Sometimes in science no news is good news

Sometimes finding out what doesn?t matter in science is just as important as finding what does. That?s the case for a study that looked at the function of the viral protein, MTase1. Researchers found that the rate of virus replication in tissue culture was not affected when MTase1 was removed. The finding is important as researchers look for what proteins are essential and how they function in cells, potentially providing answers to everything from insect control to the control of human diseases such as smallpox.

Researchers find oral transmission of HIV possible

When exposed to high levels of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the cells lining the mouth can develop a low-level infection, a finding that increases our understanding of the risks of oral transmission of the disease. Researchers from Charles R. Drew University and the University of California, Los Angeles, report their findings in the March 2003 issue of the Journal of Virology. “The majority of HIV type 1 infections occur via mucosal contact, and there are several reports indicating that the oral mucosa may be one route of exposure,” say the researchers. “It is difficult to confirm that oral mucosa is a major transmission portal because of the correlation between oral-genital contact and other transmission risk behaviors.”

Antibodies critical for fighting West Nile Virus infection

Researchers have found that immune cells called B cells and the antibodies they produce play a critical early role in defending the body against West Nile Virus. The results are published in the February issue of the Journal of Virology. Mice that lacked B cells and antibodies were completely unable to combat the virus. They developed serious brain and spinal-cord infection and ultimately died.