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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[1]. 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[2]. 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[3].

Lida Mattman, author of a reference book on stealth pathogens[4], believes that Borrelia is transmissible from human to human without an insect vector[5] and, in 2012, Judith Miklossy pointed out the similarities between tertiary neuroborreliosis and tertiary neurosyphilis[6], so we need to know whether there are other forms of transmission contributing to the pace at which the dementia pandemic is spreading.

Noel Baumber

Whitby, North Yorkshire 

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2014.20066465

Readers' comments (3)

  • Many thanks to the Pharmaceutical Journal for publishing this. A video of the presentation by Dr MacDonald in London on Alzheimer's and spirochaetes can be viewed at: http://www.spirochaetalalzheimersassociation.org/

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  • This recent review shows the highly significant association between Borreliosis and Alzheimer's Disease:

    J Alzheimers Dis. 2014 Sep 2. [Epub ahead of print]
    Bacterial Infection and Alzheimer's Disease: A Meta-Analysis.
    Maheshwari P, Eslick GD.

    Abstract
    The possibility of an infectious etiology for Alzheimer's disease (AD) has been repeatedly postulated over the past three decades. We provide the first meta-analysis to address the relationship between bacterial infection and AD. Studies examining the association between AD and spirochetal bacteria or Chlamydophila pneumoniae (Cpn) were identified through a systematic search of the databases MEDLINE, EMBASE, PubMed, and Google Scholar. Data combined from 25 relevant, primarily case-control studies demonstrated a statistically significant association between AD and detectable evidence of infection of either bacterial group.
    We found over a ten-fold increased occurrence of AD when there is detectable evidence of spirochetal infection (OR: 10.61; 95% CI: 3.38-33.29) and over a four-fold increased occurrence of AD in a conservative risk estimate (OR 4.45; 95% CI: 2.33-8.52).
    We found over a five-fold increased occurrence of AD with Cpn infection (OR 5.66; 95% CI: 1.83-17.51). This study shows a strongly positive association between bacterial infection and AD. Further detailed investigation of the role of bacterial infection is warranted.

    PMID: 25182736
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25182736

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  • I do not like the term "stealth pathogens" used by the late Prof. Lida Mattman. There is no indication "that Borrelia is transmissible from human to human without an insect vector", except in relatively rare documented cases from mother to fetus, and possibly with transplantation of infected organs. (Blood donation organisations do not ask for this infection, as far as I know - because B.burgdorferi seems to be not viable in circulating blood for any length of time.)

    I have major difficulties with the concept of borrelia biofilms in infected tissues. Starting in the 20s of the last century Prof. Gabriel Steiner (at the University of Heidelberg at that time) showed spirochetes / borreliae in active MS lesions in the CNS. (In 1922 he already had presented quite conclusive evidence that the causal infection is transmitted by ticks.) That is, G.Steiner obviously had discovered B.burgdorferi as the cause of MS, which is ignored by neurologists to this day. The micro photographs presented by him show single organisms, not "biofilms". (Two of his publications, from 1931 and 1962, can be obtained from the copyright owner, SPRINGER scientific publisher, or at a number of libraries, at least in Germany.)

    The important work on the role of spirochetes in Alzheimer's is that of Dr. Dr. Judith Miklossy, easily found via PubMed etc. The majority of organisms found in Alzheiimer' disease brains are "mouth spirochetes", mostly Treponemes, not Borreliae. (The former certainly are transmissible from person to person, but fortunately they seem to be confined to the mouth during most of our lifetime...)

    (My comment was about double this length, but was not accepted: "There was an error submitting your comment." I would suggest that the type of error is indicated, so it can be avoided. If the length is restricted this could and should be indicated in advance.)

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