Worms As Therapy

Re: Bob Grant’s article about worm therapy for autoimmune disease:1 A minireview by Hanada et al., (Biol. Chem, 391:1365-70, 2010) of the RANKL/RANK system involving T-cell membrane protein ligands and ligand targets in various tissues, including specific neural and astroglial terrains in the brain, may provide additional support to the findings that inflammatory responses could play a role in autism.

Mel Winestock
ABD Laboratories
Oceanside, CA
2 In South Africa, where the free market adoption of genetically modified (GM) maize has risen to about 80 percent of the total hectarage grown, and even more for cotton, the crops were adopted enthusiastically precisely because they gave better yields, benefitting both the farmer and the consumer. The cost of seed for commercial growers is less of a constraint to profit than the extent of loss. And here, no one is worrying about the spread of traits,...

The folks who obsess about vaccines causing harm and about GM food and products being harmful in some way don’t live in the developing world, where vaccines protect against diseases that kill and GM products benefit poor farmers—and their customers.

Full disclosure: I have never received a cent from Monsanto. But I have helped make GM maize.

Ed Rybicki
University of Cape Town
Cape Town, South Africa
3 If public science research funding gets to the point where only applied science is funded, society itself will be greatly imperiled. It is basic science that fuels innovation in all fields and has done so for centuries. Basic science is the foundation for all applied science—without it, there is no applied science.

Even in the face of mounting energy and resource prices, society should never sacrifice the search for basic truths, which have the greatest power to discover principles that can ultimately develop technologies to overcome those energy/resource constraints.

Peter J. Stogios, Ph.D.
University Health Network,
Toronto, Ontario
4 Replace cell with brain and the different cellular measurement approaches with the ever-expanding range of structural and functional neuroimaging techniques led by MRI/fMRI and we find another field struggling with exactly the same problem of data volume and standards. Unfortunately we are even further behind the biologists in dealing with it, but right there with them in exploding the amount of data being generated daily.

Thank you for this excellent piece highlighting a defining problem of modern science that we all ignore to our peril. At some point our funding sources may reasonably ask why we are generating all of this data if we won’t share it all and don’t know what to do with much of it.

Stephen Strother
University of Toronto
Toronto, Canada

1. Bob Grant, “Opening a Can of Worms,” The Scientist, 25:42-47 February 2011.
2. Vanessa Schipani, “Alternative Agriculture,” The Scientist, 25:60-62, February 2011.
3. John Day, “When the wells run dry,” The Scientist News, February 16, 2011.
4. H. Steven Wiley, “At the Tipping Point,” The Scientist, 25:28, February 2011.

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