Exploring chronic disease
In 1934, a German scientist named Emmy Klieneberger-Nobel discovered that the bacteria in her Petri dish had changed form and lost their cell walls in the process. Seventy years later, biomedical researcher Trevor Marshall created a model describing how these bacteria, along with intracellular bacteria and pathogens that live together inside protected communities called biofilms, might be able to cause chronic disease and dysregulate the immune system.
To date, there are over 50 known species of bacteria capable of transforming into the L-form, many of which have been implicated in a wide array of chronic diseases including sarcoidosis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Lyme Disease, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease and multiple sclerosis.
Similarly, in just a short period of time, researchers studying internal biofilms have already pegged them as the cause of numerous chronic infections and diseases, and the list of illnesses attributed to these bacterial colonies continues to grow rapidly. According to a recent public statement from the National Institutes of Health, more than 65% of all microbial infections are caused by biofilms.
Marshall has developed a treatment that colleagues have named the Marshall Protocol. Patients on the treatment take pulsed, low-dose antibiotics and Benicar, a medication which activates the immune system. The goal is to kill L-form, biofilm, and other latent bacteria that cannot be killed by standard antibiotic therapy. Hundreds of patients around the world with a variety of chronic diseases are using the treatment. Nearly all are reporting improvement and some claim complete resolution of symptoms.
Bacteriality.com delves into the fascinating and complex science underlying and related to Marshall’s work.
The present time is a watershed moment in medical research. Antiquated ideas like Koch’s postulates and the notion that many chronic diseases are “autoimmune” are quickly running their course. In their stead, some researchers are starting to make the connection between latent pathogens and disease, many of them casting their scientific gaze upon the Vitamin D Receptor (VDR), the fundamental receptor of the immune system. Microbiologists are increasingly starting to study how organisms interact in communities to cause disease in lieu of looking for a single organism in a disease state.
Thanks to rapid advances in technology, scientists can now detect human pathogens that are unable to be cultured in a Petri dish. This has lead to the realization that the microorganisms living inside and on humans (the human microbiome) outnumber human cells by approximately a factor of ten. Some scientists estimate only that 1% of bacteria are able to be cultured without advanced technology. This means that approximately 99% of the bacteria capable of inhabiting the human body are just starting to be characterized and identified by researchers – most of whom are affiliated with a global endeavor known as the Human Microbiome Project. The probability that many of these bacteria are pathogens that contribute to the development of inflammatory disease is extremely high.
Nevertheless, most of the research discussed on this site turns a lot of conventional medicine on its head, and the medical community, many of whose members are fixated on finding a purely genetic cause for all forms of disease, is painfully slow to warm to new insights. This is especially true in a world where powerful drug and supplement corporations stand to lose billions if chronically ill patients can now recover using a therapy that costs no more than a few dollars a day.
In 1982, Australian researchers Barry Marshall and Robin Warren discovered that ulcers, previously attributed to stress, are actually caused by H. pylori bacteria. When Marshall first put forth his research doctors walked out of his lectures, and he was shunned by many of his peers. Finally, Marshall actually swallowed H. pylori bacteria and developed an ulcer. It was only then, twenty years after his discovery, that the medical community and the public began to take him seriously.
Perhaps if we can understand and communicate Dr. Trevor Marshall’s research and that of other scientists investigating the human microbiome, it will not take decades for the medical community to embrace the notion that many inflammatory diseases are likely caused by a wide array of chronic bacteria.
For those who may be wondering, the image in the header is an illustration based on a video taken by British clinician Dr. Andy Wright. Dr. Wright used a Bradford Variable Projection High Resolution Microscope to view L-form bacteria in the blood of a patient with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
I would like to thank Dr. Joyce Waterhouse for her help with the editing process
Amy Proal graduated from Georgetown University in 2005 with a degree in biology. While at Georgetown, she wrote her senior thesis on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and the Marshall Protocol.