Wink writes:

Dear Professors,

I have a minor question about the recent study on mosquito bites enhancing viral replication in the skin. When “neutrophils” were reported, did that imply neutrophilic granulocytes as opposed to eosinophils or basophils, and does it matter?

Wink Weinberg


Marieke writes:

Dear Wink,

Thank you for your question.

Basophils, eosinophils and neutrophils are all granulocytes, which are characterised by their granules in their cytoplasm. All three cell types develop in the bone marrow from a common precursor, the progranulocyte. However, their function, migration patterns and the markers they express are actually different. We never actually found significant numbers of basophils or eosinophils in this study. When we reported neutrophils, we identified or depleted these cells based on their high expression of Ly6G, which is not (as highly) expressed by basophils or eosinophils.

I hope this is a clear answer, let me know if you have more questions.

Best wishes,


Scott writes:

Dear virus gentlepeople–

May I suggest comrades? I’ve been using it lately, and even my rich capitalist friends don’t seem to mind, and it is gender neutral.

I may be a bit biased, as I have been gassed on three continents, so it has a good ring to my ears.

Thank you for the excellent podcasts, my knowledge has vastly increased on subjects I didn’t have but rudimentary science literacy on before.

I’m an avid fly fisherman like Dixon, but a warning should be issued on how far  one wanders down the path– or you will end up in helicopters in BC, floating rivers in Argentina, or being chased by Bulls in New Zealand.

(In the end, it seems about steelhead and permit, but a 3wt on a small stream is still best.)

Run with the hunted-


Rich Kessin writes:

HI Vincent, Dixon and company,

Is there any formal evidence that infection with Zika produces enough B and T cell responses to protect a fetus during a post-infection pregnancy?  

I love these podcasts!

Rich Kessin

Richard Kessin

Professor Emeritus of Pathology and Cell Biology

Columbia University

The Body Scientific, my  science column in The Lakeville Journal, Lakeville CT,  is available at:

The Famine of Men, a novel about a virus that only women can study, is available from or

Basel writes:

Dear TWiV-casters,

I enjoyed Episode 401. The letter Yegor wrote addressing incorporating history of science into science classes grabbed my attention.

This is because I believe I had the best general virology class ever, which in fact was one of the best courses I have ever taken, and I’ve taken many.

This course was led by Dr. Jarue Manning at University of California, Davis. I would HIGHLY recommend interviewing Dr. Manning as he has a very interesting background with a PhD in biophysics from UC Berkeley in 1969 and being a polio survivor himself.

I actually recall he spent the first few lectures talking about history of virology, and I wondered back then when will he actually start telling us about “virology”. He actually run us through what experiments were done to discover viruses (filterable agents), what experiments confirmed they are not toxins (viruses replicate, toxins don’t), what experiments were done to delineate if they RNA or DNA, and if they are single- vs double-stranded, all done in a history-telling and exciting narrative format. The best part that I recall vividly (now it’s been 12 years and I still remember it), how these lectures actually led us to naturally build Baltimore’s classification just based on the “stories” Dr. Manning told us.

TWiV itself is charting a new history of science, and I thank you for it.

Kind regards.

Kevin writes:

Hello Vincent:

I’m an organic chemist who sometimes enjoys listening to your show. In the recent episode where you were having a discussion with Stuart Firestein, one of you mentioned the notion of doing a “director’s cut” of a paper.

This brought to mind the sort of thing that Phil Baran, a well-known organic chemist with a bent towards total synthesis projects, does. Often people from his lab will post on their lab’s blog ( discussing the “behind the scenes” details that are often absent from the formal publication.

The post concerning their recent paper in Nature ( includes a YouTube video of the lab’s PI suiting up and going to the fume hood, then running the reaction discussed in the paper, which was interesting and slightly amusing (your mileage may vary).

I have no idea whether investigators in the virology/molecular biology field are doing anything like this, but it seems like a good example to follow. Perhaps other listeners could cite examples if any exist.

