biology

Effect Measure

Category archives for biology

I’m an epidemiologist, not an immunologist or a virologist but I like reading immunology and virology. It’s interesting, in some ways for me it’s more interesting than reading epidemiology. In an epidemiological paper I can see pretty quickly where things are going (or going wrong) and there isn’t much mystery. But the sheer number of…

Immunity and the 1918 and 2009 pandemics

We continue to learn a great deal about influenza infection as researchers harvest information from the recent swine flu pandemic. The pork producers don’t like to call it “swine flu” but it may well be that its long sojourn in that animal since 1918 (did we give Spanish flu to pigs or did pigs give…

Why do I think that this will end badly? From the UK:

E. coli rides the wave

I’m fully immersed in writing a big grant proposal so I have even less time for blogging and reading blogs than usual, but that doesn’t mean I have no time. Along with my colleagues I’ve been working on this beast for 9 months, but now with only 3 months to go before the deadline it’s…

In my regular science trawling I noticed a fascinating paper in Nature (epub ahead of print) that I haven’t seen anything about in the news. It seems to me it’s worth a discussion, if for no other reason than it uses a relatively new approach, small interfering RNA (siRNA), to dissect the functions in the…

Bats and fungus

The caves in the Dordogne department in southwest France are most famous for paleolithic cave paintings at Lascaux (the Dordogne is also famous for the being the home of microdot, whose blog The Brain Police is one of my daily reads). Now it has yet another claim to fame: the discovery of the first bat…

Ducks and the shape of things to come

The natural home for influenza viruses is aquatic waterfowl, including ducks and geese (anseriformes). So I’ve read a fair amount about swabbing the claocae (rectums) of these animals as part of avian influenza surveillance. Recently it has been suggested that avian influenza is actually a sexually transmitted disease, so the question of anseriform sex is…

Pics of the flu virus and some its components

We talk so much about the flu virus we thought we’d show you some nice pics that CDC has just put up. This is a review for many of you put reviews are always helpful. In these three pics, only one is the actual swine flu virus, the other two being “cartoon” depictions of a…

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health is reporting sporadic occurrences of a mutation in a portion of the flu virus that is involved with the process by which it attaches to cells. I use the word “sporadic” because at this point there is no evidence that the cases where the genetic change has been found…

A couple of days ago Dr. Marion Koopmans, chief of virology in the infectious diseases laboratory of the National Institute of Public Health, The Netherlands, notified the infectious disease community through the website/email list ProMed that two of their swine flu isolates showed a particular genetic change in one of the virus’s eight genetic segments.…