Size Doesn't Matter

Bacteria and viruses generally bring unpleasant thoughts to mind: having the flu, maybe, or food poisoning. However, these little guys have a positive place in our lives, like the microbes in our gut that keep us healthy. Amazingly, they may also hold the key to the future of cancer therapy. While scientists generally study human diseases in mice, rats, or even monkeys, nature’s tiniest beings have special properties we can learn from and harness for cancer treatment. Let’s go on a journey through three such examples – showing that when it comes to biological capability, size doesn’t matter.

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Ebola is a bad candidate for a global pandemic, and here's why

The ongoing outbreak of Ebola is a potentially global catastrophe, currently affecting multiple countries in West Africa. Concerns over the epidemic have been exacerbated by the emergence of travel-associated cases of the disease — a patient was diagnosed in the United States, and subsequently a healthcare worker who provided care to this patient also tested positive for Ebola. The United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), and other national and international health agencies are all on high alert, and news organizations encourage the general public to exist in a state of fear over the potential of a global Ebola pandemic. But just how much of this concern is justified?

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Opening the Pandoravirus Box: what do very large viruses tell us about viral origins?

Just what is a virus, and where did they come from? Considering that the field of virology dates back to the mid 1800s, it may come as a surprise that these questions are still controversial, and yet, they are. Recently, a team of French scientists discovered viruses of a size and complexity never seen before, and this discovery has been highly disruptive to the controversy.

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