September 3, 2016
Click here for the full written transcript of this podcast episode.
Today's podcast guest is a guy who could save and be saving more lives than any guest I've ever had on the podcast.
While working for the army as a microbiologist, he developed two extremely unique methods of microbe detection. The first is a universal and physical virus counter (IVDS). The second is a computer program that, in conjunction with Mass Spectrometry, identifies the unique protein fragments (peptides) within a sample of anything and universally detects all the microbes in a sample (MSP) – from Ebola to influenza to Zika, West Nile Virus, AIDS and beyond, including known, unknown, and mutated viruses.
He was the feature of the NY Times Article: Scientists and Soldiers Solve a Bee Mystery, which was about work he did in the bee population in 2010 to shed light on colony collapse disorder.
But the promise of what he does goes beyond bees, and when it comes to health and fitness, in the right hands his Mass Spect Proteomics program could help scientists and physicians study the gut, infection and other elements of health. The need for a lot of lab work would be eliminated and human body clinicians would no longer be limited to parameters of particular panels, because they would now have access to one very inexpensive test that sees everything – EVERYTHING – and beats the pants off old-school methods of disease detection. The Integrated Virus Detection System (IVDS) he helped to develop is a fast-acting, highly portable, user-friendly, extremely accurate and efficient system for detecting the presence of, screening, identifying, and characterizing viruses.
Let's say, for example, you get bit by a mosquito (this analogy is inspired by the newspaper clip below that I was just reading this morning).
Over several days, you feel increasingly worse and worse.
What if, using your own saliva or other body fluid, you could immediately test in the comfort of your own home to see if you had Zika, West Nile, or some other microbe-related issue?
My guest is Dr. Charles Wick, and he is based out of a small tech firm in Montana that is working to make IVDS laptop sized units to be used use in mobile applications like airports, drugstores, homes, etc. to help quickly and accurately diagnose the flu and other bugs, along with developing technologies to help bee keepers manage their hives to save insects like bees and beetles.
Dr. Wick is a retired senior scientist from the US Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC) where he served both as a manager and research physical scientist and has made significant contributions to forensic science. Although his 40+ year professional career has spanned both the public sector and the military, his better-known work in the area of forensic science has occurred in concert with the Department of Defense (DOD). After earning four degrees from the University of Washington, Dr. Wick worked in the private sector for twelve years, leading to a patent, numerous publications, and international recognition among his colleagues.
In 1983, Dr. Wick joined the Vulnerability/Lethality Division of the United States Army Ballistic Research Laboratory, where he quickly achieved recognition as a manager and principal investigator. It was at this point that he made one of his first major contributions to forensic science and to the field of antiterrorism; his team was the first to utilize current technology to model sub-lethal chemical, biological, and nuclear agents. This achievement was beneficial to all areas of the Department of Defense, as well as to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and gained Wick international acclaim as an authority on individual performance for operations conducted on a nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) battlefield.
During his career in the United States Army, Wick rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Chemical Corps. He served as a Unit Commander for several rotations, a staff officer for six years (he was an Division Chemical Staff Officer for two rotations), Deputy Program Director Biological Defense Systems, and retired from the position of Commander of the 485th Chemical Battalion in April of 1999. Dr. Wick continued to work for the DOD as a civilian at ECBC. Two notable achievements, and one which earned him the Department of the Army Research and Development Award for Technical Excellence and a Federal Laboratory Consortium Technology Transfer Award in 2002, include his involvement in the invention of the Integrated Virus Detection System (IVDS), a fast-acting, highly portable, user-friendly, extremely accurate and efficient system for detecting the presence of, screening, identifying, and characterizing viruses. The IVDS can detect and identify the full spectrum of known, unknown, and mutated viruses, from AIDS to foot and mouth disease, to West Nile Virus, and beyond.
This system is compact, portable, and does not rely upon elaborate chemistry. The second, and equally award winning, was his leadership in the invention of the method for detecting and identifying microbes using Mass Spectrometry Proteomics. Each of these projects represent determined ten year efforts and are novel in their approaches to the detection and classification of microbes from complex matrices. Both topics are the subjects of two books published by CRC Press. Throughout his career, Wick has made lasting and important contributions to forensic science and to the field of antiterrorism. Dr. Wick holds several U.S. Patents in the area of microbe detection and classification. He has written more than forty-five civilian and military publications and has received myriad awards and citations, including the Department of the Army Meritorious Civilian Service Medal, the Department of the Army Superior Civilian Service Award, two United States Army Achievement Medals for Civilian Service, the Commander's Award for Civilian Service, the Technical Cooperation Achievement Award and twenty-five other decorations and awards for military and community service.
