Unknown writes:

Fascinating feature article focuses on immunology …

From The New York Times:

What the Mystery of the Tick-Borne Meat Allergy Could Reveal

Unraveling why tick bites are suddenly causing a strange reaction in some people who eat meat could help scientists better understand how all allergies work.


Kevin writes:


for a future podcast, it would be great to hear a brief explanation of the Velocimmune (not happy to use a proprietary term for basic scientific discoveries) mouse system. The 2013 PNAS paper by Lynn Macdonald et al quickly gets too technical. thanks

Kevin Carney

Chicago IL

Roman writes:

Dear Cynthia,

In Immune 11, you say that it is important complete the full course of antibiotics to prevent resistance. Could you elaborate on that?

The way I understand it, by stopping taking antibiotics you remove the selective pressure to develop resistance, and so you lower its chances. And if the resistance has already developed, by continuing taking antibiotics you actually help it to persist by removing the non-resistant competitors.

For what it’s worth, British immunologists seem to agree with me.

“I have always thought it to be illogical to say that stopping antibiotic treatment early promotes the emergence of drug-resistant organisms,” said Peter Openshaw, president of the British Society for Immunology. — https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/jul/26/rule-patients-must-finish-antibiotics-course-wrong-study-says

Michael Schmidt answers:

Two words – Persister cells. Recall that there is always a fraction of the population responsible for  an infection that are dormant and highly refractory to antibiotic exposure. As the antibiotic trough falls in the patient  the persisters awaken and are then killed by the next dose. The whole course of antibiotic drops the concentration /population of the infecting microbe to a sufficiently low level to enable the immune system to clear the infection.  Absent the whole course of antibiotics the persisters may or may not win out. Second, a sub-clinical course of abx can select out a resistant population. The sub clinical course results from not taking the meds on time or a physiological condition, eg drinking beer or coffee when taking penicillin for gonnorhea  will cause you to urinate with greater frequency diluting the drug from bladder too quickly. Thus, resistant population can expand and then escape the patient. Dosing was based initially on a crude understanding of the how the innate and adaptive arms of the immune system clear an infection. Same principle applies for anti-fungals and antivirals.


Neeraj writes:

Hi ImmuNerds,

               It was great listening to the latest episode on the differences between the cord / peripheral blood profiling of the pre-term and at-term babies. Of particular interest, was the convergence of developmental profiles for DC, NK etc cells but the marked differences within the T cell population. And in light of this, I was very much intrigued by Steph’s idea of investigating differences post vaccination with known antigens and monitor the elicited responses. Furthermore, given the convergence, I was wondering if we would observe differences if the babies were partitioned based on ethnicity and cultural background? Maybe there are meaningful differences in those sub-populations? But nonetheless, I always find systems biology approaches a bit too dense at times, just due to the sheer amount of data they encompass. I think biologists are a little hard wired (due to technical and cognitive limitations at times), to dumb down things from a reductionist point of view. Personally, I believe it certainly helps understand things in finer detail. But overall, I think the Immune team does a terrific job of analyzing, interpreting and informing the broader non-immunology community about the latest and the most exciting developments. It’s always refreshing to listen to your podcast as it always yields new information from which I certainly learn a lot. So thank you for your efforts and I wish you the very best and I hope to be benefitted from this for a very long time.



P.S: Steph, I totally agree with your take on how long it takes to start feeling “jaded” as a graduate student. I think any length of time beyond 4 years is just adding to the misery (unless you are fortunate enough to be working on something you absolutely love and your PI is an amazing mentor). In any case, wish you the very best with your thesis defense and as was rightly pointed out, I am sure your time spent at podcasting will hold you in good stead when you face the committee, ONE LAST TIME !


Neeraj Kapoor, Ph.D.

Scientist II at SutroVax, Inc.

Adam writes:


I’m a medical intern from Sweden with an interest in infectious diseases. Within that sphere I find sepsis particularly fascinating. I have mostly read about the clinical (and to a lesser degree the microbiological) aspects of it, so therefore I would find it really interesting to hear you talk about the immunological aspects of it. The immunological response is in a way what makes the difference between sepsis an “ordinary” infection.

Best regards,

Adam, Halmstad, Sweden

Rachel writes:

Hello Immune friends from Calgary, Canada,

First of all, I absolutely LOVE the Immune podcast. I started listening this summer and now I am finally caught up and cannot wait for your next episode. I am also cheering on Stephanie as she approaches her defense, best of luck in the final stretch.

I am an immunology PhD student at the University of Calgary studying the innate immune response to Staphylococcus aureus, so of course I loved the episode on Immunomimetic designer cells. I’m wondering if you could spend an episode or at least comment in your podcast about neutrophils? I was a bit surprised that neutrophils weren’t brought up when talking about the innate response to S. aureus, since those cells are one of the first cells to be recruited and they’re so important to kill bacteria. But what I think is more interesting and somewhat unexpected is the emerging areas of neutrophil biology in angiogenesis, wound repair, chronic infections, and cancer (a new Science paper just came out on neutrophil NETs in tumor awakening in the lung).

Neutrophils, as my supervisor likes to say, are an “enigmatic” immune cell. In a recent perspective article (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29404726), he comments about although there are 100,000 papers about neutrophils, we still don’t quite understand what they do and there are so many questions about their roles in different diseases that need to be answered. Part of my research is to figure out what these neutrophils are doing during a S. aureus biofilm infection in skin, and I use intravital microscopy to help me answer these questions. It would be great for us to hear your thoughts about neutrophils and in particular what we don’t know.

All the best,

Rachel Kratofil

(twitter: @rachelkratofil, blog: www.immunews.com)