TWiV 64: Ten virology stories of 2009

3 January 2010

3D_InfluenzaHosts: Vincent Racaniello, Alan Dove, and Rich Condit

Vincent, Alan, and Rich discuss ten compelling virology stories of 2009.

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Ten virology stories of 2009:

  1. Pandemic influenza: Swine-origin H1N1 virus (TWiV 36)
  2. XMRV, prostate cancer, and chronic fatigue syndrome (TWiV 50, 55)
  3. AIDS vaccine ‘success’ (TWiV 51)
  4. Colony collapse disorder (TWiV 46, 49)
  5. AIDS-like disease in wild chimps (TWiV 45)
  6. Diverse viral community in Antarctic lake (TWiV 58)
  7. Polyomavirus seroepidemiology in humans (TWiV 26)
  8. Poxvirus threatens UK red squirrels (TWiV 63)
  9. Polio spreads from Nigeria (TWiV 29)
  10. How mosquitoes survive Dengue virus infection (TWiV 21)

Picture book on viruses for kids (Thanks Soraia!)

Weekly Science Picks
Rich Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! by Richard P. Feynman, Ralph Leighton, Edward Hutchings, and Albert R. Hibbs
Alan Spaceweather.com
Vincent The Art and Politics of Science by Harold Varmus

Send your virology questions and comments (email or mp3 file) to twiv@twiv.tv or leave voicemail at Skype: twivpodcast. You can also post articles that you would like us to discuss at microbeworld.org and tag them with twiv.

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  • John

    I have one quick question about MLV/XMRV, if I may.

    I'm under the impression that MLV is an endogenous retrovirus in mice, which as a result mice don't get sick from MLV, possibly due to a receptor being missing? Also, even though mice don't get sick from it, other animals that contract it can- see FLV, XMRV, etc.

    Anyways the mechanism isn't what I wanted to ask about- my question is that if MLV is a murine endogenous retrovirus and mice don't get sick from it, then why is it called Murine *Leukemia* Virus?

    Thank you very much for any help in clearing this up.

  • John

    PS- One good reason why the array studies haven't been done yet is that for the past several years the NIH has spent roughly $5 million per year on CFS, which dropped to $4 million in 2009 and projected $3 million in 2010. This is due in large part to CDC's decades long assertion that CFS is nothing more than psychoneurosis. The end result of which has been ever increasing amounts of XMRV in the blood supply for you and me! Yippee!

    And the definition for psychosomatic illness, 'functional' illness, etc. is that there is no underlying pathology, so to say that psychosomatic illness is the same as an organic 'physical' illness is either stupid or intellectually dishonest. Just because the psyche rests in the brain doesn't mean that behavorial illnesses are the same as organic disease processes. It's simple medical classification, not some sort of 'Cartesian dualism'.

    The only problem is that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Before the MRI was invented, people with Multiple Sclerosis were long deemed to suffer from 'hysterical paralysis'. Autism was thought to be caused by 'refrigerator mothers', dyslexia by divorcing parents and mononucleosis was the domain of lovelorn young schoolgirls prior to the discovery of EBV.

    This is not simply a matter of semantics either, though it is often portrayed as such. The difference between behavorial illness and organic disease is profound. Take anorexia and cancer for example- both are marked by weight loss. The difference is that anorexic people can quit starving themselves and get better, but there's no such luck for cancer patients. So while the results of anorexia are indeed very 'physical', the cause not so much, with this having profound implications for treatment, etc.

    What has happened in the realm of CFS is that patients have been and are still told that they don't have a biomedical illness but instead suffer from psychoneurosis. Through the use of lay language, the word 'real' has gotten thrown into the mix. The correct distinction is that some people think CFS patients suffer from psychoneurosis, ie a behavorial disorder, etc., while patients hold forth that they suffer from an organic disease process with an as yet undetermined cause. While both happen inside the body, I'm not sure I would say that both are physical, and I certainly would not say that they are equatable.

  • John

    PS- sorry for the way the above post doesn't flow well, I edited out quite a few hot-headed remarks.

  • John

    I have one quick question about MLV/XMRV, if I may.

    I'm under the impression that MLV is an endogenous retrovirus in mice, which as a result mice don't get sick from MLV, possibly due to a receptor being missing? Also, even though mice don't get sick from it, other animals that contract it can- see FLV, XMRV, etc.

    Anyways the mechanism isn't what I wanted to ask about- my question is that if MLV is a murine endogenous retrovirus and mice don't get sick from it, then why is it called Murine *Leukemia* Virus?

    Thank you very much for any help in clearing this up.

  • John

    PS- One good reason why the array studies haven't been done yet is that for the past several years the NIH has spent roughly $5 million per year on CFS, which dropped to $4 million in 2009 and projected $3 million in 2010. This is due in large part to CDC's decades long assertion that CFS is nothing more than psychoneurosis. The end result of which has been ever increasing amounts of XMRV in the blood supply for you and me! Yippee!

    And the definition for psychosomatic illness, 'functional' illness, etc. is that there is no underlying pathology, so to say that psychosomatic illness is the same as an organic 'physical' illness is either stupid or intellectually dishonest. Just because the psyche rests in the brain doesn't mean that behavorial illnesses are the same as organic disease processes. It's simple medical classification, not some sort of 'Cartesian dualism'.

    The only problem is that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Before the MRI was invented, people with Multiple Sclerosis were long deemed to suffer from 'hysterical paralysis'. Autism was thought to be caused by 'refrigerator mothers', dyslexia by divorcing parents and mononucleosis was the domain of lovelorn young schoolgirls prior to the discovery of EBV.

    This is not simply a matter of semantics either, though it is often portrayed as such. The difference between behavorial illness and organic disease is profound. Take anorexia and cancer for example- both are marked by weight loss. The difference is that anorexic people can quit starving themselves and get better, but there's no such luck for cancer patients. So while the results of anorexia are indeed very 'physical', the cause not so much, with this having profound implications for treatment, etc.

    What has happened in the realm of CFS is that patients have been and are still told that they don't have a biomedical illness but instead suffer from psychoneurosis. Through the use of lay language, the word 'real' has gotten thrown into the mix. The correct distinction is that some people think CFS patients suffer from psychoneurosis, ie a behavorial disorder, etc., while patients hold forth that they suffer from an organic disease process with an as yet undetermined cause. While both happen inside the body, I'm not sure I would say that both are physical, and I certainly would not say that they are equatable.

  • John

    PS- sorry for the way the above post doesn't flow well, I edited out quite a few hot-headed remarks.