Peter writes:

Dear Immune Hosts-

I’ve been a big fan of the TWI podcasts dating back to TWIV in when I was just starting my post doc in 2009. As a trained (but no longer “practicing”) immunologist I’m so glad to see a podcast dedicated to the ‘host’ side of host pathogens interactions.

I listened with great interest to episode 17 as my PhD involved dissecting the molecular mechanisms of immune suppression of tumor associated myeloid cells (e.g. myeloid derived suppressor cells- which many consider a “flavor” of tumor associated macrophages). I just wanted to add a post script to episode 17’s discussion of tumor associating macrophages and the “eat me”/’don’t eat me” signal. The potential to disrupt these pathways have not gone unnoticed to industry as a couple of companies are bringing anti-CD47 monoclonal antibodies into the clinic, including SurfaceOncology and Trillium Therapeutics, among others. Of note, SurfaceOncology’s lead asset recently “stumbled” in their Phase I study – the company scaled back the expected enrollment of their trial due to dose limiting side effects ( It leads one to wonder if it could be due to the broad CD47 distribution in the body that was noted during your discussion during the program. It will be interesting to see how others fare as they enter this space- of note, Trillium has engineered multiple versions of their CD47 mAbs to reduce the antibody dependent cellular cytotoxicity activity of the Fc portion of their antibody- potentially a way to reduce off target cytotoxicity.

On a more self serving note, since leaving the bench, I’ve gone on to consult for biotech and pharma companies- focusing on helping them think through the clinical, scientific, financial, and strategic issues that underpin their business model. Given the clinical and commercial success of checkpoint inhibitors, and the subsequent explosion of investment in immune-oncology approaches, this topic has been a large part of our practice over the past 3-4 years. As a result we often work with companies in the early stages of formation/capitalization and see a lot of the exciting emerging technologies and approaches at the interface of the immune system and cancer. To that end, my colleagues and I recently published two white papers on areas at this interface that I find quite interesting, namely, the concept of cancer associated “neoantigens” and the impact of the microbiome on immunotherapies. I think you would find both intriguing and I have include the links for your perusal below.

Look forward to many more episodes to come as it helps me keep up with the field on my daily commute.

All the best,


Weston writes:

Cindy, Steph, and Vincent,

I just want to say that I thoroughly enjoy listening to Immune. I began listening to TWiP recently as well since I enjoy parasites and I’m doing research on Naegleria fowleri, a brain eating amoebic parasite.

I’m also emailing you for something that I think is very important to the listeners like me that are not to grad school yet. I’m finishing my undergraduate at Weber State University and am beginning to look at PhD programs to apply to. Since this podcast has what I would say are the three stages of academic careers, with Steph being the beginning of the career, Cindy being the middle, and Vincent being the final steps of a career, I want to see what your advice would be for those of us who are just starting.

What is your advice for trying to find the right graduate (master’s or PhD) for people to apply for and to figure out what they want to study and research?

Best regards,

Weston Hutchison

Andrew writes:

Hello Immune team, the last two podcasts have increased my curiosity about how vaccines are made. I understand the basic premise of generating an immune response with attenuated viruses or others. What I don’t fully understand is large scale vaccines production and the function of additives such as aluminum. ‘Im specifically curious why aluminum is needed to enhance immune response and why an attenuated virus is or is not enough to generate a strong enough response. Thanks for the info and carry on.