About This Blog

Our bodies are made up by cells containing our own DNA. Plus 10 times as many with foreign DNA. The bacteria found on our skin, and inside our organs (intestine, vagina, mouth, nose, etc.) are referred to as our “microbiome”, outnumber our own cells by 10 to 1, and make up a vital organ with independent functions essential to our existence. Among other things bacteria in our gut help us metabolise nutrients and vitamins that we cannot otherwise process, and they assist our immune system in keeping pathogenic organisms at bay. We also refer to these bacteria as “commensals”.

Now, many of us also harbour intestinal parasites. Globally, billions of people are infested by worms (e.g. pinworm) and/or amoebae (more correctly, “protists”), at least at some point in their lives. Many of these parasites are non-pathogenic to otherwise healthy individuals. They are transmitted faecal-orally, either directly (personal contact) or indirectly (cysts surviving in the environment (water, food, soil, etc.), and keeping infectious for a given period of time). 

One of the most common parasites – if not the most common – found in humans is Blastocystis. It is possible that more than 1 billion people harbour this parasite, and there is indicative evidence that it may cause intestinal symptoms, although it is also clear that many people are colonised by Blastocystis without experiencing symptoms. We therefore investigate the role of this parasite in health and disease.

So, why this blog? Well, due four major reasons: 

1) Obligation. I have been working with Blastocystis since 2005. I’ve raised more than €600,000 for Blastocystis research, and the output from my research is published in journals that are not publicly accessible unless you pay. I feel a certain obligation towards the general public in terms of sharing my results and experience. 

2) Information. There is a lot of information on the internet about Blastocystis, much of which is unsupported and potentially misleading. With this blog I try to convey un-biased information and facts that have been documented in scientific journals. Not that this is necessarily always the absolute truth. But I believe that by keeping to facts we will much faster get to grips with the clinical significance of Blastocystis and learn how to deal with it, if we need to deal with it.

3) Resource. I (will) dedicate some of the posts or pages on this blog to Blastocystis-related resources, such as laboratory protocols, SOPs, etc. For instance, I hope that this blog will be useful and inspiring for students and even for colleagues who have already experience in Blastocystis research.
Getting a clear picture of the subtype distribution of Blastocystis in humans and non-human hosts across the globe is central to my ambition, and I want to advocate for the use of “barcoding” and the web site www.pubmlst.org/blastocystis for fast and standardised identification of Blastocystis subtypes based on sequence data; it allows for bulk submissions as well. If you want to have your sequences along with provenance data deposited in the database, please contact me and I will be happy to assist you.

4) Comment. Sometimes I’m posting comments on Blastocystis-specific papers or interesting papers from related research fields. I’m especially interested in the human intestinal microbiome, and how we can study the interaction between the host and common endo-symbionts (bacteria as well as Blastocystis and other protists).

If you want to leave a comment, you can either log in to Blogger and comment on a particular post, or you can find my email on my blogging profile and email me.

I use Google AdSense hoping that I can get enough revenue to cover expenses related to web hosting.

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