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  • September 21, 2008
  • 03:48 PM

Cross-protection against avian influenza?

by iayork in Mystery Rays from Outer Space

The 1918 influenza pandemic that killed between 20 million and 100 million people world-wide was unusual in a lot of ways. One of the most extraordinary things about it was not just the high mortality rate, but the mortality pattern. Normally influenza kills the very old and the very young; but the 1918 [...]... Read more »

Laurel Yong-Hwa Lee, Do Lien Anh Ha, Cameron Simmons, Menno D. de Jong, Nguyen Van Vinh Chau, Reto Schumacher, Yan Chun Peng, Andrew J. McMichael, Jeremy J. Farrar, Geoffrey L. Smith.... (2008) Memory T cells established by seasonal human influenza A infection cross-react with avian influenza A (H5N1) in healthy individuals. Journal of Clinical Investigation. DOI: 10.1172/JCI32460  

  • August 31, 2008
  • 11:21 AM

Fitness, eradication, and vaccination

by iayork in Mystery Rays from Outer Space

Polio patient in iron lung (1949)

It’s well known that HIV mutates rapidly and continuously in infected people. An individual is infected with a handful of HIV viruses, but quickly becomes the host of a vast cloud of virus genomes, with the dominant strain of HIV evolving over time.

There are several factors selecting which HIV [...]... Read more »

  • December 12, 2007
  • 11:04 PM

Malaria eradication?

by iayork in Mystery Rays from Outer Space

I’m marking final exams for the grad immunology class I teach, so I don’t have a lot of time to blog. But I do want to point to a really amazing, ambitious, and potentially world-changing initiative that doesn’t seem to have got the attention it deserves in the blog-world. A couple of ... Read more »

  • February 4, 2008
  • 09:00 AM

Autoimmune hypotheses

by iayork in Mystery Rays from Outer Space

Autoimmunity is surprisingly common, and amazingly complex. About 5% of people will develop some form of autoimmune disease — that’s tens of millions of people in North America alone — yet the causes underlying the diseases are still not known. It’s clear that there are both genetic and non-genetic factors, because if one ... Read more »

  • February 6, 2008
  • 07:00 PM

Gammaherpesviruses don’t always co-speciate!

by iayork in Mystery Rays from Outer Space

A while ago I talked about evolution of the herpesviruses, and I said:
We know of 200-odd herpesviruses so far, and more are being identified practically daily. It’s likely that virtually every animal species has its own set of unique herpesviruses. This is probably because herpesviruses are very host-restricted (rarely infecting more than a single species) ... Read more »

  • June 25, 2008
  • 08:00 PM

Silicosis parallels alum

by iayork in Mystery Rays from Outer Space

A couple of years ago, Jürg Tschopp’s group showed that uric acid crystals acted as inflammatory agents (and probably, also as adjuvants) by stimulating the Nalp3 inflammasome.1 A month ago, Richard Flavell’s group showed that alum adjuvant — also (sort of) crystalline — also acts through the Nalp3 inflammasome.2 And now, a paper ... Read more »

S Cassel, S C Eisenbarth, S S Iyer, J J Sadler, O R Colegio, L A Tephly, A B Carter, P B Rothman, R A Flavell, & F S Sutterwala. (2008) The Nalp3 inflammasome is essential for the development of silicosis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0803933105  

  • January 6, 2008
  • 11:00 PM

Clams got herpes!

by iayork in Mystery Rays from Outer Space

Where did herpesviruses come from?
Humans, of course, have 8 different herpesviruses that are remarkably good at infecting us. Humans aren’t exceptional: We know of 200-odd herpesviruses so far, and more are being identified practically daily. It’s likely that virtually every animal species has its own set of unique herpesviruses. This is probably because herpesviruses are ... Read more »

C Farley, W G Banfield, G Jr Kasnic, & W A Foster. (1972) Oyster herpes-type virus. . Science, 178(62), 759-760.

  • March 5, 2009
  • 07:22 AM

On measles vaccination and capitalism

by iayork in Mystery Rays from Outer Space

Anti-vaccine loons often claim that the only reason for vaccinations is the capitalist system and the ill-gotten profits of vaccination.

Here’s data1 from that notorious hotbed of capitalism, the People’s Republic of China of 1965, when measles vaccination was introduced.  For Shanghai …

The incidence of morbidity associated with measles ranged from 909 to 3,510/100,000 persons during [...]... Read more »

  • May 11, 2008
  • 11:00 PM

A therapeutic catalytic antibody?

by iayork in Mystery Rays from Outer Space

I’m not so much an antibody guy, but of course I’ve heard about catalytic antibodies. Catalytic antibodies bind, with the very high affinity that’s typical of many antibodies, to transition state molecules, stabilizing the transition state and facilitating the chemical reaction. They’ve been around for quite a while (I think the first, ... Read more »

  • November 23, 2007
  • 11:39 AM

Niches and bone marrow transplants

by iayork in Mystery Rays from Outer Space

Stuffed with duck as I am (we don’t do turkey for Thanksgiving in our house) I’m not up to a long post, but I thought a paper in the latest issue of Science was pretty cool. The paper is
Czechowicz, A., Kraft, D., Weissman, I. L., and Bhattacharya, D. (2007). Efficient Transplantation via Antibody-Based Clearance ... Read more »

  • January 10, 2008
  • 08:00 AM

Oncolytic viruses and immune clearance

by iayork in Mystery Rays from Outer Space

Oncolytic VSV (gold) infecting lung tumors1

Oncolytic viruses are a concept I’d like to be more excited by than I am.2 It’s an idea that seemed really exciting when I first came across it, but the more I thought about it the more dubious I was. But a recent paper helps me feel better about at ... Read more »

