). Obviously, information in this appendix is not for memorization and will not be a part in the exam (to calm down exam-oriented students) but only for those who want to read and learn.

– Please, give me feedback on these lecture notes. Are they clear? long? short? too brief? too detailed? Also please let me know if you find any spelling (or scientific) mistake!

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