Steve writes:

1) As Kathy suggested, moving forward I will listen for and compile a list of we should do a podcast on that and we should have that person on TWIV references. I’ll send that list for every 50 or so episodes reviewed. I’ll include episode, time code, speaker, and phrase. Let me know if you’d like different information.

2) The kind of statements I collect are just general statements that interest me and could be generally applied. Below is a short list of a few pulled so far:

Successful systems attract parasites.

Do not over rely on rationalization. Work from the data and observations.

This shows you, you have to work on weird stuff.

The assumption we are all working on is that what you find in simple organisms is true for the most complicated.

It makes science go better when you collaborate. It makes it go a lot faster and a lot smoother.

3) Perhaps a good way to do a general TWIV and episode specific index would be to transcribe and time code the episodes and then index the transcripts. You could crowd source the transcription to the TWIV listener base via a wiki so that many could contribute. With such a wiki in place, I would guess (purely a guess) it may be rather easy to have transcription complete within a week of podcast release.

Going backward in the catalog may be another issue.

Marcia writes:

I’ve got a history question for you, of sorts. I’m trying to track down the history of Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) testing. When I do an internet search, however, most of the results are for *current* EBV testing methods, so I think I need some help from you guys (“guys” of course here including both sexes, no exclusion intended).

I’m trying to find evidence to support (or perhaps disprove?) a claim that a certain Dr Myron Wentz developed the first “commercially available” test for EBV, probably in the 1970’s. Most of the information I’m finding is from Dr Wentz’s various companies, which raises a red flag for me. But in the process of trying to research this, I became interested in the topic in a more general sense. In 1969, shortly after I went away to college for the first time, I came down with a severe case of “mono”. From what I can tell, it seems definitive testing may not have been around at that point? So my curiosity is connected to some personal past history.

I found TWIV during the XMRV “whoo-ha” a couple years ago, since I’ve had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for many years. I’ve been a regular TWIV listener ever since, and enjoy listening to your informal discussions about virology and science in general.

Anyway, I’d love to hear about the history of testing for Epstein-Barr Virus if you know anything about it, or if not maybe an expert on that would be an interesting future guest on your show.



in Salem, Massachusetts

P.S. I donated blood to one of the WPI studies, and tested positive for XMRV. In retrospect we now know that wasn’t particularly useful information, since it was probably contamination in the lab. Oh well. On to the next study.

John Booss writes:

Your questioner’s query about EBV and his personal timing are of interest. Until the end of the ’60s, when your questioner became sick, the diagnosis of mono was dependent on the clinical presentation, the blood smear and heterophile antibodies, including the monospot assay. The section on Infectious mononucleosus in the 4th edition of the APHA’s Diagnostic Procedures For Viral And Rickettsial Infections (1969) emphasizes the heterophile agglutination assay and its variants. The heterophile assay was not EBV specific. Antigen specific antibodies for EBV were defined by the Henles at CHOP, and others in the latter half of the ’60s. Jim Neiderman in New Haven, working with the Henles demonstrated the association of clinical mono with serological conversion for EBV in Yale College students in 1968. With apologies I can’t determine which companies, or persons, brought these assays into commercial production. Use of cloned DNA probes and PCR would soon follow.

Alex Tselis has a very nice history chapter in his book, Epstein-Barr Virus that he co-edited with Hal Jensen in 2006. Hence I will copy Alex on this note in the event that he has something to add.

Alex Tselis writes:

I don’t recognize the name Wentz. The EBV antigens (VCA, EA, EBNA) were being defined in the late 60s and early 70s, so the current EBV panel did not exist in 1969. VCA was discovered in the Henle lab in 1966, EA by the Henle lab in 1970 and EBNA by George Klein in 1973, so doubt that the EBV panel existed before 1973.

