Carolyn writes:

Thank you so much for discussing our placental miRNA paper on TWiV. I am a bit delayed in listening (it is my listening material for my ‘long runs’ each week), but I thought I would follow up on a few things in case you are interested:

You were correct in that we did have some reasons for looking into the possible role of exosomes in the antiviral effect. This was very much due to the interests of my collaborator Yoel Sadovsky who had been looking into the role of exosomes (and the C19MC-associated miRNAs) in general placental development and during various pregnancy complications (such as hypoxia). After we had excluded the obvious factors (which I initially was holding out hope for) such as type I IFNs, we were scratching our heads a bit. Yoel was the first to suggest exosomes and miRNAs and I distinctly remember that I was hesitant to think they were involved. Turns out he was right!

A similar hunch led us to autophagy. Again after we had excluded IFNs and some other pathways, we began looking at others. The student working on the project, Elizabeth Delorme-Axford, was in the process of written her doctoral comprehensive exam (which in her program is strictly ‘off dissertation topic’) and she was specifically focusing on autophagy and viruses. She suggested we add autophagy it to our panel of possible pathways and it was clear from the beginning that it was in fact playing a very prominent role.

We are following up on the targets of the miRNAs and have recently started collaborating on work with CMV. So far, we don’t have many answers, but it is still early days.

I absolutely agree re: the figures. It is tough packing so much into the strict page limits. I felt the overall paper suffered from it.

Thank you again for your interest and support and I look forward to seeing you at ASV. A student now working on the project is presenting some of the follow up work (screening some additional viruses as well as Toxoplasma gondii) in a talk in one of the first sessions (workshop 3), if you are interested.



Carolyn Coyne, PhD

Associate Professor

Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics

University of Pittsburgh

Robin writes:

Placental exosomes

Are exosomes sufficiently antigenic to be promptly cleared from the maternal circulation? Would they confer viral resistance to the mother? Would they be involved in maternal immune tolerance to the foetus?

MHC & devils

If absence of the MHC confers immunotolerance in the Tasmanian devil cancer, can this be useful in organ transplants?

Aaron writes:

Hi all,

Just finished listening to episode 227, where several vaccine disinformation topics were discussed jn the emails. Sincere thanks for your great show and for all of your great work. Here’s my question: The tobacco/cancer disinformation campaign was covertly funded by the tobacco industry. The global warming disinformation campaign is “covertly” funded by the fossil fuel industry. However, when you look at the anti-evolution disinformation campaign, is seems to just be driven by a bunch of zealots.

Regarding the anti-vaccination campaign, is there some fraudulent/holistic healthcare industry money behind it, or are we simply dealing with zealots? I feel like it would help to have this information because pointing out the behind-the-scenes profit motive can be a powerful resource when dealing with disinformation. If we’re just dealing with earnest but misinformed people, that is a more daunting challenge since it means there is a fundamental distrust of the medical community. Sorry for the downer of a question, but I really don’t know the answer on this one.


Aaron in Maryland

James writes:

Kia ora et al.,

In a recent TWiV Vincent mentioned how he’d like to save up some more funds for new equipment. As these tend to be one off capital expenditures perhaps Vincent would like to try some crowdfunding for specific items. There are a bunch of sites out there now to do this sort of thing. Indiegogo seems to have become one of the big ones and seems like it would suit Vincent’s needs nicely.

Disclosure: I do not work for IndieGoGo and have not donated anything to something using it. Though for TWiV I’d be more than happy to throw a bit of cash in the pot.

Kind regards,


PS. I would say no need to read this on the show but I know you will anyways.



Software Developer

Wellington, NZ


Michael writes:

To Vince, Kathy, Rich, Alan et al:

I just realized that my last email (“Great paper: Stem cells used to identify CNS cell types susceptible to HSV”) was addressed to “Great men of TWIV”. This was the salutation I used last time I wrote to the show, a year earlier. However, it’s no longer appropriate! If you read it on the show please amend it to “Great humans of TWIV” or the like.

