ASM News, Journal Articles and Updates


New ASM Career Portal Launched
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The Career Development Committee recently launched its new ASM Career Portal, a website dedicated to facilitating career planning for microbiologists at all levels.

New From ASM Press
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“Exposure: A Guide to Sources of Infections,” by Dieter Stürchler, Basel University, Basel, and StüchlerEpidemiologics, Büren, Switzerland, is a single reference source for clinicians, public health professionals, epidemiologists, and clinical microbiologists working to identify infectious disease agents. From prions to parasites, this unique new volume offers comprehensive coverage of infections and infectious agents and provides a good starting point for compiling a thorough patient exposure history and initiating the appropriate laboratory testing.

“Biological Safety: Principles and Practices, 4th Edition,” Editors: Diane O. Fleming, Biosafety Consultant; Debra L. Hunt, Duke University Health System. The fourth edition of Biological Safety: Principles and Practices continues the format of the previous edition, focusing closely on infectious and toxic biological agents and their identification and control. Written by authorities with decades of experience in the field, this newest edition examines significant developments throughout the field and discusses current regulations including those from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The chapters outline the human, animal, and agricultural considerations of a wide range of specific biohazards, from pathogenic organisms, viruses, prions, and cell cultures, to toxins and allergens. Numerous chapters detail practical systems for biohazard control. A brand-new chapter details critical safety considerations in a maximum containment (BSL-4) laboratory. Appropriate updates have been made to chapters carried over from the third edition, and a host of new contributors offer fresh perspectives on topics such as packaging and shipping of biological materials.

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FluChip May Offer Rapid Detection of Multiple Influenza Virus Strains
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Researchers from the Unites States have developed a new diagnostic method capable of rapid identification of influenza A and B subtypes that may ultimately reduce the impact of a potential influenza pandemic. They report their finding in the August 2006 issue of the Journal of Clinical Microbiology.

In this blind study, researchers used the FluChip-55 microarray to test 72 influenza virus isolates for A and B subtypes including H1N1, H3N2, as well as avian A/H5N1 which has become enzootic in poultry in certain parts of the world. In less than twelve hours, combined results provided correct types and subtypes for approximately 72% of the isolates and the correct type and partially correct subtype for 13% of the isolates. Incomplete subtyping in most cases was attributed to failure relating to nucleic acid amplification as opposed to testing limitations.

“By using the FluChip-55 microarray in conjunction with a well-established RNA amplification method, RNA from viruses of interest, including influenza viruses A/H1N1, A/H3N2, and A/H5N1 and influenza B virus, was typed and subtyped in 11 hours,” say the researchers. “The ability to rapidly identify new, potentially pandemic strains of influenza virus will allow health care officials to more rapidly respond and, potentially, reduce the spread and human impact of the disease.”

(M.B. Townsend, E.D. Dawson, M. Mehlmann, J.A. Smagala, D.M. Dankbar, C.L. Moore, C.B. Smith, N.J. Cox, R.D. Kuchta, K.L. Rowlen. 2006. Experimental evaluation of the FluChip diagnostic microarray for influenza virus surveillance. Journal of Clinical Microbiology, 44. 8: 2863-2871.)

New Vaccine Protects Pigs from Nipah Virus
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Researchers from the United States and abroad suggest for the first time that a canarypox virus-based vaccine protects pigs from Nipah virus infection. Their findings appear in the August 2006 issue of the Journal of Virology.

Nipah virus (NiV) was isolated and identified in Malaysia in 1999 following an outbreak of human encephalitis believed to be transmitted from pigs to humans. Research indicates that the virus may have emerged as early at 1996 or 1997 but due to nonspecific clinical signs and low mortality it went undetected. Due to its undetermined route of transmission to humans, high virulence, and lack of vaccine or treatment, the virus is also currently classified as a BSL-4 agent.

In the study pigs were vaccinated with a canaryppox-virus based vaccine containing the NiV gene and then boosted after 14 days. Two weeks later they were challenged with the Nipah virus and results showed that all vaccinated animals appeared to be protected, the virus was not found in the tissue of any of the immunized pigs. In contrast, the virus was identified in challenge control pigs.

“The present study indicates that the tested recombinant canarypox (ALVAC-vectored) NiV vaccine candidates have the potential to protect pigs from disease and to restrict virus replication and nasal and pharyngeal shedding, thereby strictly limiting the chance for spread of the virus to uninfected animals/individuals,” say the researchers.

(H.M. Weingartl, Y. Berhane, J.L. Caswell, S. Loosmore, J.C. Audonnet, J.A. Roth, M. Czub. 2006. Recombinant Nipah virus vaccines protect pigs against challenge. Journal of Viroloy, 80. 16: 7929-7938.)