Only a few key mutations could cause the avian influenza virus to become airborne and transmissible among mammals, according to a controversial new paper publishing online today. In detailed research involving ferrets, researchers at the Erasmus Medical Centre in the Netherlands engineered a potent strain of the bird flu that could infect ferrets, and pass between them when the animals sneeze.
What's more, this strain of engineered bird flu could mutate naturally, evolving the ability to attach to mammalian cells — potentially passing from human to human. Several natural strains of the avian influenza already have two of the mutations that are known to make the virus airborne, and they may only need two or three more to resemble the viruses engineered in two separate labs. Some scientists are hoping this research will give humans the upper hand in the fight against the flu.
Piezoelectric devices promise to draw power from your footsteps or heartbeat, change the channel on your TV, and complete all sorts of helpful tasks — but they generally work in the nano-mechanical realm, requiring synthetic materials to function.
Just a handful of genetic mutations can turn bird flu into a highly infectious pathogen that could wreak havoc on humans, according to a new paper published today. It’s the first of two controversial virus mutation papers to get its day in the sun, and it shows how the H5N1 flu could evolve to infect mammals.
To catch a fast-acting virus, response teams have to be faster
By Ryan BradleyPosted 02.28.2012 at 10:05 am 8 Comments
A man who worked in a lead and gold mine in southwest Uganda died suddenly from a hemorrhagic fever. Concerned that it could be the beginning of an outbreak of Marburg virus, which is similar to Ebola, doctors sent a blood sample to the Uganda Virus Research Institute, where pathologists confirmed that Marburg was indeed the cause of death and alerted the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Both the WHO and the CDC are tasked with containing the spread of virulent diseases.
You never know exactly what you'll find when you go churning up muck, but apparently odds are pretty good you'll find some viruses. The other day we heard how raw sewage is a hotbed of unknown viruses; now a French team has found the largest virus ever, living in the sea off the coast of Chile.
Raw sewage is apparently a gold mine for virologists in search of new quarry — it contains thousands of previously unknown virus species, according to a new study. Hopefully this unique finding will justify the nasty task of sifting through sewage for science.