Thanks for all you do,


Solarkeen writes:

Keep twiving guys,  you’ve got a lot of listeners from Nigeria especially Ibadan city in the southwestern part. Hope you’ve had or planning to twiv on canine parvo CPV-2, I am thrilled about the ssDNA and the mutation rate.

Niklas writes:

Dear TWiV team,

Love the show, recently came across it when looking for a way to brush up on my virology. Thank you very much for the Youtube lecture Prof. Racaniello!

Here are a few humble thoughts from me:

On “The dolphins did it” you compared hand drying methods. What you didn’t mention, however, and baffles me is that in the 21st century you often still find yourself washing your hands carefully, only to then have to touch things like the tap or door handle, rendering all the effort useless.

On “Quaxxed”, a few thoughts. You probably know about this better than me but as far as I am aware, the anti-vaccine scare is fueled by multiple causes, making it so hard to fight:

  • Evil pharmaceutical companies are just trying to poison us in order to make money. While i doubt the first, the second is certainly true. Unfortunately, sometimes to an extent that only leads to damaging the reputation of the pharmaceutical industry. Vivid examples are Martin Shkreli and GSK’s Paroxetine. Not helping.
  • Supposed “doctors” using a mixture of fact and fiction to convince people that, for example, the danger of Zika is all made up (“The Truth Behind the Zika Virus” by Bergman, right next to Vincent’s “Virus Watch Zika Edition 4/29/16″…). This is then followed by luring them to the obvious “cure”, (“97% effective for ALL diseases”), available from that person for just a few hundred dollars and not at all hokus-pocus…(Chiropractic).
  • A variety of psychological effects like the availability cascade, confirmation bias, the frequency illusion (The book “You are not so smart” was quite the eye-opener for me a few years back. I now regard information even more critically than before, including my own memory and reasoning, not to mention newspaper articles…). This also leads to (for me horrifying) results like up to 56% (!!!!) of people between 30 and 50 believing in homeopathy in Central Europe (according to a study, if you believe it). Same goes for anti-vaccines. Kudos to Nina for fighting it! (I already have my hands full with my own family…)

Lastly, a video that I find very useful since it makes Zika understandable for non-scientists: (Zika virus – definition, symptoms & complications)

Best regards,


(Recently of New York, slowly coming to terms with the infernal imperial measurement system and the clapping interrupting operas, but that is a different story.)

PS: When will they finally stop poisoning us with dihydrogenmonoxide?

Jesse writes:

Dear Wonder TWiVs,

You talked in TWiV 345 about an association between one version of the pandemic flu vaccine and cases of narcolepsy, but there’s been some recent research and happenings that made me think you might want to give an update on the issue. If you already have done so though and I missed it, disregard this message.

For one, the paper you discussed in that episode from Science Translational Medicine has been retracted because the authors couldn’t reproduce the findings. Secondly, another paper has come out recently that did not find a real association between narcolepsy and the vaccine: “No Evidence for Disease History as a Risk Factor for Narcolepsy after A(H1N1)pdm09 Vaccination” (

Seems like something worth mentioning.

Keep up the great podcasting,


Neva writes:

Hi Twiv and all your other wonderful related podcasts,

Many listeners will send this pick I am sure.

Just began reading

I Contain Multitudes, the Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life by Ed Yong.

Cool book.

Very best regards,

Neva  in Buda TX

Amanda writes:

Greetings TWiVome from Regina, Saskatchewan. 28C (82.4F) today and not a cloud in the sky

Check out this site: American Gut

They have different levels of microbiome characterization that you can purchase here.

From a simple characterization of your own stool or skin or spit at $99, your family of 4 (even pets if you want) at $320, full sequencing of 1 or more of your bacteria, or even your virome ($2500)!!

I’ll be ordering my basic kit today, but my virome will have to wait until my bank account can support it.


Amanda Lang, PhD

Government of Saskatchewan

Director of Virology

Saskatchewan Disease Control Laboratory

Ministry of Health

Regina, Saskatchewan

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