Paul Has Measles is a children's book about viruses and vaccines available in English (download pdf) Spanish (download pdf) French (download pdf) German (download link) Portuguese (download pdf) Romanian (download pdf), Italian (download pdf), Croatian (download pdf) and Mixtec (download pdf). Kindle and paperback versions also available at Amazon in English, Spanish, French.

Hepatitis delta satellite genomeHepatitis D virus is a unique human pathogen. With a circular, negative stranded RNA genome of ~1700 nucleotides, it is the smallest known human virus. Formation of the HDV particle depends on co-infection of cells with a helper virus, hepatitis B virus. Once thought to be specific for humans, related viruses have now been identified in birds and snakes – in the absence of hepatitis B virus.

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By David Tuller, DrPH

Earlier this month, as I have reported, I sent a letter to the Reuters global editor for “ethics and standards” about my concerns relating to last month’s hit piece on ME/CFS patients and me. (I put those words in quotation marks because I have seen little in the reporting and publication of this piece that would meet any legitimate journalistic understanding of “ethics and standards.”) After reviewing the matter, Reuters agreed to add the fact that I hold a current academic position at one of the world’s great universities–a detail that Kate Kelland, the reporter, apparently felt was irrelevant and of no interest to readers.

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By David Tuller, DrPH

Today I sent the following e-mail to Sue Paterson, director of legal services at Bristol University. I cc-d several other people on the e-mail.

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Dear Ms Paterson—

Earlier this month, I sent you an e-mail to ask, among other questions, when Bristol University plans to finish its investigation of studies that exempted themselves from ethical review as “service evaluation”–all based on a single research ethics committee letter. As you know, I have documented that at least 11 studies have cited this letter, which appeared to have nothing to do with any of them.

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adenovirusViral infection of vertebrates leads to the production of antibodies, and some of these can block virus infection by a process that is called neutralization. Antibodies can neutralize viral infectivity in a number of ways: they may impair virus entry into cells, and even cause degradation of the capsid in the cytoplasm. A newly discovered mechanism involves blocking disassembly of the virus particle.

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By David Tuller, DrPH

I’ve never spoken to Francis Collins, who heads the National Institutes of Health. He comes across as a decent, caring man, and by all accounts he is. That’s certainly how he came across in his remarks earlier this month at the NIH’s meeting on ME/CFS research.

But anyone who runs the NIH must play politics as well as direct the country’s medical research enterprise. And there are obviously differences of opinion as to whether the current limits on NIH funding for ME/CFS arise because of scientific concerns or the politics of the illness. The government claims the first. The patient/advocacy community disputes that argument, and so do scientists investigating the illness.

At the NIH meeting, Arthur Mirin, a retired mathematician whose daughter has been ill for years, said the disease burden for ME/CFS should lead to spending in the range of $200 million a year. And Cornell’s Maureen Hanson, who is an NIH grantee, made a passionate appeal from the podium for more funding.

After listening to Dr Collins’ presentation, Jennie Spotila provided her usual sharp, smart insights. As she wrote last week on her blog, Occupy M.E., his remarks gave her a sense of deja-vu. I am reposting Jennie’s blog below, with her permission.

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By David Tuller, DrPH

Hey folks! As of now I am at 71% of my goal, with eight days to go. So far I have exactly 700 donations. It would be great to get closer to 1000, as in previous years.

Today, Erica Verillo has generously offered to match any donations made through this Friday–up to a total of $5000. I have so far raised $67,800. So if you’ve been holding off on donating, now’s the time! Make your donation work double! If I raise an additional $5000 more this week, Erica’s $5000 matching gift will bring me much closer to my goal.

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By David Tuller, DrPH

After Reuters ran that PACE/CBT/GET propaganda piece last month, I sent an e-mail expressing two concerns to Kate Kelland, the reporter, and the two editors listed as having worked on the story.

The first concern was that the story falsely said I published my investigation on the blog of a Berkeley colleague. Since Kelland had sent a list of questions about my work to Professor Racaniello, the host of Virology Blog and a Columbia professor, she knew this wasn’t the case. Given that, I assumed the misstatement was an accident–the kind of stupid screw-up that’s really easy to do. All journalists have been there.

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TWiV 544: Immunogaga

The TWiV team reveals the repertoire of anti-viral antibodies in newborn humans, and a complement protein that binds the adenovirus capsid and prevents release of the viral DNA.

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Show notes at microbe.tv/twiv

herpesvirusWhen we are born, our blood contains antibodies that we have inherited from our mothers. They are transferred across the placenta and provide protection from infection until IgG production begins around 15 weeks after birth. Can we exploit such antibody transfer by vaccinating pregnant mothers to protect newborns against infectious diseases that occur early after birth? At least in mice infected with herpes simplex virus, the answer is yes.

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By David Tuller, DrPH

Last Sunday, I sent a letter expressing my concerns about Kate Kelland’s recent article to the appropriate person–the Reuters global editor for ethics and standards. After considering the issues, Reuters has decided to add my current academic title to the post and leave everything else as is. I appreciate the first decision and obviously disagree strongly with the second.

I note that the story still refers to me, for some reason, as a “former journalist.” This is false. I am both a currently working journalist and a public health investigator. For some reason, Reuters has determined it is impossible to be both.

I might have more to say about this going forward. For now, I’m posting the letter I sent. (In the actual e-mail, I linked to everything; I didn’t bother to do that here.)

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