Archive for the ‘virus’ Category

What you always wanted to know about viruses

In animation, Cool stuff, Swine flu, virus on April 30, 2009 at 10:02 am

Considering that swine flu is here everywhere and many became interested in viruses, I compiled here a few videos that might give you an update about viruses, virology, vaccine production and how a vaccine acts. Feedback and questions are welcome at




Where are the swine flu cases?

See actual status here

or check it in GoogleMaps here:

An overview of the status by 20090430:


How does influenza spreads and what happens with it in our body?

The life of a virus

The structure of viruses

Vaccine production(description and images).

Vaccine production at Sanofi (video).

How does the vaccine act?

Injection of the vaccine

More about pandemics, and vaccination here.

How microarrays can be used for rapid characterization of viruses: here.

Stay tuned!

Bird flu solved, swine flu arrived!

In Cool stuff, News, virus on April 29, 2009 at 4:12 pm

The bird flu solved by vaccines, now comes the swine flu.

Pandemics shaped the human population in past and probably in future. One of the most destructive influenza pandemics in the last century was the Spanish Flu which caused the death of 25-40 million people. More info about the pandemics here. The very last thread to cause a pandemic is the virus called A/H1N1, or swine flu, or Mexican flu.

Rapid diagnostic tests will be probably be PCR based. A very interesting microarray based virus characterization tool is described here.

Influenza vaccines are produced by quite a lot of manufacturers in the world. You can have a list of the manufacturers here.

A small Hungarian company is a word leader in vaccine development. Omninvest was one of the first who produced the anti H5N1 vaccine. It is good to draw the conclusions of the Bird Flu vaccine development, a detailed overview can be found here.

Today Omninvest announced that they made all the preparatory steps needed to start to develop a Swine Flu vaccine. Once the sample virus arrives they can start the development of inactivated viruses that can be used for the development of the Swine flu vaccine. While US based CDC researcher Ruben Donis announced that the “reference strain” would be available at the beginning of May, the Hungarian news agency MTI released the information that samples that could be used for further development migh arrive in days.

For more details about the life of a virus and vaccination check this.

Hunting Viruses

In cell culture, DNA, molecular biology, RNA, virus on March 30, 2009 at 6:02 pm

If it comes to speak about the future possibilities of molecular biology, it is worth keeping an eye on the medical applications. And if you think about the most peculiar infection agents you should for sure think of viruses also. What is a virus? Of course we all know what a virus might cause to us, like a simple respiratory infection. These are usually caused by viral infections that later are super infected with bacteria. I had a professor who tried to explain us what a virus is. It skips almost any definitions. We can not be sure if we could consider a living thing at all!!! At the end he told us in a laconic way: a virus is a VIRUS! Nothing more.

If we try to find them it is good to know, that they were discovered through the observation that you can transfer an infection from one cell culture to the other even after filtrating the solution through a filter with 0.4 micrometer holes. That means that no bacteria can bypass this filter, but infections can be transferred with this solution. The firs experiments were done in order to monitor these infections, to see that after infection there was a “clean window period”, a period when the infections agent disappeared from the cell culture. After this window the virus reappeared and the supernatant solution had infections properties again.

Today we know plenty of details about viruses. There are basically two flavours of them DNA and RNA viruses. So that is an important point! because we have plenty of molecular biology tools that allow us to characterize nucleic acids. One of the most complex tool from this series is the DNA microarray. As one of my students pointed out last week, in the next video from TED, we can have a wonderful presentation about how these tools can be used in a fast and relatively easy way to get a deeper insight in the world of viruses. As a perspective the video shows us some excellent diagnostic applications that will be probably used to develop state of the art diagnostic tools in the next couple of years.

So, let us see how it works!

More info about the viruses and vaccination, here.