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Recent Posts

  • Interview with Ry Young: Phages and Phage Therapy – Pros/Cons and History February 17, 2018 - Ry Young is a Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at Texas A&M University. He is also director of the Center for Phage Technology. Since the early 1970s Ry has studied bacteriophages: viruses that infect bacteria. He is now one of the world’s leading bacteriophage experts. His lab investigates bacteriophages as models for a new class of antibacterials. ...
  • 20 Questions for Gurol Suel: biofilm electrical communication January 29, 2018 - Gürol Süel is a Professor of Molecular Biology and the Associate Director of the San Diego Center for Systems Biology. His research team integrates quantitative biology approaches with mathematical modeling to identify principles of bacterial organization and coordination. Most recently, the team discovered a new form of bacterial communication that arises in biofilms: Ion channel mediated electrical signaling. For more context on this ...
  • Immunostimulation: embracing a new treatment paradigm for chronic disease January 12, 2018 - Think back to the last time you got the flu (virus). The fever, the runny nose, the aches, the sore throat - what causes these and related symptoms? Most flu symptoms are not driven by the virus alone. Instead, they result from a “battle” between the virus and the human immune system. Symptoms begin when the immune system recognizes the ...
  • Interview with Robert Moir: Infection in Alzheimer’s/brain microbiome December 18, 2017 - Robert Moir is an assistant professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital (Boston). He studies Alzheimer's disease and other inflammatory conditions characterized by neurodegeneration. His research team has shown that the amyloid beta protein associated with Alzheimer's "plaque" is a potent antimicrobial peptide. Please read this blog post for more context on this important discovery.  Background ...
  • Cholesterol, fat, and human metabolism: a microbiome-based paradigm shift December 15, 2017 - At the age of 64, after a morning playing golf, president Dwight D Eisenhower had his first heart attack. As Pulitzer Prize winning author Gary Taubes describes in his book “Good Calories, Bad Calories” Eisenhower’s heart attack “constituted a learning experience on coronary artery disease (CAD).” After the event, his doctors, considered the top experts in the field, gave the ...
  • Interview with neuroscientist Michael VanElzakker: Vagus Nerve, ME/CFS, latent infection and more December 7, 2017 - Michael VanElzakker Phd, is a neuroscientist affiliated at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and Tufts University. He has two primary research interests: PostTraumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, and Myalgic encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS). He recently published a paper describing a novel hypothesis for ME/CFS that centers on infection of the Vagus Nerve. Note: This interview was transcribed from written notes and ...
  • Antimicrobial activity of amyloid beta and PrP in neurological disease: a paradigm shift November 17, 2017 - Many neurological conditions are characterized by the formation of proteins or “plaque” in brain tissue. Two such proteins are amyloid beta and prion protein (PrP). Amyloid beta forms the “plaque” associated with Alzheimer’s disease. PrP has been detected in the brain/nervous system of patients with Parkinson’s Disease, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and even major depression. Most of the scientific community currently ...
  • Interview with evolutionary biologist Paul Ewald: infection and chronic disease November 11, 2017 - Paul W. Ewald is an evolutionary biologist, specializing in the evolution of infectious disease. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Washington, in Zoology, with specialization in Ecology and Evolution. He is currently director of the program in Evolutionary Medicine at the Biology Department of the University of Louisville. Below is an interview I conducted with Ewald in 2008. What he describes is ...
  • Gut microbiome dysbiosis: The chicken/egg scenario November 6, 2017 - Just ten years ago the human body was assumed to be largely sterile. Today, molecular technologies have revealed complex microbial ecosystems in nearly every human organ/niche. These microbiome communities persist in blood, tissue, the brain, the liver, the amniotic fluid, the placenta and beyond. To date, the gut microbiome is the most widely studied human microbiome ecosystem. For one thing, ...
  • A letter to the ME/CFS research community (+ doctors, + patients) October 18, 2017 - Dear ME/CFS research community, My name is Amy Proal. I am a microbiologist who also suffers from ME/CFS. I first became ill with ME/CFS in 2004, while studying medicine at Georgetown University. Almost immediately I began to research the disease from bed and wrote my undergraduate thesis on ME/CFS. Several years later, I obtained a fellowship from Murdoch University (Australia) ...
  • Huge discovery: microbes in human blood/tissue vastly more diverse than previously known September 20, 2017 - Last post I described fascinating research on the immune response by the Mark Davis Lab at Stanford. But another Stanford research team, led by Steven Quake, has published the results an equally exciting study. In fact, the team’s discovery marks one of the most important findings in modern science. Quake and team used new methods to search for the DNA of ...