Eric writes:

Hello TWiV!,

My name is Eric, I’m a first-year in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology department at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Recently I was fortunate enough to learn about the new Public Health United podcast being produced by a friend (Nina Martin) in the Microbiology department here at the School of Public Health. I was delighted to learn that you will be participating in this podcast later this year! I am eagerly awaiting this episode and look forward to hearing your perspectives on communicating science to the general public, a critical and often overlooked aspect of academic research.

Also, I would like to comment on a textbook someone mentioned a few “TWiVs back: “Essential Cell Biology” by Bruce Alberts. This was the book used in my undergrad cell bio class at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, and I found it to be at the perfect introductory level. Now I am familiar with Alberts’ “Molecular Biology of the Cell” (or “Fat Alberts'”, as my professor used to call it in comparison with the smaller Essentials book) and it provides a nice graduate-level complement to the Essentials book.

Thanks from partly cloudy 15C Baltimore,


CN writes:

Greetings again,

Was listening to your TWiV 231. The discussion about GBV-C was interesting. This virus is also been studied by many group as its possibility of use against HIV since it is known to interfere with HIV. I had blogged a little about it in last year.

I wish to cite a review in Cell- Trends in Microbiology. This could be a possible TWiV topic.

Excellent podcasts. TWiX Fan

Prady writes:

Dear TWIV members,

I am a PhD student of molecular virology studying Respiratory Syncytial Virus with my mentor Dr. Tom Oomens at Oklahoma State University.

I am listening to your podcast since last couple of years. They helped me a lot during my qualifying exam for PhD candidacy.

Here, I am sending you one article about the role of virologists in real world. You might have read this or already discussed this issue previously. But I wanted to point out this again particularly in today’s world of confusion created by over-ambitious media and social network website.

I also believe that along with current virologists, current virology students also have responsibility to educate general public about science in general and viruses in particular.

I hope to hear about this issue in your discussion.

Thank you very much and appreciate all good work you all are doing.

Sincerly yours,


You don’t have to pronounce it correctly! Its tough SANSKRIT LANGUAGE name even in my country India. You can mention me as ‘PRADY’.

Also, I would appreciate if you can please let me know in which episode you will select my email.

Jim writes:

I’ve recently tumbled into a bunch of medical podcast sites where lots of talk is going on about FOAM and wanted to make sure it was on your radar screen.



Smithfield, VA

Rohan writes:

Hi there Twivologists, I’d like to introduce myself as Rohan, currently working as Research Assistant in University of Madras, Chennai, India. I first came across when I enrolled for my Masters degree in Virology in 2009 and have been in love with it ever since. I very much enjoy the weekly TWiV, TWiP and TWiM podcasts and Dr Vincent’s Virology lectures as well. I happened to listen to your TWiV 230 podcast and have few doubts regarding patenting, hence this mail.

As part of dissertation work during my Masters program in Virology, I happened to work on the development of a serological diagnostic method for Dengue. My aim was to devise a specific and cheap diagnostic technique for Dengue that can distinguish it from other Flavivirus caused diseases that are prevalent in India- JE, West Nile. That’s when I came across a paper where they showed that human IgM Abs against the NS5 protein of West Nile Virus could effectively distinguish it from other Flaviviruses. Apart from the fact that they used recombinant NS5 proteins in a microsphere based assay for their study, the basic principle appealed to me and I decided to apply a simplified version of their method for DENV. I separated DENV proteins using SDS-PAGE, blotted them onto a Nitrocellulose membrane and checked for the reactivity of NS5 protein band against known anti-Dengue IgM positive human sera using reagents which are used for a commercial Indirect ELISA kit for Dengue diagnosis- Primary Ab (Positive Control): Human sera containing Anti-Dengue IgM Abs; Secondary Ab: Biotinylated anti-human IgM MAbs; Avidin HRP and TMB Substrate. The idea was to use the DENV proteins bound NS strips to check for the presence of specific Abs in serum samples by an ImmunoBlot technique. However, I was not able to get any positive reaction even with the positive control sample used. After some searching, I came to know that I should have used a BCIP/NBT substrate instead of the reagents from the diagnostic kit.

