The protein that forms the protective capsid surrounding the West Nile virus genetic material may contribute to the deadly inflammation associated with the virus. West Nile virus, which has rapidly spread across the United States, causes neurological symptoms and encephalitis, which can result in paralysis or death. According to researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, the West Nile virus capsid (WNV-Cp) is a destructive protein that can trigger apoptosis – the automatic self-destructive program within cells – inside infected cells, possibly adding to the damage caused by the virus. Their findings are presented in the December issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases, a journal available on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Web site.
"Despite the fact that West Nile virus is a global health threat, we understand very little of the pathogenesis of the disease caused by this virus," said David Weiner, PhD, associate professor in Penns Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. "Since there is currently no specific treatment for West Nile virus, it is important to understand the biology of this virus to help us devise vaccines and new treatments for the West Nile virus infection."
According to the CDC, the West Nile virus has infected over 3700 people and killed over 200, mostly elderly, people since it was first introduced to the United States in 1999. The numbers of those infected, however, may be much higher since the disease often takes a mild form in healthy people who are less likely to seek treatment and the CDC numbers only count for those cases known to state medical agencies. The virus is spread primarily through its insect host, the mosquito, although it is now known to spread through mothers breast milk and organ transplantations.
Greg Lester | EurekAlert!
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The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
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Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
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The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.
Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...
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