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.
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.