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)
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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.

7 thoughts on “TWiV 129: We’ve got mail”

  1. 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.

  2. “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

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