I also want to draw your attention to the latest editorial on the oversupply of trainees in the biomedical sciences, “The writing on the wall” by Henry Bourne of UCSF in eLife.

In one of your recent interviews, I believe it was with Ian Lipkin, the interviewee said that he got his first postdoc job by writing letters to a bunch of people he admired, all over the world, and asking if he could join the lab. Something like 24 out of 28 responded by saying sure, come and work here, and he had to be careful in choosing the right one. Nowadays it would more likely be 1 out of 28.

Best wishes,

Michael L. Davies

Postdoctoral researcher

Penn State M.S. Hershey College of Medicine

Stephen writes:

I just listened to part of TWiV 21, to get a little more on polydnaviruses. I know you mentioned polydnaviruses on at least one later episode, but it’d be great to do a whole episode on them, with an expert guest.

By the way, most illustrations show braconid wasps laying eggs on large caterpillars. But the story is a little stranger. Some braconids lay on first-instar larvae hidden in flowers.

Here’s an image I submitted to

Bob Carlson comments: “According to Sharkey (2006), most Agathidinae ‘…are solitary, attack first instar Lepidoptera larvae in concealed microhabitats such as leaf-rolls or stems, and emerge from the last larval instar after it has spun its cocoon.’ ”

He cites

You have to wonder how widespread polydnaviruses are.

Chris writes:

I was excited to hear on TWIV 227 that you and Rich will be in Seattle in June and about the potential for a Seattle TWIV episode. Any chance the Seattle episode might be in front of audience? I have been an avid listener since TWIV 145 and would love an opportunity to watch one live. The current weather in Seattle is abnormally sunny with a high of 20°C, but don’t worry, by the time you get here it will be cloudy again with a significant chance of rain.

I am a Medical Service Corps Officer in the Navy stationed across the Puget Sound from Seattle in Bremerton WA. My research interests lie at the convergence zone of virology and immunology. I am particularly interested in exploiting aspects of viral-host interaction to develop new vaccines. I will be applying to graduate school this fall and have spent the last eight months investigating the virology/immunology research being done in the Seattle area. With that in mind, let me humbly suggest a few potential guests.

Dr. Leonidas Stamatatos is the Program Director of Seattle Biomedical Research Institute. His work focuses on developing HIV vaccine candidates capable of eliciting broadly neutralizing antibodies similar to the one used in the vectored immunoprophylaxis study discussed on TWIV 168. His group recently published a study in the Journal of Experimental Medicine in which they demonstrated the removal of specific N-linked glycosylation sites on HIV-1 gp120 allowed the protein to bind to the germline B-cell receptors responsible for the development of broadly neutralizing HIV antibodies.

Dr. Julie Overbaugh is a member of the Human Biology Division at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Her lab focuses on the mechanisms of HIV transmission and recently published a study in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes suggesting the plasma level of anti-HIV antibody-dependent cell-mediated virus inhibition in HIV+ women does not correlate to protection from HIV-1 superinfection.

Dr. Daniel Stetson is an Assistant Professor in the Immunology Department at the University of Washington where he focuses on innate immune recognition of viral infection. His lab, in collaboration with Harmit Malik, recently published a study in the Journal of Experimental Medicine in which they identified and characterized five novel AIM2-like receptors.

Thank you for your outstandingly informative podcast. It makes the many mile of marathon training all the more bearable. Keep up the good work.


LT Christopher

Ken Stedman writes:

Not sure if it was a “bump” but Geoff Diemer and I’s paper that we discussed on TWiV 195 was just awarded the BMC Research Award for best paper in BMC journals in 2012. I’d like to think that TWiV had something to do with it. A clear “bump” was a very strong potential Ph.D. student who applied to my lab based on TWiV, but he unfortunately ended up going elsewhere :-(.

I’ll try to say “hello” in person at TWiV live in Denver.

I am also using Course Capture and putting my Virology lectures online, inspired by your example.



PS. Please tell Dick that we were not kicked out of Andina the last time that we were there. . . .

