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Letters

TWiP 12 Letters

Maria writes:

Dear Dr. Dickson Despommier and Dr. Vincent Racaniello

I am a microbiologist. I studied in Colombia and after finishing my bachelor's I moved to New York city in 2007. All my life I have been fascinated about microorganisms. Some weeks ago I found an interesting blog about social media and microbiology, a talk that Dr. Racaniello gave in Scotland not so long ago. Listening to his approaches in the study of viruses and the use of media in his teaching to bring information to his students and other people in different ways got my attention.

I am one of those who think that knowledge is the backbone of success and more important to be able to share this knowledge is the key for a successful society.

After listening to his speech, I found twiv and then I found twiP... wow!!! what amazing podcast!!!! I start listening to TwiP and now I have become addicted to your voices and learning from you two.

The first episode of TwiP Dr. Despommier talked about his beginnings as a parasitologist and you made me remember my professor in college, Dr. CJ Marinkelle. He was an excellent professor from The Netherlands who has taught in Colombia for decades and I had the privilege of being one of his students. He used to tell us stories about parasites in Africa when he was practicing medicine back in the 1940's, the same way as you did in the last episode about sparganosis.

As I told you, I studied microbiology in my country. My desire is to do a PhD and be able to work in research. This idea has been always in my mind, unfortunately I have not been lucky enough to get into the programs that I have applied. However, I am a little stubborn and I keep pursuing this dream. As Dr. Despommier said..." sometimes when one door closes another door may open". In the meantime I have volunteered in Cornell Medical College and in NYU, working with Plasmodium falciparum.

I just want to say thanks for this amazing team that you two have there, and for bringing us a wonderful time every two weeks in TwiP and every week in TwiV.

Thanks

Maria

Don writes:

I was reading my second favorite blog:

Bruce Schneier http://www.schneier.com/, which is about security, especially computer-related security, and which I highly recommend.

Today, there is an entry entitled Insect-Based Terrorism, relating the tale of a conference at the University of Florida promoting fears of a terrorist attack based on mosquitoes or some other insect disease vector. As I read this piece, I found myself wishing I had the depth of knowledge you guys can bring to a topic like this. If you have a chance, maybe you could take a look at this and, perhaps dispel a myth or two.

The Twiv podcast is definitely my favorite bloggish information feed, and I listen to it on my long commute just as soon as I can download it.

Twip would be right up there, but I find myself succombing to the ick factor and often delay a few days before listening to it. Somehow viruses don't do it, but I can't listen to Dick talk about worms without feeling them squirming about in my guts. I sure am glad I don't have loads of parasites, but my imagination runs away every time, and for a while I am sure I have whatever icky new parasite Dick is talking about.

I have long been fascinated by biology, and love listening to you. You have inspired me to treat myself to a subscription to Nature as a Christmas present, and while I don't have time to read it all, I am proud that I can manage to read at least a sampling all the way back to
the Letters.
--
Don


Greg writes:

I heard about your show while listening to Futures In Biotech. After listening to the episode about Malaria, I posted on Twitter that I thought you two were the Abbott and Costello of Parasitism. I can't believe that my new favorite show concerns something I know nothing about and was totally disinterested in until I heard Dickson's story about Frog legs in TWIP #8. Thank you so much for both the information and entertaining style of the show.

Greg


Douglas writes:

Hi Guys,


Great work with TWiV and TWiP - best science podcasts out there.

An interesting link you might like is Parasite of the Day. You've probably heard of it already though.

PS.

I've been cringing recently whenever you pronounce Edinburgh as "EDIN-BOW-RO". It's "EDIN-BRUH" :D

Regards,

Douglas

Etienne writes:

Hello Dick and Vincent,

I love the show and I can't wait for every new release. I find it both informative and entertaining.

One question I have is why there is one type of parasite that seem to be missing from your discussions? Plants have parasite too and can be parasites, but they do not seem to fit in the classification system introduced in the early shows. It's true that they are not important in a disease sense but some of them have significant economical impacts.

A common example of a plant parasite is the mistletoe that germinate and burrow in tree branches to connect to the plant circulatory system.

A more agriculturally relevant example is the striga, a root parasite of many major crops that reduce productivity significantly.

An other popular example is the Rafflesia arnoldii or corps flower the biggest single flower in the world. That entire genus is composed of endoparasite of a genus of tropical vines.

I find parasitic plants a fascinating subject but sadly they seem to be to often forgotten by parasitologist. I hope TWIP will in the future approach the subject.

Etienne


William writes:

Dear respected colleagues,

Your have heard from me before. I am the private physician who discussed your liberal/progressive political bias. I loved your human interest story of the young woman who died of malaria with the collapsing dominoes ending in cardiac resus and splenic rupture. That is the best way to communicate to young physicians. I never forgot those teachers who told those stories or my own similar experiences.

