Anthony writes:

How Dr. Arthur Conan Doyle cracked the case of the tuberculosis ‘remedy’

Dr. Howard Markel

May 20, 2016


Within a day after analyzing the clinical data, Doyle came to a startling conclusion: “The whole thing was experimental and premature,” he wrote first in a letter to the editor, published in the London Daily Telegraph on Nov. 20, 1890, and then, more definitively, in his long article for the Review of Reviews, which ran in December of that year. While the rest of the world rejoiced over the reported conquest of tuberculosis, Doyle argued that “Koch’s lymph” might remove traces of the diseased tissue, but it left deadly germs “deep in the invaded country.” Its real value, Doyle asserted, was as “an admirable aid to diagnosis,” in that a “single injection” would help doctors decide definitively whether a patient was “in any way tubercular.”


# # #

BTW, there’s a Koch mystery that I’ve been working on — so far without success.  A Google search on “robert koch”, noise pollution

yields a number of quotes like these:

“The day will come when man will have to fight merciless noise as the worst enemy of his health.” Robert Koch


“The Nobel Prize Winner Robert Koch predicted in 1910 that ‘One day man will have to fight noise as fiercely as cholera and pest’. “

as appears here

The quotes seems to have appeared first in the popular press mid-century and now is in journals.  Did Robert Koch actually compose these statements?

Wink writes:


If the woman with the MDR UTI had not traveled recently, perhaps her intimate contacts imported the resistance gene to her. As a former Navy physician, I think this is a worthwhile epidemiologic consideration.

Wink Weinberg


William writes:

Greetings TWIMers;

I am working my way through the TWIM episodes going backward in time and recently listened to Elio’s fascinating discussion on organelles. (Thoroughly enjoyed his lecture on the Nitrogen cycle as well.)

I just ran across this and so pass it on just in case you have not seen it.

“The first eukaryote is thought to have arisen when simpler archaea and bacteria joined forces. But in an Opinion paper published June 16 in Trends in Cell Biology, researchers propose that new genomic evidence derived from a deep-sea vent on the ocean floor suggests that the molecular machinery essential to eukaryotic life was probably borrowed, little by little over time, from those simpler ancestors.”

Overview at

Underlying paper is at

Dey et al. On the archaeal origins of eukaryotes. Trends in Cell Biology, 2016 DOI: 10.1016/j.tcb.2016.03.009


Kensington (Berkeley), CA

Kala writes:

Hello TWIM team,

I’m a veterinary microbiologist working full time in a veterinary diagnostic lab in Cork Ireland.

We had 2 lovely weeks of sun but were back to the rain again.

I did my undergrad in the University College Cork and only graduated this time last year.

I have finally after months of listening caught up with TWIM!

And can i just say these podcasts are absolutely wonderful to listen to while I pass my hours in the lab alone.

They have helped me keep up to date with all things micro as I would otherwise be completely isolated from the outside world.

One of my absolute favorite episodes is actually episode 10 ‘a symbiotic cloaking device’ all about V. fischeri and the bob tail squid. I’ve listened to this story so many times. And not just from TWIV but my lecturer in college who got me really excited about marine microbiology.

I’m hoping to in the not so distant future go and study in Bremen and do the Marmic masters, wish me luck!

I have so many questions but they are escaping me at this moment, I will email again in the future with questions 🙂 .

Thank you for the wonderful podcasts, keep up the awesome work!!!. Time to tackle the other twix episodes .

Kind Regards,


Supti writes:

hello I had a question related to microbiology

what is the difference between antibiotic sensitivity and antibiotic susceptibility?

thank you

Kyle writes:

Hi TWIMmers,

Thanks for all the wonderful podcasts! They’ve gotten me through many long days counting coccolithophores down here in Chile. Your descriptions of potentially daunting topics are spot on, as evidenced by the breadth of people who write you emails. You all are making very complex scientific ideas relatable to the lay-man/woman with a basic scientific background and it really is fantastic!

Just one quick potential topic: in my undergraduate days I did some research at a small rainforest station in Costa Rica. While I was there, one of the principal arguments I heard in favor of preserving rainforests is that rainforest diversity could lead to new antimicrobials, medicines, etc. Is there any basis to this argument? I noticed a dearth of rainforest-related TWIM episodes, and given the diverse microbial ecological communities in rainforests, I think this would be a fascinating topic for a future TWIM!

By the way, one of my favorite TWIM episodes so far was #107 in which you talked about the isolated indigenous community and how their gut microbes were susceptible to many types of antibiotics. Do you think saving some of these microbes for use as probiotics following antibiotic treatment could confer susceptibility in the remaining microbiota? Or are antibiotic susceptible strains already used in probiotics?

Thanks for all the bacteria for thought!

Kyle Fukui

Biochemist from Occidental College, CA

P.S. It’s winter here, so the high today is 11˚C with 62% humidity, 11 km/h wind, and a 30% chance of precipitation.

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