During our discussion, you'll discover:
-What bees disappearing has to do with the Zika virus…[15:38]
-Why colony collapse disorder in bees is happening (and whether cell phones are to blame)…[24:12 & 28:20]
-Why it's actually a pretty big deal for your health if bees die off…[31:00, 32:40 & 38:00]
-What can be done now to keep bees from disappearing…[34:00 & 51:15]
-How the biological testing equipment Charles developed is extremely unique, and why older detection methods are flawed…[18:30, 37:50 & 46:25]
-Ways this technology can be used to quickly find out if you have things like MRSA, Lyme, influenza or some kind of underlying chronic infection…[37:10 & 44:40]
-How the smartphone of the future could be used to detect virtually any microbial condition…[53:35]
-And much more…
Resources from this episode:
Book: Integrated Virus Detection
Book: Identifying Microbes by Mass Spectrometry Proteomics
The research page of Charles Wick
NY Times Article: Scientists and Soldiers Solve a Bee Mystery
The essential oils Ben Greenfield uses
Video 1 from YouTube: Charles discusses Mass Spectrometry Proteomics (MSP) and Integrated Virus Detection System (IVDS). Both, universal microbe detectors that, including Ebola, could universally detect every microbe in a single sample.
Video 2 from YouTube: In this second half, Charles answers questions about his IP, terrorist using Ebola, how MSP and IVDS have all but made PCR detection methods obsolete, and of course the meaning of life.
Do you have questions, comments or feedback for Dr. Charles Wick or me? Leave your thoughts below and one of us will reply!
10 thoughts on “The Best Way To Test For Zika Virus & Beyond: One Single, Very Inexpensive Test That Can Measure EVERYTHING – An Interview With Army Microbiologist & Virus Expert Dr. Charles Wick.”
Very interesting podcast as usual! I actually work for one of the market leading mass spectrometry instrumentation companies. Mass spec is a widely used technique across a broad range of industries and applications, such as; detection of endocrine disruptors and pharmaceutical products in drinking water, pesticide screening in food, wine and cannabis, vitamin D and steroid hormones in blood, and personalized medicine by advanced testing in proteomics, metabolomics and lipidomics.
Regarding the instrumentation itself, there is a constant drive towards more sensitive platforms that can detect trace levels of analytes, as well as smaller footprints, or miniaturization. While there are currently some platforms that are handheld and portable, we are currently quite far from one of these having the necessary capabilities to screen a gut microbiome or do some of the more complex proteomics analysis, as described by Dr. Wick.
If you are ever in the Bay Area and interested in seeing the instrumentation in a lab setting or want any additional information on mass spec applications please let me know.
Very interesting podcast. Would love to see this technology available someday for all of us to use at a decent price.
It’s my thinking, as well, that toxins are affecting many more creatures besides humans, particularly glyphosate. As an antibiotic, which it is, who knows how it’s altering the health of every living thing? Plus you have insect gut busting BT toxin and so on.
For me this was a tough podcast to listen to and I hope Dr. Wick’s books and lectures are more captivating and succinct. Ben you did a great job of reeling him back and keeping the conversation on point but as I was waiting for a concise answer to your questions I instead heard tangential minutia that didn’t give us anything we could use.
Is this technology something that’s available to us now as patients or consumers? This seems like a better way to identify Lyme microbes in sufferers since no other test is reliable.
Two companies are currently or will be using the ABOid software for the detection and identification of bacteria, virus and fungi or the IVDS instrument for the detection and quantification of viruses. Both are approachable for questions and proposals.
The first company has run more than 8,000 samples over several years using the IVDS instrument for virus detection and currently is acquiring the ABOid software to detect and identify microbes in insects:
795 Porter Hill Rd
Stevensville, MT 59870-6143
(406) 369-4214 http://www.bvs-inc.us/
The second company is : Biodetech, LLC which just started using the ABOid software for detection and identification of microbes in food. People, laboratories and businesses with other ideas should contact the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC) for possible license applications.
Regarding toxins. Yes, this has been an area of interest and much work has been done to classify these and understand their interactions with biological systems. The IVDS and ABOid software are two separate methods; one to detect viruses and the other to identify bacteria, viruses and fungi. The application to toxins has not been refined at this time.
Yes – it would be perfect and would identify to strain and place in proper relationship to other microbes (naturally it would have to be tested and FDA approved). At this time, both technologies are not FDA approved for clinical applications. This would be the next regulatory process to bring these technologies to market and making them available to the general healthcare community.
Super interesting podcast. I would love to have a link to the study about essential oils and bee health.
Awesome podcast Ben! As you may know, organic acids and the DUTCH are done via MS, so I’m wondering if the labs that perform those tests know about Dr. Wick’s software. I will investigate! Thanks and keep up the good work.
Article on using Fungi to help bees’ immune systems.
My personal geekiness LOVED this podcast. Am retired Med Tech. Makes me want to go back to lab work. Check out the relationship of glyphosate and bee colony collapse. Is this a factor?
could definitely be a factor.