I trained at LA County General/USC. Much of my experience was with illegal immigrants. All of the drug resistant TB was coming in from Mexico/illegal immigrants in addition to many other illinesses including leprosy. Do you think the present Obama administration approach to illegal immigration (threatening the citizens of Arizona) is in the best health interests of the citizens of Arizona and America? Or did I misread the "terrible situation in Arizona".? I am a strong supporter of immigration - legal. If your children were at risk from drug resistant TB in grade school, might your stance be different?

I used an analogy when teaching HIV. Naive T-cells had to go to thymus U. They had to pass one test and fail another or they were disposed of. You get the idea.

Very respectfully,

William

Jim writes:

Night soil is used as fertilizer in some countries but not in the US because of health concerns about parasites and disease transmission. Have any countries developed simple methods of curing night soil to eliminate this hazard?

I understand that while urine is part of night soil, it's not considered a health concern as are feces. Is that correct? With all the supplements I take it seems that one of the best fertilizers for my garden may be my own urine. It would sure help offset the pharmaceutical cost and be a great recycling concept. On the other hand dog pee kills grass, so must any urine be aged or cured...? Does using urine sound reasonable?

Jim

TWiP 11 letters

Sophie writes:

Hi Dick and Vincent,

I still love both of your podcasts and was very pleased when Dick referred to Claudius as I love the books about him. This malaria themed podcast made me realize that the historical part of parasitism is so interesting (I'm talking about the really old stuff), and although it is very difficult to say much about this, I would really like to know more about parasitology and their influence on history.

- Sophie

Erin writes:

Dear Vincent and Dick,

I have been fervently enjoying your podcasts since I learned about them a few months ago from Rich Condit himself. I am a grad student at University of Florida and I am on a training grant that he is involved with. I have been trying my best to catch up with your TWIV episodes, and I was delighted when you started TWIP. I study a protozoan parasite called Babesia bovis, which I bet Dick is aware of (believe me, most people are not).

I just listened to the TWIV episode in which Dr. Condit tells you about our seminar program where students get to present the speakers' papers to them after the talk. Wouldn't you know, I am one of the lucky students who gets to present to you! Of course I did not realize this at the time I was assigned to you - I was just annoyed that most of the speakers were virologists (not a single parasitologist, how surprising...!) and terrified because I know so little about virology. Presently I feel slightly better about the virology aspect after listening to so many of your informative and entertaining podcasts. However, you have become somewhat of a celebrity to me but don't yet know I exist, which I was beginning to feel a little weird about. Hence, this email.

I am very excited to meet you and I think you should bring Dick along. I will take him fishing in my canoe!

Also, I have a suggestion for a podcast topic, which could actually be covered on either TWIV or TWIP. The particular aspect of Babesia bovis that I study is its ability to undergo rapid antigenic variation, which I'm sure you know is not unique to this organism. I think people would be interested to hear about antigenic variation and how it allows pathogens to evade the host immune response. Also, you could talk about antigenic shift and drift, and the differences between those three events. Sorry if you've already covered this topic - like I said, I haven't quite caught up yet.

Like Dr. Condit, I enjoy your podcasts most while on my daily bicycle commute. I truly appreciate the opportunity you've given me to learn something during this otherwise uneventful part of my day. My other favorite podcast is "This American Life" - if you haven't heard it, please give it a listen. In fact there is an episode (no. 404) called "Behind Enemy Lines" that has two stories about parasites, including one about a man who purposefully acquires hookworm (by stomping around in tropical third-world country latrines) to ease his allergies and asthma.

Sorry for all the rambling, thanks again, and I very much look forward to meeting you.

Cheers!

-Erin-

p.s. One of my cats is chronically infected with tapeworms despite my best efforts to eradicate them. I find lots of little proglottids in her favorite sleeping spots, and sometimes I find 2-4 inch long, flat, crusty worm segments that look like rice noodles. I'd be happy to save one for you!

anonymous writes:

I am a little behind on both TWIV and TWIP, but as I was listing to the trichinella, while collating appendices,  I had a thought.  I have read/heard over the years that the lack of parasites in our society is related to the high incidence of allergies and autoimmune diseases.

I will fully admit this may be a stupid question..

 

When looking into making vaccines for parasites (as Dick mentioned has been done), has it ever been considered as a way to stimulate the immune response (without causing any disease) to help prevent/treat allergies and autoimmune diseases?  Just thought it was an interesting idea.

anonymous writes:

I listen to at least a dozen podcasts regularly and sometimes I don't have time for every episode, but TWIP and TWIV are two that I never skip.  I'm always entertained and always learn something.  It's  not at all related to my present occupation, (electrical engineer working on rockets), but maybe that's why it's especially interesting because it's so different.

1) Question:  I'd be interested if you could cover diseases that we can get from our pets as I have several dogs and a couple of little kids.  I wonder what kinds of scary parasites you can describe that can help keep me up at night worrying.  At least we are in Arizona so we don't have many fleas or ticks around ( I guess it gets too hot?)

2) Tip:  http://www.giantmicrobes.com/ Check out this website and the cool stuffed bugs, germs, viruses etc.  Stuffed bears are entirely over represented in the stuffed toy world.

PS.  I need TWIP to be more frequent.  Please.  Thanks for all the time you guys put in to this.  It's very much appreciated.

PPS.  If you ever change your tag line at the end it could be " Another TWIP... is in your brain"<

Duncan writes:

Guys,

I thought this news item might interest you:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/05/13/2898296.htm?section=justin

"Health authorities are warning of the dangers of eating slugs as a Sydney man battles a rare form of meningitis.

The 21-year-old caught rat lungworm disease after he ate a slug as a dare some time ago.

He is now in a critical condition in hospital.

The disease is caused by a parasitic worm that is carried by slugs and snails.

In some instances, the worm can cause fatal swelling of the brain and spinal chord.

Doctor Jeremy McAnulty from New South Wales Health says these cases are rare and most people can recover.

"It goes away by itself because the body's immune system will eventually get rid of it," he said.

The disease can also be caught from raw vegetables or fruit which have not been washed properly."

Cheers, Duncan

Australia

Vincent writes:

Folks,

I am sure someone has sent in this article, but I thought I would bring it to your attention if not.

http://www.news.com.au/national/man-battles-for-life-after-eating-slug/story-e6frfkvr-1225866012092

Keep up the wonderfully good work on both podcasts!

-Vincent

Michael writes:

http://www.news.com.au/national/man-battles-for-life-after-eating-slug/story-e6frfkvr-1225866012092

Man eat a raw slug and gets the rat lungworm

Michael writes:

Since we can't get enough of TWIP, I have started a facebook group on Parasites and Parasitology. Feel free to cross post on it and spread the word.  I have linked this website to the group and perhaps you would do the same.

Kind regards

Dr. Michael

John writes:

I love both TWIP and TWIV, but I need more frequent TWIP podcasts!!  Too much waiting gives me digestional problems.  So, due to my failing health, I need more frequent TWIP productions (much more, if possible).  Of course I don't have a Doctor's note, but I am working to get into the Microbiology Ph.D. program at UF and I can't handle the extra stress ;)  Hook us up, guys, we need our "fix."

Thank you for the awesome shows

Nora writes:

Hello Drs. Racaniello and Despommier,

I am an avid listener to TWiV and just recently am catching up on TWiP.  I work in the Biotech field, formerly in clinical viral production and now antibody production.  I specialize in large-ish cell based production I suppose.  well virology will always be close to my heart.

 

Anyway, I have a couple of comments for TWiP, I have only listened to the first couple of episodes so hopefully no other listeners have beat me to this.

On the first podcast you said that there are no parasites larger than insects.  I believe I have thought up and exception.  The cuckoo bird would be a parasite.  Wikipedia lists it as a "brood parasite".  I would love to be the first listener to have though of this as you have a very intelligent listenership! :)

In the second podcast you discussed Ivermectin, just an interesting side note, this is also used extensively for horses.  It is part of the "wormer rotation" used against round worms, bots, etc.  (my bachelors degree is in Equine science).

I wonder if you wouldnt do an episode on Tuberculous.  I find this disease very interesting and it is making a world wide comeback.

Thank you, keep up the great work,

Nora

TWiP 10 letters

Beki writes:
I am a second year graduate student, and the lab that I joined works on Leishmania and Trypanosomes. I originally discovered TWiP via TWiV (where my true interests are - but that is a long story; Matt Frieman came and gave a seminar and gave a small plug for TWiV).  I am really excited to have the opportunity to listen to highly informed people talk about parasitism.  I request more frequent episodes - I will start preparing for my qualification exams soon and I am sure that this podcast will be invaluable - especially if you get to Leishmania soon (hint,hint).

I would also like to say that listening to a podcast is like having a viral/parasitic infection - usually there are only a few people that show clinical symptoms (i.e. send an email or post a comment), but there are usually many more who have asymptomatic infections (i.e. just listen).  So in the end, there are many people who would like more episodes, but only a small percentage will actually contact you to request more.  I am very grateful for the time you both take to prepare and do this podcast - keep them coming!

Bernhard writes:
Dear TWiVers and TWiPers, Last time I just suggested a Pick of the Week, but now I'm ready to pose a question: In a science news compilation, I recently learned about the work by Shigeto Yoshida et al. of Jichi Medical University (supposedly reported recently in 'Insect Mulecular Biology') on genetically engineering mosquitos to secrete an antigen from Leishmaniosis in their saliva. The idea being that being bitten by such a mosquito would trigger antibodies against the protozoans. The regulatory issues with such an approach are, however, quite severe since you cannot control who 'gets the shot'. However, I've since heard a podcast on Australian wildlife being threatened by picking up diseases from farm animals and species introduced by the Europeans like rabies. Would it be possible to use the above approach to immunize wildlife, say, using a mosquito that's specific to the wild animal and doesn't bite humans? Would the supposed specificity help with the regulatory issues and provide a 'proof-of-concept' for the approach?