  • New Stanford University data clarifies immune dysfunction/infection in cancer, ME/CFS, MS September 15, 2017 - Mark Davis and his lab at Stanford University are on fire! They recently released fascinating data (some unpublished) on patients with cancer, Lyme disease, MS and ME/CFS. Davis discussed this data at a recent Open Medicine Foundation meeting. The talk was recorded and I HIGHLY encourage you to watch it! New Davis Lab Findings: Davis starts by confirming that ME/CFS is characterized by ...
  • My new peer-reviewed paper: Microbes INTERACT to cause chronic inflammatory disease September 10, 2017 - Hello readers! The image above shows different species of microbes communicating inside communities called biofilms. In many instances this kind of signaling is able to drive inflammatory disease processes. For much more on this topic, please check out my latest peer-reviewed paper published in Discovery Medicine "Microbe-Microbe and Host-Microbe Interactions Drive Microbiome Dysbiosis and Inflammatory Processes." Then come back here ...
  • The power of patient reported feedback: Part 1 January 29, 2016 - Last year I was invited to give a speech at a scientific conference that examined the role of the microbiome in autoimmune disease - concepts I describe in this Current Opinion in Rheumatology journal article. Our research team had also developed an immunostimulatory treatment for autoimmune disease based off concepts in the paper. Doctors in at least a dozen countries were ...
  • Of mice and not men: can complex human inflammatory disease be studied in mice? January 13, 2016 - Much of my junior year at Georgetown University was spent in an animal research facility. Along with my undergraduate thesis mentor and several fellow students, I studied the impact of a high-fat (ketogenic) diet in Sprague-Dawley rats. We had read reports in which human children with epilepsy who were fed this ketogenic diet experienced fewer seizures. Now we were attempting ...
  • Mothers and microbes, Part 2: The placental, breast milk, and breast tissue microbiomes December 27, 2015 - While the vaginal microbiome has received a great deal of attention from the research community, recent research also indicates that microbes persist in the womb, where they come in contact with a fetus before it is born. Studies demonstrating the presence of microbes in the amniotic fluid have now been bolstered by the discovery of a placental microbiome. Dysregulation of ...
  • Mothers and microbes, Part 1: The vaginal microbiome in health and disease December 20, 2015 - “Like mother, like daughter.” The phrase is often invoked to describe how children resemble their parents. While we know that human genes are passed from generation to generation, an expanding body of research now shows that many microbiome populations are also inherited. The microbes a child inherits are acquired from both parents and even siblings. However, microbial populations inherited from ...
  • Stanford researchers: The immune response is shaped by microbes rather than human genes December 11, 2015 - Two different people are riding the subway. A third person coughs on these individuals over the course of their trip. One person gets the flu, but the other doesn’t. Somewhere nearby, two more people accidentally eat a piece of meat that wasn’t correctly refrigerated. One develops food poisoning, but the other remains healthy. What factors contribute to these different outcomes? ...
  • Industry ties deeply influence guidelines for calcium/vitamin D intake December 3, 2015 - Are you taking vitamin D and calcium for bone health? If so, a new analysis makes it clear that the supplement guidelines you follow are often shaped by money rather than science. In July, Andrew Grey and Mark Bolland (University of Auckland, New Zealand) published an article in the British Medical Journal. Their article, “Web of industry-advocacy, and academia in ...
  • Disease-induced solitary confinement and the gut microbiome November 25, 2015 - What happens when a person dies alone, with no relatives or friends to provide information or help? Why do people die alone in some of the most populated areas of the world? A recent article in the New York Times delves into the topic by examining the life of George Bell, a man found dead in his Jackson Heights apartment ...
  • Fungi in the Alzheimer’s brain and changing views on amyloid beta November 18, 2015 - Just a few days after writing my last post on microbes in the brain, I read a study that shows even more evidence of chronic infectious agents in brain tissue. In a paper published this month, Pisa and team at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid studied the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). They found that all eleven AD ...
  • The newly discovered lymphatic system in the brain, and a possible brain microbiome November 11, 2015 - The brain has long been considered to be a sterile organ, an “immunoprivileged” body site that microbes cannot directly enter and infect. Most medical textbooks still contend that microbes cannot enter the healthy brain due to a layer of endothelial cells that separate the brain from the body. This layer of cells, called the blood-brain barrier, is believed to separate ...
  • Microbial signaling molecules drive cancer development November 3, 2015 - For the past century, scientists have associated certain microbes or microbial populations with the development of cancer. A recent study by researchers at Ghent University in Belgium expands on this research by demonstrating a previously undiscovered mechanism by which gastrointestinal microbes can drive cancer processes. The study, Crosstalk between the microbiome and cancer cells by quorum sensing peptides shows how ...