Manoj writes:

Dear Vincent, Alan, Rich, Dickson and occasional other twiv-sters,

Thanks so much for your wonderfully lively and entertaining podcast, which I enjoy enormously. I work at CDC and Imperial College London, largely doing epidemiology and not lab work and I find the microbiological aspects of infectious diseases very interesting though tough to get my head around (epi is hard enough!). I was wondering whether it would be possible to bring on an epidemiologist full time onto TWIV because that would open up a wide audience of people who are in to virology but find laboratory aspects difficult. With an epi person present, he/she would ask the questions we would like to ask, and you would ask them epi questions.

Your recent conversations on H7N9, novel coronavirus, and pertussis (on TWIM) were cases in point: they were good, but definitely missed a very important dimension, namely population effects like prior immunity over age, reproduction number etc. Michael Walsh was great when he was on, by the way, and someone like him would be ideal. I realize you’re a virology podcast, but I honestly think you’re also filling a vacuum and need for public health broadcasts at the moment.

Keep up the great work. Love it when you needle Dickson, Vincent, and when Dickson and Alan debate things like public perception of science. Rich’s observations are always sobering too…


Manoj Gambhir PhD

National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, CDC, Atlanta, GA, USA

MRC Centre for Outbreak Analysis and Modelling, Imperial College London, UK

Adam writes:

In TWiV 229, you discussed the development of aerosol transmission in emerging viruses, and specifically the lack of information on how a virus might develop this trait. We’ve been watching Ebola for the past 37 years, and aside from some rather weak (and to my knowledge poorly reproduced or not reproduced at all) evidence of aerosol transmission in RESTV, and absolutely nothing to my knowledge in EBOV, SUDV, BDBV (Bundibugyo), or TAFV (Tai forest virus). Of course, we see the same pattern in H5N1 outbreaks. Do you think that the relatively low number of passages is preventing the required mutation(s) from appearing in the same virion at the same time, or is this a fundamental biochemical issue? Furthermore, if low passage numbers is the issue, and H5N1 (which has a genome in the neighborhood of100 times less stable than that of any ebolavirus) has not been able to achieve the magical combination of mutations required for aerosol transmission, what chance does an ebola virus have? (Of course, one would assume that the mutation(s) required would be different.)

Stephen writes:

While not virology-related, this item may be of interest to the twiv crew. Kathy picked the Finkbeiner test in TWiV 223, and, of course, science writing as an alternative career for scientists and as part of public education in science comes up sometimes.


Luis writes:

Dear Twivers,

Thank you very much again for your wonderful podcast. I haven’t missed a single episode since December 2010 when I was introduced to TWiV. In TWiV 230 I was happy to hear that Vincent had chosen “The origin of AIDS” as pick of the week, since this was my pick back in TWiV 191. Certainly, itis well-written and entertaining book, and very interesting from a scientific point of view. Vince’s choice was a relief for me, since after my recommendation, I read some critique which was not as positive as mine:

Today, I have just read a short commentary about additional experiments following the high-risk flu saga (single gene swap helps bird flu virus switch hosts):

I haven’t got access to the paper yet (probably due to embargo), but I am sure it will provide an interesting discussion for a coming episode. If I understood correctly, one of the issues not fully understood refer to the relevance of the animal model, since in this paper guinea pigs are used instead of ferrets.

Finally, I want to suggest another pick of the week. This time is the Public Health Image Library (PHIL) of the CDC. It has a nice collection of illustrations and videos, and can be an interesting source for educational purposes:

I am sorry if it has been already chosen, but in any case, quoting André Gide: “Everything has been said before but since nobody listens we have to keep going back and beginning all over again”.

Again, thank you very much to all of you (Kathy, Rich, Alan, and Vince) for your great contribution to knowledge dissemination and for stimulating the young generations of future virologists.



P.S.: Today, we have a partly cloudy, but sunny day in Madrid, with an

actual temperature of 18ºC (64ºF), at 5 p.m. (local time)


Luis Menéndez-Arias

Centro de Biología Molecular Severo Ochoa (CSIC-UAM)



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *