Will G8 funding for dementia research recognise the involvement of stealth pathogens in the global pandemic?
The G8 countries have agreed to tackle the pandemic of dementia that is leading to a crisis in medical and social care costs, but in focusing international attention on vascular dementia, the opportunity may well have been lost to investigate dementias claimed to be caused by stealth pathogens.
In December 2013, the director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine Peter Piot asked world leaders to confront the looming pandemic of dementia with concerted action. At the G8 Summit conference on dementia held in March 2014, the world dementia envoy Dennis Gillings told delegates that pharmaceutical companies need to be given incentives to invest in research. I would suggest that it is important for G8 countries not only to fund the companies developing medicines for vascular dementia (around 25% of cases), but to stimulate research into stealth pathogens that potentially underlie the cause and transmission of other forms of dementia and debilitating illnesses.
In June 2014, Alan MacDonald visited London to give the inaugural lecture to the Spirochaete Alzheimer Association. More than 30 years ago, he found plaques in Alzheimer brain tissue comprising biofilms of the spirochaete Borrelia bergdorferi. These are organised bacterial colonies that can be detected in multisystem illnesses such as chronic fatigue syndrome, human borreliosis and Lyme Arthritis. This spirochaete is a “cell wall deficient” stealth pathogen, purposefully changing its form to evade detection and antibody formation.
Reporting on Lyme borreliosis for the Department of Health, Brian Duerden, inspector of microbiology and infection control, had criticised culture mediums, unorthodox tests and unlicensed laboratories as being unable to provide “valid” evidence of spirochaete involvement for those with a wide range of conditions. A more proactive view comes from Christian Perronne, a French microbiologist, who reviewed 63 papers on tick-borne diseases and recognised the need to inject investment into research, to address medical complacency and raise awareness of the legacy of chronic disease.
Lida Mattman, author of a reference book on stealth pathogens, believes that Borrelia is transmissible from human to human without an insect vector and, in 2012, Judith Miklossy pointed out the similarities between tertiary neuroborreliosis and tertiary neurosyphilis, so we need to know whether there are other forms of transmission contributing to the pace at which the dementia pandemic is spreading.
Whitby, North Yorkshire
Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2014.20066465
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