Just an idea.

Hope you can keep TWiV and TWiP going for a long time!

Bernd

Ryan writes:
I love the podcast!  I am a grad student in microbiology and this podcast along with TWiV is a great part of my week.  I study bacteria so we need a TWiB too! Thanks again

Ashlee writes:
Dear Dr. Despommier, My name is Ashlee and I am a graduate student at CUMC and an enthusiastic fan of both TWIP and TWIV. Recently, I was listening to the podcast "This Amercan Life" episode 404 entitled "Enemy Camp" which features a segment called "As the Worm Turns". This brief story was about a man who believes that hook-worms have cured him of his allergies and asthma by acting as immune system modulators in an example of what  has been coined the 'hygiene hypothesis' for immune system dysfunction. The man  subsequently went on to sell his hookworms to other individuals  under the guise that they are a 'cure-all' for autoimmune disorders until he was threatened with arrest and fled the country.

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/404/enemy-camp-2010

Considering that 'This Amercian Life' has such a large audience, I'd imagine that this story has generated a lot of interest in the 'hygiene hypothesis' among the general public and would make a great topic for an upcoming TWIP episode.  Having had an interest in autoimmune disorders and the hygiene hypothesis in particular for years, I think it would be great to hear your take on this as an expert in the field of parasitology.

Sincerely, Ashlee

TWiP 9 letters

James writes:

One of the other science based podcasts I love listening to is an actual radio show in NZ called Our Changing World. This week the final story was on Hookworms and some researchers studying it, looking for a vaccine, and seeing if they could take out the anti inflammatory ability of the Hookworm and turn it into a drug or treatment without the downside of having to be infected by the worm itself. I thought you guys and the listeners would enjoy it and its a short 22 minutes.

You can find a link to the segment here http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/ourchangingworld

Or if it has fallen off the front page here are links to the mp3 and ogg versions of it:
http://podcast.radionz.co.nz/ocw/ocw-20100401-2146-Hookworms-048.mp3
http://podcast.radionz.co.nz/ocw/ocw-20100401-2146-Hookworms.ogg

And before I forget, insert platitudes on how awesome TWiP is and how it needs to become a daily show here. ;)


Kind regards,
James
New Zealand

Peter writes:

One of your emails mentioned larval stage parasites. If you consider placental mammal gestation, I think the embryo and developing offspring in utero fulfils many of the criteria of a parasite. It basically 'plugs-in' and takes everything it needs from the host (mother) until it reaches the next stage.

An intelligent egglaying (oh, say martian...) species may well view this as a hideous form of parasitism.

Nick writes:

First off I when I hear your ending song and thought it sounded like Ronald jenkes and just saw it was, I like his stuff.

So I heard on this American life podcast last week a story about a guy who heard about hook worms having an effect on wether a person has asthma or alergies. So he went to Africa and walked around in the poop fields and got the hook worm. When he gets home his alergies are gone. What do you think about that? I have alergies to cats, should I go get some worms?  This was also first on a podcast of wnyc's radiolab which I highly recommend.

Jim writes:

Tapeworm brain infection 'serious health concern'

Tapeworm infections of the brain, which can cause epileptic seizures, appear to be increasing in Mexico and bordering southwestern states, Loyola University Health System researchers report.

Brian writes:

I heard that every vertebrate has it's own tapeworm, but what is the human tapeworm?  In other words, if a tiger eats a human, what tapeworm does the tiger get?

Thanks

P.S.  Now I want to find some fake gravid proglotids and leave them in my roommates bed.

Gopal writes:

Saw this piece in The New York Times and remembered Dick talking about the life cycle of the pig tapeworm. -- Gopal Raj, a science journalist in India and a regular listener of both TWiP and TWiV 

Global Update:  Kenya: Pig Farmers Are Focus of Effort to Stop Spread of Parasite That Causes Epilepsy
By DENISE GRADY
A new program teaches farmers to tether or confine their pigs to keep them away from human waste.

Arsen writes:

Hey. You talking about fish tapeworm reminded me of another interesting fish parasite: http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/09/tongue-eating-parasite-discovered.php

This fellow eats fish tongue and replaces it.

Keep up the good work

Arsen

Sky writes:

Just listened to the last episode "TWiP 7: Tapeworms are fantastic!", and you know what?

You both are fantastic almost like the Tapeworms!

thank you : )

Sky



Brent writes:

I love the podcast!!! You've been talking about tapeworms. Can you talk more about the treatment for tapeworms? How does the treatment work? Does it kill the tapeworm or just force it out of the body? Are there any issues or side effects with the treatment?

