The TWiVodrome explains how a gag-like protein from a retrotransposon forms virus-like particles that carry mRNA within vesicles across the synapse.

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glycolysisThe large quantities of viral macromolecules and virus particles that are produced in an infected cell impose heavy demands on the host. Synthesis of the building blocks of a virus particle – nucleotides, amino acids, and sometimes fatty acids – requires energy, typically in the form of ATP. Synthesis of viral proteins and genomes, and transport of viral components in the cell also require energy. Because of these needs, viral infections often lead to alterations in the energy-generating and precursor synthesizing pathways of a cell. Two recent examples illustrate how virus infection can alter host metabolism.

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By David Tuller, DrPH

Tom Chivers’ terrific article on the Lightning Process and Professor Esther Crawley’s SMILE trial in the Archives of Disease in Childhood has received a lot of attention and comment. I wanted to respond to the short sections in which Professor Crawley seeks to justify her methodological choices. Here are the relevant passages:

In the highest-quality medical trials, subjects are “blinded” – they don’t know whether they’re getting the treatment that’s being tested, or what it’s being tested against. It helps stop the results being biased in favour of the treatment. If you can’t blind the trial, said [Professor Jonathan] Edwards, then it’s important to ensure that you measure something that can’t be affected by patients’ perceptions. “You can have an unblinded trial and measure everyone’s blood sodium concentration at the end,” he said. “They can’t do anything to their sodium concentration, so it doesn’t matter if they know whether they’re getting the treatment or not. [click to continue…]

By David Tuller, DrPH

This month is the start of the second half of my one-year crowdfunding commitment to keep reporting on ME/CFS, so I figured I should review what I’ve done so far, what I still hope to do, and what changes have taken place during the last six months. So, here goes.

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TWiV 476: In ACOD1 we trust

Nels joins the TWiV team to talk about his work on genomic accordions in vaccinia virus, hepatitis B virus in a 439 year old mummy, and viral induction of energy synthesis by a long noncoding RNA.

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HBV mummy

Vesicopustular rash on face (C) and arm (D) of 439 year old mummy. Image credit.

A study done in 1985 on a 16th century Italian mummy suggested that the two year old child had smallpox. Recent sequence analysis of tissues from the mummy now reveal the presence of hepatitis B virus, not smallpox virus. The sequence of the viral genome suggests that HBV entered the human population well before 1500.

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In the first episode for 2018, the TWiV team reviews the amazing virology stories of 2017.

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By David Tuller, DrPH

Yesterday I reviewed an account of a publishing dilemma that had been submitted to the forum of the Committee on Publication Ethics. The COPE forum offers advice on thorny situations submitted anonymously by members. In this case, the submission appeared to be from BMJ Open and it appeared to be discussing Professor Esther Crawley’s school absence study. That study was exempted from ethical review on the specious grounds that it qualified as “service evaluation.” BMJ Open has defended its decision to publish the paper without ethical review.

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By David Tuller, DrPH

This post is about a serious issue–ethical approval for research studies involving children. It is also about how powerful institutions, like leading medical journals, respond to concerns. But the story is really too long and complicated. I recommend it only for those following things pretty closely or who for whatever reason like this kind of granular, somewhat obsessive analysis.

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TWiV 474: Call me fish meal

The TWiVanguardians take on Bodo saltans virus, a leviathan which infects an abundant flagellated eukaryote in Earth’s waters.

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