Japanese Macaque. Image by Skeeze (Pixabay).

HIV Prevention Drug Shows Promise

As HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, continues to spread globally, there is increased demand for a drug that can effectively prevent HIV infection. Even more appealing is a drug that could guard against HIV over the long term, and not require a daily dose. Thanks to an experimental drug known as GSK744, hope may be on the horizon. Injection of GSK744 was found to … Continue reading HIV Prevention Drug Shows Promise

The Reason for the Season: why flu strikes in winter

“Did you get your flu shot?” If your friends are anything like mine, you heard this question at least a dozen times before Thanksgiving. You probably got your fair share of disdainful looks too, if you answered “No.” But why are we worried about getting the flu shot now and not in May? Why is there a flu season at all? After all, what does … Continue reading The Reason for the Season: why flu strikes in winter

Virus May Be Making Sea Stars Sick

Sea stars are famed for their multiple arms, ability to regenerate limbs, and colorful camouflage. While more than 2,000 species of sea stars inhabit the world’s oceans, millions of these creatures have died from sea star wasting disease (SSWD) within the past 18 months. SSWD begins when a sea star’s arms curl up, and grotesquely concludes when the entire animal disintegrates. Scientists now believe that … Continue reading Virus May Be Making Sea Stars Sick

Ebola Virus: How it infects people, and how scientists are working to cure it

Since the beginning of the current outbreak last May, Ebola has been a near daily news story.  Most articles have focused on the public health aspect of the disease in terms of its spread throughout West Africa, attempts to contain it, and efforts to set up viable health care stations near affected areas.  An earlier article on our website explained why this epidemic has become … Continue reading Ebola Virus: How it infects people, and how scientists are working to cure it

Why the West African Ebola Outbreak Is the Deadliest Ever

The current Ebola outbreak in the West African nations of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone has received a lot of media attention, with terrifying news headlines such as “Deadliest Ever Outbreak of Ebola” appearing across the globe [1]. And this is indeed the largest outbreak recorded to date, with approximately 1,093 people infected and 660 deaths as of July 29, 2014 [7]. But how exactly … Continue reading Why the West African Ebola Outbreak Is the Deadliest Ever

“Mississippi Baby” Relapse is a Setback in the Effort to Cure HIV

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) has been detected in a baby girl from Mississippi born with HIV and believed cured after very early treatment, disappointing the families involved and researchers. Millions of people have died of AIDS and millions more are infected with the virus. High-Activity Antiretroviral Treatment (HAART) is a life-saving combination of drugs that can hold the virus’ progression in check.  However, HAART … Continue reading “Mississippi Baby” Relapse is a Setback in the Effort to Cure HIV

Buzzkill: Where have all the bees gone?

One of my earliest memories is of the chaos caused by a kamikaze bee that flew through an open window in my family’s pickup truck during an otherwise pleasant country drive. It saddens me to imagine a future where children are deprived of the bee-related traumatic experiences that I had growing up, but lately the world’s bee populations have been mysteriously dying. Bees contribute heavily … Continue reading Buzzkill: Where have all the bees gone?

Killer viruses lurking in permafrost? Probably not, but here’s what they can teach us…

Should the discovery of an infectious virus in the permafrost worry us? Scientists have uncovered a so-called ‘giant virus’ in permafrost that has melted as a result of progressive climate change. The virus, Pithovirus sibericum, was isolated from melted samples of Siberian permafrost and was able to infect amoebas even after being frozen for thousands of years. Could ancient human pathogens also be uncovered and … Continue reading Killer viruses lurking in permafrost? Probably not, but here’s what they can teach us…

Pandoraviruses: Relics of a hidden domain of life?

Since the first discovery of virus by Martinus Beijerinck in 1898, viruses have been classified in a number of different ways. First, viruses were considered a poison, then a life-form, next demoted to classification as a biological chemical, and finally correctly characterized as non-living organic matter. Their current classification is based on three tenets of life that viruses don’t exhibit – the ability to synthesize … Continue reading Pandoraviruses: Relics of a hidden domain of life?