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Nanobacteria newly discovered cell walled microorganisms significantly contributed to turmoil around conventional medicine and its further development. Moreover, if nanobacteria are considered to be living organisms, some scientists speculate that they should be regarded not as bacteria but a newly discovered form of life. From the scientific perspective, nanobacteria have a cell diameter of 0.2-0.5 (mu)m and thus are the smallest known cell-walled bacteria. By examining nanobacterial 16S rRNA, Kajander, Ciftcioglu (1998) and coworkers have put nanobacteria in the alpha-2 subgroup of Proteobacteria, a subgroup that includes Brucella and Bartonella species.
Paradoxically, the scientists for a long time suspected high concentrations of calcium in the kidney as the cause of kidney stone formation. Practically, deposits of insoluble calcium salts can occur at several sites in the body but how they form is unclear. In 1998, Kajander and Ciftcioglu propose that nanobacteria may act as crystallizations centers for the initiation of kidney stones and other pathological calcifications. In fact, when the scientists examined 30 randomly collected kidney stones, they discovered living nanobacteria present in all of them.
Physicians have long suspected high concentrations of calcium in the kidney as the cause, but researchers at the University of Kuopio in Finland now have evidence that infectious bacteria use calcium and phosphate to build tiny protective shells. These small spheres may act as seeds for larger calcium deposits which become kidney stones. In fact, when the investigators examined 30 randomly collected kidney stones, they found living nanobacteria present in all of them. One year earlier scientists discovered nanobacteria in white films sticking to the surfaces of tissue culture vessels containing mammalian cells and media supplemented with bovine serum (Kajander et al, 1997).
The nanobacteria have distinctive characteristics, particularly heat resistance and the ability to pass through 0.1-jum sterilization filters. Nanobacteria use calcium and phosphate to build tiny protective shells, which provide protective shelter enabling them to survive conditions of physical stress. Mineral aggregates “closely resembling those found in tissue calcification and kidney stones” form around nanobacteria in serum-free medium. The authors describe these micrometer-thick mineral layers as “dwelling places” for the organisms. When they looked at 30 human kidney stones, all stained positively with nanobacteria-specific monoclonal antibodies. Bacteria with a morphological appearance consistent with nanobacteria were present in strongly stained stones (Kajander et al, 1997).
The scientists suggest that apatite produced by nanobacteria may “play a key role in the formation of all kidney stones” by making a central calcium phosphate deposit around which other crystalline components can collect. And, they add: “The possible role of nanobacteria in a variety of pathological calcification conditions (e.g. in atherosclerotic plaques) is under investigation.” According to contemporary medical expertise, it is known that nanobacteria and formed with them extraskeletal calcifications cause the following diseases: kidney and bladder stones, salivary gland stones, atherosclerosis, scleroderma, malignancies, and diffuse interstitial skeletal hyperostosis
During the last decade microbiology realized that blood can include close relatives of nanobacteria, without evident pathological consequences for it. For instance, Bartonella henselae can be found in the blood of almost half of the cats in the United States (Anderson & Neuman, 1997). Simultaneously, it is not known if cow’s milk contains nanobacteria and if the infection can be initiated by the oral route.
Practically, nanobacterial infections do occur in humans. During the analysis of 30 demineralized kidney or bladder stones with two different monoclonal antibodies, nanobacterial antigens were discovered in every specimen (Kajander & Ciftcioglu, 1998). In some cases, sterile filtered extracts of the stones also developed pure nanobacteria cultures, which when introduced intravenously into rabbits, localized predominantly in the kidneys. Simultaneously, kidney stones are generally not considered to have an infectious nature. However if assessed practically, the carbonate apatite released by imperceptible nanobacteria could supply a nidus for calcium oxalate crystal formation.
Discovery of nanobacteria imposes new challenges for contemporary medicine. In 2004, researchers reported finding nanobacteria in everything from heart disease to cancer and kidney stones (Mulhall, 2005). Some specialists argue that a test for nanobacteria can be considered to be an accurate predictor of heart disease risk. However, problems emerge not only on the practical level with diagnosis and treatments. Some critics argue against the very existence of nanobacteria and their cultures, which potentially decreases the chances for further research funding (Mulhall, 2005). From the practical perspective, because nanobacteria are sheltered in mineral concentrations, they are difficult to eliminate with short-term antibiotic treatment.
Medical science knows that the tetracyclines have an ability to accumulate on apatite and are bacteriostatic to nanobacteria. Trough this process nanobacteria should become localized for the antibiotic. Some medical evidence reveals a benefit for long-term tetracycline therapy in some patients with various diseases associated with extraskeletal calcification, including scleroderma.
The dilemma of effective treatment from nanobacteria is intensified with inability of interested parties, including governmental agencies to fund necessary research in the filed of nanobacteria-contaminated vaccines. Simultaneously, the issue is transforming in a pressing debate in the medical field and beyond with the appearance of the study published in Circulation Research claiming that calcium phosphate crystals cause inflammation in the arteries, which is a primary cause of the heart attack.
Kajander, E. O. & Ciftcioglu, N. (1998) Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, 95 (14): 8274-8279.
Kajander, E. O., Kuronen, I., Akerman, K., Pelttari, A. & Ciftcioglu, N. (1997) Proceedings of SPIE, 3111(11): 420-428.
Anderson, B. E. & Neuman, M. A. (1997) Clinical Microbiology Review 10, 203-209.
Mulhall D. (2005) The Nanobacteria Link to Heart Disease and Cancer available at
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