Writing Prompt #3

Our behavior and health has been previously thought to exist in a vacuum, untouchable by the microbial world. But research uncovers every day that microbes have an enormous impact on many aspects of who we are, physiologically and psychologically as well. Even though microbes influence us, we also influence them through our own choices and behaviors. Many behaviors that influence our personal microbiomes center around what we eat and how we manage our hygiene. Eating, for example, has the power to change our microbiome for better or worse depending on what foods are consumed. One who eats mostly junk food will culture a microbiome that benefits from that type of food, and said microbiome would influence the person to eat more unhealthfully. The true is also said for healthy food, so developing habits with healthy food will cultivate a microbiome that feeds off of it. This can lead into a cycle of being accustomed to eating healthfully, or eating poorly and developing diseases such as obesity and diabetes. Another habit that influences one’s microbiome is cleanliness. Although I am not arguing against having good hygiene, being too meticulous about it has been correlated with higher rates of allergies and autoimmune disease. Although correlation does not equate to causation, one hypothesis for this phenomenon is that disallowing the body to be exposed to enough microbes and pathogens leaves the immune system unprepared and misguided, increasing one’s chances for allergies and autoimmune disease.

Writing Prompt #2

To summarize which HPV strains I think should be prioritized, they are the ones with both the highest prevalence, and highest risk for permanently debilitating or fatal disease. This includes the hepatitis B and C viruses, along with the human papillomavirus that causes cervical cancer. Even though the EBV virus causes mononucleosis and Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the latter is not a guaranteed, let alone common, outcome of EBV infection. Mononucleosis is a severe infection, but rarely fatal, and resolves within months. Hepatitis, until recently for hep C, has been a lifelong condition with treatment but no cure. Hepatitis B and C cause not only liver cancer, but liver failure of other causes. A vaccine for hepatitis B and C should be prioritized for these reasons. The human papillomavirus is a common STD and not infrequently causes cervical cancer, so a vaccine for this virus should be prioritized as well. Viruses and their respective diseases to target after ones that are prioritized would be the EBV virus and the HTLV-1 virus. These viruses can cause deadly cancers; however, they do not do so on a frequent basis that would warrant the same calibre of funding that should be directed towards hepatitis or HPV. The lowest priority would be the Kaposi’s Sarcoma virus, because indirect treatment involves keeping a patient immunocompetent-as in, instead of treating KSHV, the cause of the immunosuppression in the patient is treated instead.

Writing Prompt #1

There is an emerging body of evidence that links microbes to many human diseases and conditions that are not inherently infectious. Such diseases and conditions I know of so far include any autoimmune disease (molecular mimicry is a huge topic here), allergies and other inflammatory disorders (a lack of microbes seems to be a concern rather than the presence of specific species here), cancers, obesity (too much gut yeast), and mental health disorders associated with my favorite pathogen Toxoplasma Gondii. I have also learned a fair amount about research being done on correlations between microbes and autism (leaky gut syndrome is apparently common in more intense cases of this neurology).