Ticks are “master scientists of our skin,” says our guest — Seemay Chou, Assistant Professor at University of California, San Francisco. On this episode of the Bio Eats World Journal Club, Dr. Chou and host Lauren Richardson discuss how, over millions of years of evolution, ticks have developed a suite of tools to manipulate our skin physiology, all of which are delivered through their saliva as they feed. Pathogens, like the bacteria that cause Lyme Disease, take advantage of the tick’s tools to infect new hosts. But what if we could also learn to use these tools? In this conversation, we discuss the results and implications of the article “Ticks Resist Skin Commensals with Immune Factor of Bacterial Origin”, published in Cell, the dynamic nature of host-pathogen interactions, how ticks stole a tool from bacteria and then modified it to suit their needs, how our microbiome helps to protect us from ticks, how bias can influence how you set up experiments and interpret data, and how an un-fundable research project inspired a startup.
Lauren Richardson is the Founder and Principal of LR Bio LLC.