The new coronavirus as seen with an electron microscope. Note the characteristic halo, or ‘corona’, of proteins projecting from its outer surface. Source: NIAID/RML.
NPR has the story of the ongoing hospital outbreak of a novel coronavirus first isolated back in September. Like its cousin SARS, the virus some are calling MERS-CoV (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus) causes severe, potentially fatal pneumonia in humans. Another troubling aspect of the new virus is that it may disrupt our immune system recognizing the cells it has infected [*]. The World Health Organization has the most recent updates available as part of its Global Alert & Response system.
“Reprogrammed cells (green) fuse with and become skeletal muscles (red), spreading infection as they go. Cell nuclei are shown in blue.” Source: Masaki et al./Cell
Recent research into the mechanisms of leprosy suggests that bacterium Mycobacterium leprae reprograms human Schwann cells to act as stem cell-like vectors for further infection. WIRED Science has the story.
Illustration by Stuart Bradford. Source: New York Times website.
How far would you go to avoid getting a certain type of cancer? How far would you go to avoid getting it again? In Facing Cancer, a Stark Choice, New York Times writer Tara Parker-Pope talks about the dramatic increase in women with breast cancer or at risk of breast cancer seeking to have healthy breasts removed. Commentator Jeanne from Ohio suggests that cosmetics are also a factor.
The New York Times summarizes two recent papers on melanomas, the most dangerous type of skin cancer, that provide strong evidence that such cancers start not with mutations in genes, but mutations in the DNA regions that control them. The vast majority of our human genetic code comprises of these and other non-coding regions of DNA; what was once dismissed as mostly ‘junk DNA’ might be better called ‘dark matter’, considering how much we still have to learn about their function.
Caption via New York Times: “Tiny magnetic beads force the larger T-cells to divide before they are infused into the patient.” (Photo: University of Pennsylvania)
The HIV virus causes AIDS, one of the top ten causes of death worldwide. It is also the surprising key to a new cancer treatment with revolutionary promise. The New York Times tells the story.
Introducing the News Blog
Posted on December 4, 2012 by Jane Newbold | Categories: News | |
This section of the website will feature news we think you will find interesting and relevant. Please contact us if you have any questions, comments, suggestions, and/or lamentations as we get it up and running.