Thanks,
Brent

Michael writes:

Hey Guys
I'm a medieval history who became fascinated with parasites from dealing on the plague.   From there I developed a course on plagues and people through history, which covered both parasitic and viral plagues which have wiped out large portions of humanity throughout history and the effect.   I have felt in love with both TWIP and TWIV.   Thanks for taking the time to these school, and has had been, more episodes.     I have finally gotten a copy of Dick's most recent edition of the book and it is my bedtime reading.
Thanks again

Kaja writes:
Dear Twip,
I've been following you from twiv and although I'm more of a virologist I have to say twip really is amazing. I enjoy Dickson's way of narrating these amazing life cycles of parasites. It really is an exciting subject. I even looked up study programs of parasitology at our university, as you pointed out, it's quite similar to virology on big scale. My question for Dick is, how does the life cycle of a parasite even occur? Did the tapeworm exist in some form before it became a parasite or was it just a parasite in one organism before it evolved to transform and change hosts in different stages of life? Did the evolution somehow make an opportunity for it's life cycle in dog-sheep-dog? Surely dogs weren't always around sheep to catch the worm and thus giving it a chance to evolve in this sophisticated life cycle with so many different forms of the worm. I hope you understood the question and maybe in one show can explain the evolution of parasites. This podcast really is amazing to learn from and I wish you would make it more often. I really appreciate all you work with twiv and twip, it's a pleasure to be taught by you. Keep on the good work!
Greetings from Slovenia,
Kaja

TWiP 8 letters

Christina writes:

Dear Vincent and Dick Just a quick message to say thank you for this informative and fun podcast series, I have enjoyed all three episodes and hope to listen to many more. Jusy the right thing for a former leishmaniac, now teache

Shawn writes:

Hi I just found your podcast and am enjoying it immensely I just have one nagging question about the first episode where it was said there was no parasites more complex than insects. I wondering about lampray witch i find kind of horrifying and then I also was thinking of vampire bats.

Thank for the podcast and your time.

Michael writes:

Hey guys,

I love the show, but am disappointed that it is only once a month! Please do at least twice a month. (I'm sure we'll be begging for every week then)

I am a pre-med student and love to learn from TWiV and TWiP.

I would also love if you would talk some more about how the body will respond to some of these parasites, in regards with the various humoral responses. (How will the parasites you are talking about show up in the blood chemistry)

Thanks for your time.

Destanie writes:

Hi I recently started listing to twiv a few weeks ago, through which I found twip. I must say I didn't think that parasites could be so interesting! I love what you guys are doing and the only thing I would change is the frequency! I'd love to hear more.

Jessie writes:

Hi Dr. Racaniello and Dr. Despommier, I was wondering if you could go over information about tapeworms.  Could you also discuss the myths vs. facts of tapeworms.  For example, can tapeworms help you lose weight?

I enjoy listening to your show and hope it continues for a very long time.

Mike writes:

I’m a garbage truck mechanic who is hoping to teach High School biology upon retirement. I received a master’s degree in Chemical and Life Sciences from UOM College Park last year and wrote my thesis on the nitrogen cycle in wastewater treatment.

TWIV and TWIP are my favorite podcasts. Your knowledge, experience and Socratic teaching style make listening and learning a joy. I’m definitely in the camp that would like to hear a new episode twice per month. The world (borrowing a line from Dr. Mark Crislip) needs more TWIP. It would also be wonderful if you could entice a bacteriologist to join your crew and add TWIB to the line-up. I am cc’ing this email to my 18 year-old granddaughter who plans to study microbiology at UC Davis. She is interested in leprosy and thinks rifampicin can be an effective drug for treatment if modified to reduce its hepatotoxicity. I’ve told her that MRSA, AIDS or malaria research would be better bets for grant writing.

Before I get to my question, I’d like to mention the two most startling bits of information Dr. Despommier related in TWIP 5, paraphrasing: 1) Some scientists believe that human aging genes are an aberration. 2) Type 1 diabetes may be caused by an over zealous immune system response to a virus with an antigenic appearance similar to that of pancreatic islet cells. I know these were intended as tangential remarks, but they piqued my curiosity. Perhaps you can revisit the concepts in the future.

TWIP 5 question: In the Trichinella nurse cell illustration on your webpage (see below) should one of the venules have been identified as an arteriole?  The Wikipedia entry (apologies, I didn’t look for a primary source) for venule http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venule shows blood flow as artery to arteriole to capillaries to venule to vein. Wikipedia’s entry for sinusoid has no illustration, but equates capillaries with sinusoids, noting the latter’s discontinuous endothelial cells to allow protein entry and exit from the bloodstream. If your illustration is correct, does it mean that larvae prefer venous blood exclusively because Trichinella is an obligate anerobe? And, if that is the case, how is a pressure differential maintained to move blood through the sinusoids?

Thank you and more power to TWIP!

