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All posts for the month July, 2020

I typed out a new hypothesis that came to me today (really a series of them) and felt this was worth sharing, so I did. Then I realized that I really need to both explain the terminology and concepts better for this blog as well as add in URLs for cited information, and so I decided to unpublish it. I did advertise it on Twitter but I know I get very few hits so I figure it’s safe enough to take it down for now.

I’m also compiling ideas for how to talk about the Moderna vaccine and possibly the probiotic bacterium that Dr. S has been testing (the first hypothesis I had is based on work with this bacterium, which has effects against lymphoma development), in a podcast episode about how clinical trials work.

I have to reiterate that while I have been in communication with someone at the UCLA email address for Dr. S., the responses I’m getting are frankly a little uncharacteristic for a scientist, and I have questions about why this is. So while I complain a LOT about how I am not getting support, information, feedback, or help writing grants (such as setting up a grants.gov portal, which I literally cannot do myself), I don’t want anyone to assume that the actual person Dr. S is a terrible communicator and colleague, since (and I admit this sounds paranoid) it’s possible he’s not actually seeing or replying to the messages I’ve been sending. Why I think someone might have gone to the trouble of hacking someone’s official university email is a very long story and I would prefer to leave that out of this blog. Just don’t bother Dr. S. unless it’s to find out if he’s really been talking to me since I met him in 2014.

I’ve had to develop all my hypotheses by myself, in isolation, with little to no feedback from anyone else and none involved in the actual formation of the ideas. This is not typically how science is done and I really wish that I had had more help and support, because my thinking may be improved or my background knowledge more extensive if so, but I think that the actual hypothesis I wrote out today (which has been emailed to people with connections to Cedars-Siani and the Broad Institute, just in case someone finds these ideas useful, and they are timely, since they relate to COVID-19 treatments) is still thought-provoking.

When the work is ready I’ll repost it.

Thanks, Liz

I wrote this as part of an unrelated series of musings on how to best characterize mixtures of microorganisms from complex samples. Those musings remain so, but I thought the below was worth sharing. Dysbiosis is defined as a dysregulation of the gut microbiome such that its composition is altered, and this has negative impacts on the host organism.

Might also be useful for the study of bacteria that form biofilms which may keep out viruses in mucosal surfaces like lung, nasal, throat, or intestinal tissues: which bacteria are consistently positively or negatively associated with viral presence or infection and which form capsular material that might affect the ability of viral particles (like a coronavirus particle in the lungs) to infect? Does the gut-lung axis affect the composition or thickness of lung mucus, so making it more difficult to traverse in some patients but not others, and since gut microbiome composition is associated with so many pathologies (diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, obesity, psychological conditions, cancers, inflammatory diseases) might this by why there is a relationship between these pathologies (which may come with dysbiosis) and susceptibility to novel coronavirus as well as severe cytokine storms?

Your gut microbiome composition is affected by a lot of factors: sleep cycles, stress, diet, age, general health, exercise, and probably also your genetic makeup. This is still an emerging field of study and the complexity is appreciated but has not yet been untangled, so people marketing products claiming “this product boosts the immune system” are basically only doing that- marketing products. Beware of hype (and in the case of your immune system, making it more active might result in autoimmune disorders, so you really want to talk to an immunologist if you are concerned about your immune function- not some quack selling pills).

That being said, if it is possible for you to take healthy measures, like increasing exercise if you get too little, eating more colorful fruits and vegetables, getting consistent and adequate sleep, and managing stress in a healthy way, this would be expected to alter the composition of your gut microbiome if consistently applied, and it is known that these measures will help your general health (just ask your doctor). It’s never too late to take up healthy habits.

[Update: I finally have some feedback on my hypothesis paper. mBio does not accept with revisions, so it was rejected, but essentially I was informed that I should resubmit with the requested revisions. They are reasonable and the suggestions were helpful- this was the kind of feedback I have been trying to get from someone all along. It will take me some time because I’ve been quite ill lately, and some of the requested changes are substantial.]