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TWiV 120 Letters

Ashley writes:

Vincent, I am a huge fan of TWIV and thank you and the others for taking time out of your busy schedule to do the program. I have my B.S. in Biology and Chemistry and would love to go back to school. I read textbooks, listen to podcasts from itunesU and so forth because the information about the world around us is free! I am about to begin producing my own podcast and wondered if you would answer a few questions regarding how you go about producing yours. Mine is going to be a library of general science podcasts specifically for Christian Homeschool Students. The point is to provide extra material that can be coupled with their daily lessons, making learning fun. Hope to hear from you soon.

1. What audio editing software do you use?

2. Is there a video editing software you use?

3. How do you do about having multiple guests via Skype?

4. Would you be willing to be a guest on my show once it's up and running?

David writes:


Would you have any recommendations on a good primer into microbiology that I can read or listen to on as an audiobook? I am interested in extremophilic organisms. I'm looking into reading up during the holidays. Thank you.



Microbiologist in training

NC State

Jim writes:

I tried playing the game for about an hour and ran thru the tutorial 3 times. I made one successful match at the lowest level during that time and don't feel I can learn the rules. Just wonder if TWIV participants have tried the game and how they do/did.



Smithfield, VA

David writes:

Dear Twiv folks

I am an assistant professor at Vassar College, just up the Hudson River from you guys. I love twiv and try my best to keep up with the episodes. I teach courses in virology and microbiology and an introductory biology course in which we explore the fundamental principles of biology from the perspective of viruses. Rather than doing broad survey courses for intro biology, each section taught by a different professor is taught from the perspective of their field of interest. Mine is on viruses and their hosts; its great to be able to introduce freshmen to virology right off the bat, and it is actually quite easy to talk about everything important in biology (evolution, genetics, cells etc) while discussing viruses.

I have a blog (which was actually inspired by twiv) and I use it to keep my students thinking about virology outside of the classroom and introduce them to interesting new work going on in virology. Ive also had my students write posts, and Im quite impressed - keep in mind these are freshmen! I want to increase activity on it from people outside the college - it would be great and beneficial for students to know that Im not the only one reading their work, and I bet the quality of their work would increase knowing there is a broader audience.

So Im hoping that you will read this on twiv and send all those millions (or is it billions?) of twiv fans my way.

The blog is called Viva: Virology at Vassar




Biology Department

Vassar College

Damien writes:

Dear Vincent, Dick, Alan, Rich,

I recently saw this article about a former colleague's group that I thought may be of interest. The article is in Swedish (which I can neither read nor speak). I usedtranslate.google.com. I would be interested in your thoughts as to this being another way of targeting influenza. The website is http://lundagard.se/2010/12/08/lundaforskare-kan-losa-influensavirusens-gata/

I really enjoy the TWIV and TWIP, they are great for a Scientist who specialized in Chemistry with a limited amount of Biochemistry who studied Photosynthesis (Oxygen Evolving Centre structure and mechanism) as a graduate student in the Chemistry School.

Keep up the good work.

Best Wishes for Christmas and the New Year,


Melbourne Australia

André writes:

G’day TWIV team,

I love your show!

I have a question on Dengue infection and the severe haemorrhagic fever (DHF) and shock syndrome (DSS) that often occurs upon subsequent infection by another serotype.

I got aware of Sanofi-Pasteur Australia looking for participants for a phase III trial of a “live” dengue vaccine (see attached brochure and link http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01134263). I totally see the need for such a vaccine, however when I read “attenuated live vaccine” I remembered my Strauss and Strauss textbook and your show ep. 82 (Zellweger et al, 2010), stating the fact of enhanced severity of disease upon subsequent dengue infection by another serotype.

It confuses me, especially after the HRSV vaccine debakel, that they pursue what seems to be an avenue that could put vaccinated people in a worse position than unvaccinated. There are also only limited animal models to mimic the severe disease development upon second infection that could help with vaccine development (Zellweger et al., 2010).

I have great faith in the scientific advisory board who regulates clinical trials and also in Sanofi-Pasteur to be aware of this fact, so I must have overlooked something that would eliminate my suspicion.

Q1) The vaccine is tetravalent, covering all known four serotypes. But do you think one can be sure that it will generate a good enough antibody response against all serotypes in all individuals? Do we know all serotype and does our grouping into serotypes make sense with regard to predict DHF/DSS?

Q2) Do you think the vaccine could have been / was tested reliably in an animal model in order to investigate what effect a subsequent natural infection post vaccination would have in terms of the severe disease? Zellweger et al. also couldn’t use a wild type mouse model.

Q3) The participants in that phase III study will not be challenged with virus after vaccination, of course, so only blood work will be available to tell their immunity status. By doing so do you think the status of protection against Dengue (DHF/DSS) can be assessed?

Please help me understand this.

Many thanks!

Kind regards and keep on doing TWIV.


Zellweger et al., 2010 (Discussion)

“Our results confirm in vivo that even neutralizing antibodies have the potential to induce ADE (Mehlhop et al., 2007; Pierson et al., 2007), provided that the occupancy threshold required for neutralization is not reached (Burton, 2002). To be neutralizing, and therefore optimally protective, an antibody must be of high enough affinity for neutralizing epitopes on the surface of the virus, and it must be present in sufficient concentration (Pierson and Diamond, 2008). Failure to fulfill either of these requirements will prevent neutralization. This idea can be applied to sequential DENV infections to explain why antibodies induced by one DENV serotype, although protective against that serotype (Whitehead et al., 2007), may increase the risk of severe disease upon infection with a heterologous serotype due to enhanced infection of cells bearing FcgRs by subneutralized viral particles (Halstead, 2003).”

Dr. André Paul | Postdoctoral Research Officer | Children's Cancer Research Unit


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