For some time I have thought about reviewing this year’s topics on virology blog in 2001, not only to get a sense of what I thought was significant, but more importantly, to highlight areas that need more coverage. I went through all the articles I wrote in 2011, put them in subject categories, and listed them by number of articles. The results are both obvious and surprising.
I wrote most frequently about the retrovirus XMRV and its possible role in chronic fatigue syndrome and prostate cancer. This extensive coverage was warranted because we had an opportunity to learn how disease etiology is established, followed by development of therapeutics. By the end of the year we learned that XMRV does not cause human disease, but the journey to that point was highly instructive.
- Authors retract paper on detection of murine leukemia virus-releated sequences in CFS patients
- Science retracts paper on detection of XMRV in CFS patients
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and the CDC: A Long, Tangled Tale (by David Tuller)
- Admit when you are wrong
- Trust science, not scientists
- Murine gammaretroviruses in prostate cancer cell lines
- XMRV is a recombinant virus from mice
- Ian Lipkin on XMRV
- Ila Singh finds no XMRV in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome
- Authenticity of XMRV integration sites
- XMRV infection of Rhesus macaques
- Derek Lowe on how science gets done
- Retroviral integration and the XMRV provirus
The next most frequently visited topic on virology blog was influenza. Writing often about this virus makes sense because it is a common human infection that occurs every year, and controlling it is a continuing goal of virology research.
- A bad day for science
- A $707 million investment in cell-based influenza vaccine
- Ferreting out influenza H5N1
- How good is the influenza vaccine?
- David and Goliath: How one cytokine may take down influenza (by Alexandra Jacunski)
- Gut microbes influence defense against influenza
There were five posts noting the death of virologists, colleagues, or someone I thought made a substantial impact on my career.
- Steve Jobs, 1955-2011
- Har Gobind Khorana, master decoder
- Bernard F. Erlanger, 88
- Robert A. Weisberg, 1937-2011
- Baruch S. Blumberg, MD, 1925-2011
- Edwin D. Kilbourne, MD, 1920-2011
I wrote more about poliovirus than any other virus except XMRV and influenza. Eradication of poliomyelitis continues to be difficult and faces periodic setbacks.
- Wild poliovirus in China
- Thirty years of infectious enthusiasm
- Transgenic mice susceptible to poliovirus
- Poliomyelitis after a twelve year incubation period
I only wrote three articles about topics in basic virology.
Like many others, I find the biggest viruses and their virophages compelling.
- Megavirus, the biggest known virus (Jean-Michel Claverie, one of the discoverers of Mimivirus and Megavirus, wrote “Your paper is a well summarized account of the main points raised by the discovery of Megavirus chilensis and its amazing gene content. Great job.”
- Brent Johnson on virophage
- Virophages engineer the ecosystem
- Virophage, the virus eater
The past year saw the release of Contagion, a movie about a virus outbreak. Look for an analysis on TWiV in 2012.
The state of science education and science funding is becoming more of a concern. It is not a topic I write about often – I prefer to focus on the science of virology – but for future scientists it is extremely important.
The other posts covered a variety of topics and viruses, including HIV, human papilloma viruses, hepatitis C virus, and smallpox virus.
- PopularizaÃ§Ã£o da ciÃªncia atraves de podcast
- Virologist replaces Steve Jobs at Apple
- The viruses in your food
- Ten seminal virologists
- Microbiology blogs
- Viral desserts
- Women AND men beware: HPV, the culprit behind more than just cervical cancers? (by Bethany DiPrete)
- Virology at the Deutsches Museum
- Infectious salmon anemia virus spread from Norway to Chile
- Live tweeting of the ASV meeting
- Happy as a clam? Maybe not. (by Adriana Lopez)
- Viruses go green (by Ian Blubaugh)
- Canine hepacivirus, a relative of hepatitis C virus
- Not-so-similar fate of identical twins infected with HIV-1 (by Amanda Carpenter)
- Dickson Despommier’s Parasitic Diseases lectures
- Retroviruses and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- The press concludes that arboviruses can be sexually transmitted
- Should smallpox virus be destroyed?
- Is Vilyuisk encephalitis a viral disease?
- Replicability of scientific results
What have I learned from looking back? The best covered viruses – XMRV, influenza, and poliovirus – deserve the attention. I am surprised that there were so few articles on important viruses such as HIV, HCV, rotaviruses, and herpesviruses. That shortcoming will have to change. I did not write enough about basic virology. One could argue that teaching a virology course is enough – but I think that concise, informative articles on basic virology are very useful. I’ll try to do more of that in 2012. There is one topic I’d like to write less about, but over which I have little control – the passing of scientists.
Thank you for coming here to learn about virology.
7 thoughts on “This year in virology”
As we know that Mikovits Ruscetti Lo and Alter only ever provided evidence of polytropic MRVs (PMRVs) and no other papers ever optimised an assay to detect those viruses, only using VP62 which is synthetic representation of XMRV, but is not a strain ever found in nature. Â Then do you not think it is time for researchers to start looking for those viruses instead of continuing the wild goose chase for VP62? Â We can’t really have this investigation stopped after two positive papers based upon one multi lab study that is also as any other study prone to errors in study design. Â The blood working group paper highlighted how easily this can occur, through the inclusion of people as controls who could never have been declared negative.
I think it is 2011 and not 2001 Professor 😉
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Thank you Dr.Â Racaniello for all you do to help us learn and understand Virology! It’s been an interesting year! I wouldÂ definitelyÂ like to hear more of what is going on with HIV in 2012! Keep up the good work! Happy New year!
The Blood Group study actually showed that Mikovits and pals were incapable of reproducing their own results. Â Not only did they fail to identify the same samples as “positive”, they could not get consistent results within their own labs between the triplicate iterations of the samples they found to be “positive”. Â In other words, their assays were crap and so were their results. Â If you’re going to try the “VP62” meme, at least know the details about the rest of the study. Â Lo and Mikovits’ groups were allowed to use whatever assays they felt were the best for that study. Â Their assays were not reproducible. Â Their results are, at best, completely unreliable.
Your podcast is very refreshing and educational for me being overseas and working within a quite small and isolated virology group. Thanks Prof. Racaniello. All the best for 2012!
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