|My City © EEG|
|Edinburgh Castle © EEG|
Guarded by firewalls, connected by underground tunnels, nourished by stocks of bioengineered food and the lake’s twenty cubic miles of water, the city of Liasis was an unbreakable fortress to the outside world. Yet pockets of underworld existed within the city, too. Dark alleys where you could trade a joint for cheap sex, where eyes had no color and faces no mouth. Here, the QNet warped into black holes of solitudes: Internet games, cybersex, virtual worlds where lives melted into a multitude of non-existing possibilities, the rabbit hole where Alice kept falling and falling and falling...
Skyler knew such world well. She was once an Alice too, and climbing out of the rabbit hole was the hardest thing she ever did in her life.
“What heated argument? We brainstormed over the next budget report, that’s all. Who gave you that kind of misinformation?”
“We prefer to ask the questions, Doctor,” Satish replied.
Dr. Fredrick Lyons walked fast and in long strides. A gaudy Hawaiian tie and the neon green of the reading glasses swinging from his neck intentionally clashed with his white-shirt, black-suit attire. He had longish gray locks, a short beard trimmed close to the jaw, and shrewd eyes that sized us up impatiently, yet found the time to linger over a nice pair of legs as we strode across the curving corridor back to the office suites. He looked too wealthy not to be opinionated, and too smart to be unpretentious.
“Shit happens, Track. Never forget that.”
“Hard to forget on days like this.”
I rolled down the window and let cool air blow in my face. The freeway droned in the distance, as another night descended upon Los Angeles. Another murder, another killer on the loose.
It was June 2009, the beginning of summer.
Killing season had just started.
"The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is the world's deadliest to date and the World Health Organization has declared an international health emergency as more than 1,000 people have died of the virus in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria this year." [Source: BBC News]The ebola virus was first described in 1976, with outbreaks reported starting from 1967 . It's part of the Filovirus family and its natural reservoir is believed to be fruit bats, though there is evidence that it could be wider than we think. In fact, ebola can infect other animals like monkeys and pigs. Because the virus is transmitted through bodily fluids and it can survive for a few days after the host's death, it can be easily spread through the butchering and consumption of bushmeat.
"While the techniques used here are very similar to those used for HIV-1 mosaic vaccine design, a pattern of repeated introductions of the filoviruses into humans (and primates generally) gives a crucial difference from HIV-1. HIV-1 shows great diversity within the pandemic, but that diversity has developed continuously, leaving intermediate isolates in its wake. In contrast, known filovirus diversity has episodically increased as new outbreaks are found to result from novel viruses, lacking intermediates." The fact that the ebola virus "lacks intermediates" seems to indicate that there are reservoirs that we don't know of where the virus accumulates diversity. This is worrisome: we not only need to protect from the current outbreaks, but also be prepared for new viruses that might emerge in the future. In , Fenimore et al show how the mosaic algorithm can be readapted from HIV to ebola, accounting for the evolutionary differences between the two viruses.
"The implication is that a vaccine against the filoviruses should strive for good coverage of common epitopes from the maximum number of types and strains currently available, in the hope that future outbreaks will retain these elements, so the vaccine will still be effective when challenged by a novel strain in a new outbreak." The authors tested the ebola mosaic vaccine on a mouse model and compared it with a vaccine created with a single natural strain from Zaire. All vaccinated mice in either group (mosaic or natural) survived the challenge. The natural strain vaccine provided 82.8% coverage of other Zaire strains, but only 14.0% coverage of non-Zaire strains. On the other hand, the single mosaic vaccine provided 54.7% coverage of other Zaire strains (still sufficient to protect the mice from infection) and 23.2% coverage of non-Zaire ebola virus strains, proving that a mosaic can indeed improve protection against different subtypes. Furthermore, comparing a cocktail of a two-mosaic vaccine with a two-protein natural cocktail and a vaccine that was previously tested in macaques (Hensley et al., 2010), the mosaic cocktail achieved the highest coverage.