  • December 29, 2007
  • 11:24 PM

Any excuse to say “axolotl”

by iayork in Mystery Rays from Outer Space

My last post talked about various species that have limited MHC diversity in their population. I got carried away and forgot to mention the paper that actually prompted that long ramble.
Axolotls are a fairly popular laboratory animal; they are salamanders, famous for their ability to regenerate limbs and for neotony — at ... Read more »

A Richman, G Herrera, V H Reynoso, G Méndez, & L Zambrano. (2007) Evidence for balancing selection at the DAB locus in the axolotl, Ambystoma mexicanum. International Journal of Immunogenetics, 34(6), 475-478. DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-313X.2007.00721.x  

  • November 13, 2008
  • 11:36 AM

When activation goes bad

by iayork in Mystery Rays from Outer Space

HIV budding from a macrophage

The STEP anti-HIV vaccine trial  received a lot of press coverage last year, when the vaccine was pulled for fear that it actually worsened HIV disease. A number of mechanisms were proposed for the exacerbation.  One of those has now received some support.1

The STEP study used adenovirus vectors, expressing HIV proteins, to induce [...]... Read more »

  • March 12, 2009
  • 07:27 AM

A successful trial of a malaria vaccine

by iayork in Mystery Rays from Outer Space

The point of a vaccine trial is to test whether the vaccine works.  If you get an answer to that question, the trial is a success.  The answer may be “No”, in which case the vaccine is a failure, but the trial would still be a success.  (The STEP HIV vaccine trial was therefore a [...]... Read more »

  • January 17, 2008
  • 10:00 AM

Switches and targets: T cell receptor downregulation by viruses

by iayork in Mystery Rays from Outer Space

TcR interacting with artificial membrane1

Earlier this week I talked about the phenomenon of viruses that downregulate MHC class II. The “purpose” of this blockade is kind of unclear to me, because the immunity driven by MHC class II is not focused on the cell it’s attached to, but rather spills out broadly over a ... Read more »

  • July 6, 2009
  • 07:00 AM

Origins of an infectious cancer

by iayork in Mystery Rays from Outer Space

Dogs & Wolf (Gotthilf Heinrich von Schubert, 1872)

Naturgeschichte der Säugethiere: mit colorirten

Abbildungen zum Anschauugs-Unterricht für die

Jugend. (Esslingen : Schreiber, 1872)

Cancer is a creepy disease. Your own cells turn on you, mindlessly and blindly destroying themselves — because the only way a cancer can survive is for its host to survive; unlike viruses, cancers don’t [...]... Read more »

Rebbeck, C., Thomas, R., Breen, M., Leroi, A., & Burt, A. (2009) ORIGINS AND EVOLUTION OF A TRANSMISSIBLE CANCER. Evolution. DOI: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2009.00724.x  

  • March 6, 2008
  • 12:00 AM

Viruses and species restriction

by iayork in Mystery Rays from Outer Space

The recent papers on TRIM5-cyclophilin fusion proteins as retroviral restriction systems,1 and my nattering about myxomavirus the other day, reminded me of another paper I recently read.
TRIM5 is one of a family of proteins that prevent replication of certain retroviruses; the TRIM5-CYP fusion protein protects against infection so that, for example, feline immunodeficiency virus doesn’t ... Read more »

Timothy Sheahan, Barry Rockx, Eric Donaldson, Amy Sims, Raymond Pickles, Davide Corti, & Ralph Baric. (2008) Mechanisms of zoonotic severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus host range expansion in human airway epithelium. Journal of virology, 82(5).

Wenhui Li, Chengsheng Zhang, Jianhua Sui, Jens H Kuhn, Michael J Moore, Shiwen Luo, Swee-Kee Wong, I-Chueh Huang, Keming Xu, Natalya Vasilieva.... (2005) Receptor and viral determinants of SARS-coronavirus adaptation to human ACE2. The EMBO journal, 24(8).

  • January 29, 2009
  • 08:24 PM

Immune evasion as an antiviral target

by iayork in Mystery Rays from Outer Space

I know all my regular readers1 are expecting me to talk about the bombshell announcements that NK cells have memory, but I’ll put that off for a bit and instead quickly note a very cool advance on a story I’ve mentioned a few times before.

Interferons are among the most critical early warning and protective cytokines, [...]... Read more »

D. Basu, M. P. Walkiewicz, M. Frieman, R. S. Baric, D. T. Auble, & D. A. Engel. (2008) Novel Influenza Virus NS1 Antagonists Block Replication and Restore Innate Immune Function. Journal of Virology, 83(4), 1881-1891. DOI: 10.1128/JVI.01805-08  

  • April 27, 2009
  • 09:35 AM

On immunology and malaria

by iayork in Mystery Rays from Outer Space

Life cycle of Plasmodium falciparu

“In this article we have attempted to make the case that we may not know enough about malaria to make an effective vaccine. If we agree that the development of a malaria vaccine would profit from a better understanding of the basic immunology of the human response to malaria, we then [...]... Read more »

  • January 14, 2008
  • 12:00 PM

HIV, VPU, MHC, and other TLAs

by iayork in Mystery Rays from Outer Space

HIV infecting a macrophage1

It’s never been very clear to me why a virus would want to invest in blocking MHC class II. Since there are viruses that apparently do invest this way2 I may be missing something about virus-host interactions.
MHC class II is certainly critical to the immune response. People without MHC class II, as ... Read more »

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