I would like to get your opinion as to what might have gone wrong other than the substrate thing and whether there are any chances that I might be able to get conclusive results if suitable changes are done. This might sound stupid but do you people think there are any chances for me to patent this method that is of course if things turn out well eventually?

The reason why I am so interested in pursuing this is that, if a success, this has a potential to be a cheap and specific diagnostic method for Dengue in the rural sectors of India where the disease claims many lives every year. Currently used ELISA kits are based on detection of IgM Abs against the structural proteins of DENV and are sometimes, if not often, non specific and give false negatives. I have also attached the Abstract of my dissertation work here. Please note that I have not mentioned the work with the antibodies in the same as I couldn’t get conclusive results from it. Hope to hear from you TWiVologists soon.



Richard writes:

Dear TWIV Heroes,

I am writing concerning your comments about patents and the production of products in developing countries such as China and India. This is an area in which I have had a great deal of interest for a long time.

Patents are issued by national governments and apply only in the countries in which they are issued. Because of the large expense of filing for and maintaining patents, most inventors choose to file only in those countries where they think there might be a profitable market for the invention. Thus, most pharmaceutical companies file patents only in the United States, European countries, Japan, and Australia. This applies for both drugs and vaccines. Therefore, most drugs and vaccines are not patented in China and India, although this is slowly changing. Companies in China and India have complete freedom to copy products patented in other countries and are not breaking any laws or infringing any patents. They are not allowed to sell the products in the countries where the inventor has obtained a patent. The production of important drugs and vaccines in China and India and other developing countries such as Brazil has proven to be a wonderful mechanism to help ensure that the poor in developing countries have access to modern new health technologies. This is robustly seen with respect to vaccines. An old example is the development and marketing of hepatitis B vaccines by Korean manufacturers (although they did use unique technologies). Their efforts dramatically lowered the cost of hepatitis B vaccine and led the way for poor people in developing countries to have access to this wonderful vaccine. Coming to today, it seems that Indian manufacturers will play a similar role with respect to rotavirus vaccine and pneumococcal vaccine and a Brazil manufacturer with respect to dengue vaccine.

Patents are important mechanisms to spur innovation and need to be observed and supported where they are in force. If an inventor chooses not to file a patent application in certain countries, it is perfectly acceptable for companies in those countries to produce the product.

I have been a listener to TWIV since the first edition and can’t wait each week for the next. You are doing a fantastic job and your skills continue to grow and make the podcasts extremely valuable and enjoyable.

Thank you for your wonderful efforts,


Richard T. Mahoney, PhD

Dengue Vaccine Initiative

International Vaccine Institute

Kwanak-ku, Seoul, Korea

Ricardo writes:

VACC-STAMP by Han Dhojin, Han Chanhee, Kwon Yoonjoo & Yoon Sejin

Saira writes:

I trust all is well. This is Saira from Karachi, Pakistan. I have been listening to TWiV for quite a while now. Needless to say, it has helped me a great deal in developing an interest in virology in general. I never knew, one day I would be so fascinated with viruses and would be looking forward so much to listening a podcast all about viruses. My favourite part on TWiV is listener’s pick of the week. I have always enjoyed going through the picks and today I’m sending my pick for your and others interest. It’s called “Reproducibility Initiative”, taken up by a number of scientific organizations to “validate and publish reproduced results”. I’m sure you will take a look at this website. The link is below:

I thought it would be a good choice for listener’s pick of the week. I hope you will share it with other listeners in case it hasn’t been featured yet. It will be great to listen to your thoughts about it.

I want to congratulate the entire team of TWiV and thank each one of you Profs individually for your time, effort and dedication towards educating young and aspiring graduate students like me.

Best wishes,


PhD Student

Aga Khan University


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