Jeff writes:

You have a great set of shows going. I’ve been listening to both TwiV and TWiPa (I think TWiP is reserved for This Week in Photography, isn’t it?) I’m a lab tech at the CDC working on anaerobic bacteria (specifically C. difficile) and while I’m somewhat familiar with the workings of viruses (Cell Bio degree) I think the workings of parasites are fascinating.  I’m only a bit familiar with them and their lifecycles are amazingly complicated.  Also, I enjoy the random tangents with interesting anecdotes from science history. Keep ‘em coming.  And I’d love to hear more TWiPa  The current schedule is not enough.

You’ll have to find somebody who specializes in bacteria so you can cover the three major sources on infection.  There’s lot’s to talk about in the bacterial world.

Last: I think you said the Jungle was written by Sinclair Lewis in one episode?  It was Upton Sinclair.

Jim writes:

Thanks again, gentlemen, for an excellent podcast.

You know I can't keep up with all this. You keep adding links to other podcasts and books and topics that need to be studied and my garden is starting to grow, and I now have a used text on biochemistry, one on microbiology and the 2-vol virology set you so kindly sent, Vince.

I finally just gave up on your Virology Lecture 10 (transference or translation); watched it, but just too many new terms, like elongation, that represent a myriad of microcosms of knowledge. Still it's fascinating to hear and watch, and some of it does soak in.

Your asides, like the venules and sinusoids in this TWIP, oftentimes have more meaning and value to me than the more technical information. It's like little bits of critical information that click into place, the Ah-hah wow! type moments.

Dick, the details of your career is so much more enlightening as representing what the majority of science is about than the rare example of a Nobel Prize winner's work. You provide that huge base of knowledge built one jigsaw piece at a time that's needed that leads to breakthroughs. God bless you for your patience and perseverance.

Thanks, too, for the rundown concerning sushi. I've seen many mentions of flash-freezing fish for sushi to insure product quality, but no one wants to point out freezing kills parasites, too. I'm also pleased to hear that marine parasites are not zoonotic -- is this correct or an over simplifciation?  It would explain why we don't drop dead after falling in the ocean, considering the quantity of microorganisms there.

I need to ask, now, if there isn't a growing need to make a list of all the research projects and topics in need of further discussion that you two, and your guests, have noted in TWIP and TWIV. Do you have notes about each one of these? I'm still working on transcriptions and eventually one should be able to consolidate all of those, so searches can be made, but that may not help much.

I listened twice to this TWIP and TWIV 72 (lagging behind on those, it seems).  What a powerhouse, you guys.

Thanks, again.

Jesse writes:

Hello Drs. Vincent and Dickson!

I am still enjoying this podcast ("so far"), and discovering that multicellular parasites are even more fascinating than I had thought! I had a comment about something that was mentioned in episode 6 though:

When I took a medical parasitology class in college, the professor said that when the pork tapeworm is living in a person, it can sometimes get so long that it loops around up into the stomach, where it releases eggs which then hatch and reinfect that person as juveniles, causing cysticercosis and such serious problems. Is this incorrect? I know Dr. Despommier mentioned that it might not happen because the immune system would prevent reinfection. If it IS correct though, then maybe on that House episode you mentioned, the woman had an adult Taenia solium growing in her gut from the ham, which laid eggs in her stomach, resulting in the neurocysticercosis. Is it possible?

Thanks for the podcast!

Jesse writes:

I know this has nothing to do with viruses or parasites. I thought it was interesting to hear Dr. Despommier explain what vertical farming is along with the benefits.

CNN : Eco Solutions : Vertical farming

Paul writes:

Dear Drs

I am a retired chemist who is not that excited about chemistry any more but am fascinated by virus and other human diseases. I am a devoted listener and would like more TWIP, I find audio learning much more effective than reading, keep up the good work. My daughter works in biotech and also listens to your podcasts so we have interesting things to talk about besides grand children. We feel that diseases will play an increasingly important role in the future of mankind as the planet becomes more crowded and climate change puts more stress on human populations, understanding these things will help us prepare our progeny for an uncertain future. Thanks for helping with my education.

Questions:

Could the pork tape worm be a potential for bioterrorists?

Potential scenario :  Set up a pig farm in Mexico, infect pigs with tape worm, harvest the eggs from the pig manure, contaminate fresh produce ( such as lettuce) grown in Mexico bound for the US with the eggs and let nature take its course. It seems to me that this would be hard to detect because there would be no acute infectious out break and could go on for months with lettuce being shipped all over the US. Would this be a significant public health problem?

I often travel to Mexico and would like to be able to protect myself from tape worm infections, I got the idea from this podcast there is no defense if food gets contaminated after cooking. Did I get this right? Is there any spice, like chile peppers, that might prevent the eggs from hatching?

Anxiously awaiting your reply.

Lindsay writes:

Hey guys!

I am currently a graduate student at the University of Michigan, where I study infectious disease epidemiology and disease ecology. My primary interests lie in the ecological factors that give rise to certain parasitic and environmental infections, and also the evolutionary ecology of pathogen systems. I have been learning a bit about the evolutionary ecology of parasites and think that that topic would make for a really interesting conversation.

