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TWiM 27 Letters

Bill writes:

I was fascinated by your conversation about government censorship of science (TWiM 24). To further criticize the government's move, I'd like to point out that the Soviet's bioweapons program has been leaked in bits and pieces over the years, yet we don't see terrorists able to recreate those projects. In fact, aspiring bioterrorists find themselves recruiting Soviet era scientists rather than doing it themselves, which suggests the information alone is not dangerous. Here are three examples:

1. Putting B. anthracis pXO1 and pXO2 plasmids into B. subtilis, a common flora
2. Splicing in myelin genes into viruses to induce MS in survivors
3. Creating chimeras between VEE and smallpox

Perhaps you could do a TWIM on biodefense?

Richard writes:

Hi Vincent and gang

Listening to the end of the last episode, you mention the possibility
of there being phage that pack magnetite, from magneto tactic

I think this is something that I could do, just for fun. I'm assuming
that the phage can be separated by filtration, then concentrated by
magnetic means, and the resulting material (if any), could then be
added to some of the bacteria. If phage are present then, a good
proportion of the bacteria should be killed, hopefully this provides
detection, since I lack anything but simple equipment.

I thought would ask, is this reasonable?

If so, can anyone suggest where I could get information on culture of
magneto tactic bacteria. Getting hold of some sounds easy enough, but
someone (sorry I don't recall who) said that growing them is not
trivial. Any info, or pointers to sources of information would be

Many thanks for the great group of podcasts. Keep up the good work!




I have filled out the listener survey, but being in the UK, I'm not do penis enlargement pills work
sure how much that helps.

Trudy writes:

Dear TWiM doctors,

I am an enthusiastic Virologist who has recently become fascinated
with Immunology.  In addition, inspired by Vincent’s thirst for all
knowledge, I have started listening to TWiM in an effort to bridge the
vast gap in my knowledge and be less of a virus snob.  TWiP is next!

I just finished listening to TWiM episode 22, where you discussed
microbial infections encountered in the emergency room.  You talked
about how wiping out the normal gut flora with an antibiotic can
encourage the overgrowth of C. difficile, and how this can cause some
people to eventually have to lose their colon.  I was very shocked by
this information, especially when you mentioned that Clindamycin was a
common antibiotic that could cause this kind of imbalance in gut
flora.  Over the past few years I have used a Clindamycin foam to
treat a life-long acne problem.  While this treatment is topical, I am
aware that many topically administered drugs can have systemic
effects.  Could you please provide some insight into the possible long
term side effects of this drug?

Thank you so much!


P.S. While you don’t do weekly picks on TWiM, I would like to
recommend The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson.  It is a highly captivating
account of the cholera epidemic in 19th century London.

Emerson writes:
I saw this rather fanciful notion and thought I'd pass it along to you fine gentlemen.

Howard writes:
After listening to the fascinating podcast (TWIM #26) on the possible involvement of microbes and autism, I ran across the following article  ( ) discussed in the Winter newsletter of the International Probiotics Association. The links between neurological and immunological issues grow more numerous.

Howard Cash, Ph.D.
Ganeden Biotech
Mayfield Heights. OH

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