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Virus

  1. Science

    New Virus Could Stop Houseflies From Breeding, Landing On Your Lunch

    Summer time is just around the corner, which means that house fly season is about to get really real. Out here on the east coast, we're more worried about the plague of locusts cicadas that's about to descend upon us, but flies are certainly no treat either. Thanks to the miracles of modern science though, you may one day be able to put down the swatter and relax without worrying about some insect rubbing its disease ridden hands all over your food. That's because a team of scientists at the Agricultural Research Service have identified a virus that renders flies incapable of breeding and could help to curb populations of the creatures in the future.

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  2. Science

    From Bad to Worse: Herpes Virus Damages Memory, Cognition

    Today, a study in the journal Neurology brings the surprising news that having herpes could be even worse than you think it is. The chronic, cold sore-causing virus may also wreak havoc on the brain, with a recent study conducted by Columbia University and the University of Miami suggesting that people suffering from high levels of infection with herpes and other common viruses may be more likely to suffer cognitive decline as they age than their uninfected peers.

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  3. Tech

    Android Malware Moves From Phone to PC, Listens in on You With Your Own Microphone

    The cyber-security wonks at Kaspersky have raised the alarm on a piece of malware for Android phones. The real target of the virus, though, isn't the phone -- it's the computer users will plug it into. The malware, which was available until recently in the Google Play store, masquerades as simple Android phone clean up apps going by the (slightly ironic) names SuperClean and DroidCleaner. Once the apps made it onto a computer, though, they doesn't clean up so much as clean house, copying sensitive data like photos and contact information to remote servers. That's not unnerving enough for you? Don't worry -- to turn the creep factor up to 11, the malware is also capable of turning on PC microphones to listen in on users and relay along those recordings to its shadowy overlords.

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  4. Science

    Watch This Animation of How a Virus Finds the Best Place to Infect a Cell [Video]

    The process that the viruses use to infect cells has been observed in new detail for the first time by researchers at the University of Texas, and as you might expect, it is super creepy. Keep reading for a video simluation of the process, in which the virus unfolds six hairlike feelers from its body -- like some terrible, invading War of the Worlds mech -- as it attaches to a cell, and then uses them to walk along the cell surface, probing and prodding until it finds the perfect site to deliver its infectious payload, turning an unsuspecting cell into a living nightmare death machine built only to create more viruses. On the plus side, this is strangely comforting, as it means that viruses work pretty much exactly like they do in our heads -- in the most troubling manner possible. On the minus side? EUUUUUUGGGGHHHH.

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  5. Science

    Striking Image of Virus Wreaking Havoc

    The striking image above, captured by University of Sydney researchers, shows the vaccinia virus -- the vaccine used to beat smallpox -- spreading from one cell to a whole layer of cells in a monkey's kidney.

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  6. Science

    Common Cold Could Kick Cancer’s Keister

    I think we can agree that the common cold sucks. I also think we can agree that it doesn't suck nearly as badly as cancer. Researchers at the Salk Institute, though, may be on the trail of a way to turn the lesser of these two evils into a weapon in the fight against the other. This week, a study in the journal Cell reports that the Salk team has taken steps toward hijacking the common cold's ability to disable immune responses within cells. That could lead to engineered cold viruses that hunt down and destroy cancer cells, while leaving healthy cells in peace.

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  7. Science

    We Need To Go Deeper: Researchers Discover Multiple New Viruses In One Woman’s Disgusting Contact Lens Case

    A team of French doctors got more than they bargained for while trying to solve the mystery of what was causing eye inflammation in one of their patients. On examining her contact lens case, they discovered the culprit -- a simple amoeba. On closer inspection, though, that amoeba held no shortage of surprising discoveries, not the least of which was an entirely new species of giant virus, dubbed Lentille. Some diligent poking around inside Lentille, though, showed that it wasn't travelling alone.

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  8. Science

    World’s Largest Virus Appropriately Named “Megavirus”

    It's huge, it's hairy, and it reproduces by infecting other bacteria. It's Megavirus chilensis, and it has been confirmed as the world's largest virus. Discovered off the coast of Las Cruces, Chile, Megavirus is about 10-20 times larger than the average virus. Measuring in at an astounding 0.7 micrometres, it's large enough to be seen with only a conventional microscope and not an electron microscope. The oceanic virus beats out the previous largest virus, Mimivirus, which was discovered in a UK water tank in 1992. Thankfully for humans, Megavirus isn't interested in hijacking our cells for its reproductive needs. Researchers think that Megavirus' prey of choice are bacteria. Like Mimivirus, Megavirus is covered with fine, hair-like structures that the team thinks are used to lure unsuspecting bacterial prey. Strangely, Megavirus is so large that it dwarfs some bacteria in sheer size.

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  9. Tech

    Keylogger Virus Found on Drone Pilots’ Computers

    A recent story in Wired claims that the operators of the Reaper and Predator drone fleets are struggling against an enemy we can all relate to: Malware. According to the story's sources, which are unnamed, the computers used to remotely control drones around the world have been infected with a nasty keylogger that is resisting efforts to destroy it. If the article's sources can be believed, the problem is centered around a drone control facility at Nevada's Creech Air Force Base. Pilots on the base use computers to fly drones on missions in Pakistan, Afganistan, and around the world. With more and more missions being flown by these armed robotic aircraft, facilities like Creech have become hubs of activity for reconnaissance and more lethal operations. For security purposes, the computers on the base are not connected to the Internet in order to avoid any chance they could become infected. However, the Creech facility was one of the few places the Department of Defense (DoD) allowed USB flash drives to be used in order to transfer mission data between computers. It's believed that this special allowance was the point of entry for the keylogger virus, though its not clear if it was intentionally placed on the infected computers. This is, obviously, bad news for the Air Force, but it might not be as horrific as it seems.

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  10. Science

    New AIDS Research Raises Hopes for Potential Vaccine

    Scientists at Johns Hopkins University say that they've developed a method that strips the AIDS virus of its deceptive abilities and could potentially allow the human body to fight off the disease. The research, published in the journal Blood, is a tantalizing breakthrough that researchers hope could someday lead to an effective vaccine against the disease, which kills about 1.8 million people every year. The new research is based on how the virus disguises itself from the human immune system and disrupts that system's ability to communicate effectively. The virus accomplishes this by stealing cholesterol from the "first responder" cells called plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs). These cells normally signal T-cells, the body's heavy artillery, to defeat invaders. Instead, the AIDS virus "reprograms" pDCs to become hyperactive, which in inhibits the body's ability to fight off the virus. This new technique removes that cholesterol envelope from the virus, leaving the virus more or less defenseless.

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  11. Science

    MIT Researchers Announce Broad Spectrum Treatment For Viral Infections

    Some of the biggest human health threats facing the world today come from viruses which can cause anything from the common cold to deadly hemorrhagic fevers like Ebola. Over the years, researchers have struggled to find an efficient way to treat viral infections, leaving many people to struggle with disease. Now, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have announced the creation of a broad spectrum treatment for viral infections that works by killing just the cells in the body infected with the virus. The research was led by a team from MIT's Lincoln Laboratory and was published in the journal PLoS One. Invented by researcher Todd Rider, the treatment is a drug called DRACOs (Double-stranded RNA Activated Caspase Oligomerizers). It was tested on human cells in a lab and in mice against 15 different viruses and was effective against all of them, including the common cold, H1N1 (swine flu), influenza, polio, and dengue fever.

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