This coming summer, I will be working on a project involving malaria transmission in a sub-Saharan Africa urban center. Because malaria and other invertebrate-borne parasitic infections are such big deals in the developing world, I hereby request some casually educational back and forth rapport on those topics.

I was sure glad to hear a new episode - I was worried that the project had been given up.

Keep up the good work.

Michael writes:

Hi Vincent and Dickson,

Thought you might want to share a link to the CDC concerning the basics of common parasitic invaders if you haven't already done so.

http://www.dpd.cdc.gov/dpdx/Default.htm

Keep up the great work with TWIP.

 

Gary writes:

First, I just want to thank you for a great podcast. I find it both educational and entertaining.

I was wondering if either of you have read about a treatment, developed at the University of Technology Sydney, Australia, that uses gold nanoparticles that attach to toxoplasmid-hunting antibodies. The gold carrying-antibodies then spread through the circulatory system, affixing themselves to parasites in the blood. Once the gold particles are well distributed and widely attached to the parasite, a laser heats up the gold, incinerating the parasites. According to the researchers, the laser could be tuned to the so-called "tissue window", a wavelength of light to which the human body appears transparent. That way, the laser can pass harmlessly through the skin, burning up the parasites along the way.

I came upon the article "Gold nanoparticles take out brain parasite" in Cosmos Magazine and found it very interesting and I would like to hear both of yours comments on the technic in a future eposode of TWIP.

Here is the link to the article: http://www.cosmosmagazine.com/news/3345/gold-nanoparticles-take-out-brain-parasite?page=0%2C1

Thanks again, I look forward to your next podcast.

TWiP 4 letters

Rich writes:

Here is a composite of 384 electron microscope photographs, combined into one image so that you can zoom and pan:

http://gigapan.org/gigapans/27625/

I think I can see several species of parasites on the barnacle, and perhaps parasites upon them. I have heard you recommend Powers of 10 in the past, and I think this is a good extension of this type of work. The photo reminds me of this poem, which I first saw in a computer science book, but googling suggests this is the original:

The Vermin only teaze and pinch Their Foes superior by an Inch. So
Nat'ralists observe, a Flea Hath smaller Fleas that on him prey, And
these have smaller Fleas to bite 'em, And so proceed ad infinitum.
[1733 Swift Poems II. 651]

Anyway, I know Rich and Molly, who made the picture. If you have any ideas for this sort of thing, Rich might take requests!

 

Tom writes:

Some parasitism jokes from science comedian Brian Malow who jokes among other things that a virus is "the ultimate David and Goliath" when compared with humans.

'A Virus Walks Into a Bar...' and Other Science Jokes - Brian Malow

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7DkeQ0roAM

 

Felix writes:

Vincent, Dick,

you guys are fantastic!

THANK YOU

I am loving TWIP and the way you guys work together makes it really fun to listen to.

So far it is easier to follow than TWIV, presumably because (a) it is the start of the series and (b) parasites being larger than vaccines we don't have to know all about dna replication and intra-cellular machinery.

I have _watched_ the beginning of TWIV60 and I think it looks great to be able to show us the occasional picture or diagram. I hope that it doesn't add to the required effort to much so that you can use it often. Obviously too much use of it would break the podicast-iness of the shows which I expect you would be reluctant to do.

My only concern is that I have to wait 1 month for the next episode of TWIP!

Best wishes

Felix

 

Jesse writes:

Wow, I've never been around for the birth of a podcast before. This one was quite informative and entertaining; perhaps Dick should write an autobiography!

I think you missed something in your scale of parasites though: parasitic plants. Here's an example

(http://www.fcps.edu/islandcreekes/ecology/indian_pipe.htm): Indian pipes are plants that do not produce chlorophyll, so they form a relationship with fungi similar to mycorrhizal symbioses (in which plants give carbon to a fungus and the fungus gives something, such as phosphate, in return), except in this case the parasite takes nutrients from the fungus without giving anything back. I was quite fascinated when I discovered this.

Anyway, thanks for TWiP. Eukaryotic parasites are pretty interesting to me, and I wish this podcast were more frequent, but I'll take what I can get.

Thanks,

Jesse

 

Etienne wrote:

Great first episode, but once a month doesn't seem enough. Maybe every 2 weeks?

 

Mike8 wrote:

Hi Professor, Great first podcast. I'm glad you began with the basics. You answered many questions I've been wondering about, such as: Are archaea infectious? What range of parasites exist and why are they here? What IS a parasite? ...I also enjoyed the brief recounting of your professional career, especially during the early years. I look forward to future episodes and would like to hear more about mycoplasma and rickettsia. And, if you feel so inclined, it would be interesting to hear a further discussion of the limitations on host populations caused by parasites, vs. the limitations caused by predators, habitat and availablity of food.

