Eyes on the beach?

How many people would be scared away by the eye spots? I can think of a few (mom:). Amazing trip to #MariaIsland, Tasmania for @WildImmunity

Call for more #WildImmunology published as eLetter in Science!

Flies AS, Baker, ML, Le Nours, J, Rossjohn J. Response to “The future of humans as model organisms”. eLetter in Science. http://science.sciencemag.org/content/361/6402/552/tab-e-letters

Here is the full text:

RE: “The future of humans as model organisms” FitzGerald, et al., 552-553.

Andrew S. FliesAustralian Research Council Discovery Early Career Research Fellow,Menzies Institute for Medical Research, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania 7000, Australia

Michelle L. BakerResearch Scientist,CSIRO Health and Biosecurity Business Unit/Australian Animal Health Laboratory, Geelong, Victoria, 3220, Australia

Jerome Le NoursAustralian Research Council Future FellowBiomedicine Discovery Institute, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia

Jamie RossjohnAustralian Research Council Laureate FellowBiomedicine Discovery Institute, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia

(12 September 2018)

The Essay “The future of humans as model organisms” (10 Aug, p. 552) highlighted the potential to incorporate more “real-world” testing into biomedical research. Here we propose that the biomedical research community also takes a closer look at other genetically outbred animals in more natural environments. This approach would satisfy key points highlighted by FitzGerald et al.: (i) broadening the diversity of populations studied, (ii) taking advantage of natural “gene knockouts”, (iii) quantifying “physiological noise” due to genetics and the environment (1).

For example, bats, rodents and wild birds harbor many pathogens (e.g. rabies, hantavirus, influenza), thus providing insights into how these hosts are protected, which may lead to parallel insights for other species. Further, transmissible tumors in dogs (2) and Tasmanian devils (3, 4) are simultaneously a cancer, infectious disease, and allograft and provide opportunities to investigate immune regulation and evasion. Advances in monitoring techniques (e.g. remote-sensing) for these natural experiments allow a “more direct linkage to functional outcomes” (10 Aug, p. 553), such as fecundity and survival. Furthermore, these real-world “experiments” might have improved translational capacity for humans and veterinary medicine and stimulate ideas that are unlikely to be conceived in laboratory-based studies.

Finally, several amphibian, bat, and ape populations are in decline largely due to diseases (chytridiomycosis (5, 6), white nose syndrome (7), and ebola virus (8, 9)), therefore, fundamental knowledge gained from studying these natural disease models may not only advance human medicine but could also impact wildlife conservation for many generations. The increasing availability of genomes and “omics” approaches for non-model species has opened many new research pathways. However, to realize the full conservation and biomedical research potential a coordinated effort by an international consortium to develop species-specific reagents is needed.

References and Notes:
1. G. FitzGerald et al., The future of humans as model organisms. Science. 361, 552–553 (2018).
2. C. Murgia, J. K. Pritchard, S. Y. Kim, A. Fassati, R. A. Weiss, Clonal Origin and Evolution of a Transmissible Cancer. Cell. 126, 477–487 (2006).
3. A.-M. Pearse, K. Swift, Allograft theory: transmission of devil facial-tumour disease. Nature. 439, 549 (2006).
4. R. J. Pye et al., A second transmissible cancer in Tasmanian devils. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 113, 374–379 (2016).
5. J. Voyles et al., Shifts in disease dynamics in a tropical amphibian assemblage are not due to pathogen attenuation. Science. 359, 1517–1519 (2018).
6. J. Alan Pounds et al., Widespread amphibian extinctions from epidemic disease driven by global warming. Nature. 439, 161–167 (2006).
7. J. M. Lorch et al., Experimental infection of bats with Geomyces destructans causes white-nose syndrome. Nature. 480, 376–378 (2011).
8. P. D. Walsh et al., Catastrophic ape decline in western equatorial Africa. Nature. 422, 611–614 (2003).
9. K. L. Warfield et al., Vaccinating captive chimpanzees to save wild chimpanzees. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 111, 8873–8876 (2014).


“Do wild animals get allegies?”


Andy Flies @Wildimmunity addresses the question of “Do wild animals get allegies?” #WildImmunology

A little #Wildimmunity on a #Friday night BeakerStreet@TMAG @BeakerSteetSci @TasMuseum #Fluorobox

BeakerStreet@TMAG, a pop-up science bar in Hobart 10-11 August 2018

Looking forward to a weekend of science and fun this weekend @BeakerSteetSci @TasMuseum. See the @Wildimmunity #Fluorobox and #FAST proteins Friday 6-10pm!


Why not get a little wild immunology on a Friday night @Peppermint Bay with Dr Andrew Flies @WildImmunity @ResearchMenzies @UTAS_


Thank you for the support!

Thank you to everyone who continues to support our research through the Save the Tasmanian devil appeal. The #TassieDevil immunology and vaccine research has been sustained by this program and led to a successful 3-year ARC DECRA fellowship for Dr Andrew Flies @WildImmunity.

Another Emerging Mosquito-Borne Disease? Endemic Ross River Virus Transmission in the Absence of Marsupial Reservoirs | BioScience | Oxford Academic



Want to see what a normal distribution looks like?

This “statistics in slow motion” video is the best visual example that I have seen for understanding how statistics and probability work! It is highly unlikely that all of the beads will end up at the edges in any experiment – most will end up in the middle (i.e. normal distribution).