TWiV 129: We’ve got mail

rich unwindsHosts: Vincent Racaniello, Alan Dove, Dickson Despommier, and Rich Condit

Vincent, Alan, Dickson and Rich answer listener questions about XMRV, yellow fever vaccine, virus-like particles, West Nile virus, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and human endogenous retroviruses, multiplicity of infection, and how to make a poxvirus.

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Click the arrow above to play, or right-click to download TWiV #129 (67 MB .mp3, 93 minutes).

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Links for this episode:

Weekly Science Picks

Rich – Polyxeni Potter and EID covers
Dickson – American Museum of Natural History
Alan –
Moon Trees (EurekAlert! article)
Vincent – Infection Landscapes

Listener Picks of the Week

Didier  – The Vaccines (MySpace)
/Sven-Urban –
The Science of Discworld by Terry Pratchett
GarrenOmega Tau podcast

Send your virology questions and comments (email or mp3 file) to, or call them in to 908-312-0760. You can also post articles that you would like us to discuss at and tag them with twiv.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Gob987 17 April 2011, 11:03 pm

    You state that it is not yet proven if HGRV’s infect humans. Yet, you were satisfied they did in October 2009.

    “but the virus cannot reinfect mouse tissues (hence the name ‘xenotropic’, meaning a virus that can grow in species other than that of its origin). These viruses can infect many cells, including human cells.”

    You also state that we are at a similar stage at where Defreitas virus was in the 90’s. Yet, with this virus it has been shown to be integrated, sequenced and isolated.

    You are correct way you say that you cannot prove a negative, but the burden is not on those who made the finding but also on the rest of the scientific community. The authors of Lombardi et al, Lo et al, or any of the prostate cancer papers, cannot replicate the methodology themselves and prove the virus is there. Yet, still no one has attempted to do this.

    The rumour circulating about CROI is not that Mikovits and Ruscetti were stopped from attending, after all Ruscetti was there wasn’t he, but that they were stopped from presenting. So they had no choice but to not present.

  • Anonymous 17 April 2011, 11:45 pm

    “No Capes” it’s from The Incredibles; the best pixar movie…. ever

  • profvrr 18 April 2011, 12:33 am

    Email me your address, if you’d like a TWiV mug –

  • Anonymous 19 April 2011, 11:04 pm

    In 2009 researchers at Northwestern University, who apparently didn’t get the TWIV memo that EBV doesn’t cause CFS, followed a group of adolescents with mononucleosis beginning with the initial acute infection to see if any of the patients would go on to develop CFS .

    According to the authors at six, 12, and 24 months after infectious mononucleosis respectively, 13%, 7%, and 4% of adolescents, met the 2006 pediatric criteria for chronic fatigue syndrome. The authors concluded among other factors that infectious mononucleosis may be a risk factor for chronic fatigue syndrome in adolescents.

    In 2006, infectious disease researchers at Stanford University studied patients with CFS-like illness who had elevated antibody titers to EBV and treated them with an anti-viral which in 75% of patients resulted in them being able to return to work and EBV VCA IgG titers dropped from 1:2560 to 1:640.

    Something CFS experts know, and the literature reflects, is that multiple pathogens can trigger ME/CFS in different subsets of patients. Unlike XMRV studies, which no one has been able to replicate in any disease, the situation with EBV or other triggering pathogens in ME/CFS is much less clear cut and blanket, off the cuff generalizations are probably best avoided.

    Science generally does sort things out, but it takes interested researchers and funding.

    Katz BZ, Shiraishi Y, Mears CJ, Binns HJ, Taylor R. Chronic fatigue syndrome after infectious mononucleosis in adolescents. Pediatrics. 2009 Jul;124(1):189-93.

    Kogelnik AM, Loomis K, Hoegh-Petersen M, Rosso F, Hischier C, Montoya JG. Use of valganciclovir in patients with elevated antibody titers against Human Herpesvirus-6 (HHV-6) and Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) who were experiencing central nervous system dysfunction including long-standing fatigue. J Clin Virol. 2006 Dec;37 Suppl 1:S33-8.

  • Gob987 20 April 2011, 7:07 pm

    “XMRV can infect humans but there is currently no evidence that it causes human disease.”

    National Expert Panel on New and Emerging Infections – 7 May 2010

    “XMRV is a newly identified human retrovirus that is similar to a group of mouse retroviruses (called murine leukemia viruses, or MLVs) scientists have known about for years.”

    CDC – 23 August 2010

  • Drosha 21 April 2011, 1:30 am


  • Anonymous 21 April 2011, 5:43 pm

    It is a human retrovirus.

  • Qq747467577 8 May 2011, 3:20 am

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    it has helped me out loads. I hope to contribute & help other users like its helped me. Good