 

William wrote:

Dear Vincent Racaniello and Dick Despommier,

The long awaited TWIP inaugural episode fully met my TWIV set expectations. Though I might be delusional due to some pathology, I this shows appeal to match or even exceed TWIV’s. So allow me to start the clamoring early for increased episode frequency, assuming you have the time to produce them.

I find parasitism fascinating and profound. On TWIV we've been compared to mobile microbial habitats. Isn't our very existence still thought due to structures that originated as a type of parasitism such as mitochondria?

And lest you have any doubt regarding the widespread public appeal, note the popularity of parasitic monsters that haunt the public imagination such as Alien, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (doesn't this count), zombies, and even vampires (aren't vampire bats parasites?).

I sincerely appreciate your wonderful creative efforts that succeed in bringing the wonder of science to both the public at large and subject area experts alike.

Respectfully yours,

William

 

Oxandbull writes:

Guys, please make it every 2 weeks! I think listeners of TWIV won't mind at all if 1 episode is sacrificed in the name of TWIP. Hope to hear more from TWIP soon. John writes: Is there an evolutionary advantage for long-lived parasites to be more benign to their hosts?  My intuition is that a parasite that makes a long-term home in a host has part of its fitness determined by the continued well-being (or at least survival) of the host, while aparasite that only sticks around for a few weeks has much less of its fitness determined in that way.

 

Lisa Ann writes:

Dear Drs, Dick "Emeritus"  Despommier and  Vincent Racaniello,

(I know that you are backed up with emails so I do not expect for this to be read on air)

Again, another super subject and podcast!  This Thanksgiving, I have you both, Dr. Dove, and all of your guests from TWIV  and now this new podcast, to be grateful to for a fascinating  year of listening and learning.

In the discussion of "what is a parasite" and archaea; you touched upon a subject that I hadn't fully considered before. How the ecology of all life on earth is an historic,shifting , complex , interactive landscape and that human beings are not the center of and certainly not the dominant species.  Contrary to my previous and embarrassingly unexamined beliefs, I have come to the awakening  that we are not " the most special of all ".   As a Nurse, all roads in my discipline are human- health -focused and all other life forms seem to be generally regarded as  the aberration and therefore ,the threat.  I had not thought much about our part in a whole medical ecology and framework until I listened to your first TWIP show. Since then, in my digging around in open access research articles, I found a paper that I believe rings with the message that Dick was conveying.  If not, or you have read this particular paper, forgive me. I found it very interesting and it has further opened my mind to a  new perspective on how to view human health. That is that human health  actually relies upon the condition ,resources, energy demands, and "determination" of innumerable organisms surrounding us. If we can see ourselves in a more humble light, perhaps some new medical advances can be made that as of yet,have been out of our reach due to our simple arrogance. Here is a link to  the paper from" Gut Pathogens", titled "The case for biocentric microbiology".

http://www.gutpathogens.com/content/1/1/16

Cheers,

Lisa Ann

TWiP 3 letters

Björn writes: (first letter to TWiP)

Hi Dick and Vincent,

My name is Björn. I am a biochemist and PhD student working on trypanosomes here in Germany. I am a long time listener of your twiv podcast and just listened to the first twip show. What a great podcast!

I email you to express my gratitude for your weekly commitments and especially I wanted to praise twip - I think the constant stream of questions from Vincent enabled Dick to focus and bring your intended messages home.

Thanks for all your efforts,

Björn

 

Etienne wrote:

Great first episode, but once a month doesn't seem enough. Maybe every 2 weeks?

 

Hussein wrote:

A very promising 1st episode. Thanks very much. Looking forward for more episodes and hope it becomes more frequent.

 

Marc wrote: (Pelletier of Futures in Biotech, twit.tv/fib):

Great job on TWIP. Despommier's story was great. Your audio was excellent too.

There should be a history of science podcast out there. Would  be a lot of fun.

 

Sophie writes:

Hey Dick and Vincent

First of all I want to say that you guys do a great job and I got very excited when I heard you also wanted to make a podcast about parasites. You guys are great and I learn so much from both podcasts.

I'm studying biotechnology 3-semester at the Technical University of Denmark, but I'm planning to go into immunological bioinformatics, so I can also use it for my studies:)

I have a question about the size of parasite genomes, I am reading the newest edition of the "Brock Molecular Biology of Microorganisms" you guys mentioned in the last TWIP, and I'm afraid I got a bit confused (at page 354, chapter 13) it states that "Apart from the strange case of Trichomonas, parasitic eukaryotic microorganisms have genomes containing 10-30 Mbp...". So when you say that they have larger genomes is it only compared to related organisms or do they have bigger genomes than expected for their complexity? Maybe it is just Trichomonas that has a very big genome, but I would really like you to talk a bit more about it.

Thank you so much

Sophie

P.S. Sorry about the english, it's my second language.

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