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Mysterious Nanobacteria Linked To Human Illness


By James Donahue

May 2005


As microscopes get more and more powerful, and science peers deeper and deeper into the microscopic world, amazing life forms even smaller than virus are beginning to appear.


In 1988 Finnish biochemist Olavi Kajander was using an electron microscope to examine old cultures of mammalian cells in an effort to learn why they mysteriously died. He was astounded to find extremely tiny “particles” that he said were like bacteria, but about 100 times smaller, that were living inside the dying cells.


Kajander launched a scientific debate when he published a paper, calling these particles “nanobacteria” and claiming them to be a newly discovered form of life. There is debate because, like the elusive virus, the nanobacteria break a lot of rules established for being a living organism.


They are so small, from 20 to 200 nanometers in diameter, that many scientists argue they can’t harbor components necessary to sustain life. Also they are incredibly resistant to heat and other things that kill bacteria.


But also like the virus, these tiny little critters can replicate themselves and create changes in their environment. When they are found in the human body, these changes can sometimes affect our health.


Researchers have observed through the electron microscope that nanobacteria particles build shells of calcium phosphate around themselves. These tiny little deposits of calcium are found in the heart of, and possibly the cause of such painful and sometimes deadly human maladies as kidney stones, urinary stones, ovarian cancer, calcification of artery walls and prostate calcification.


In other words, where calcium deposits are found to be building in the human body, these tiny little creatures seem to be involved.


These discoveries have opened an entire new frontier of research. Yet, strangely enough, few groups are bothering to look into this field as yet. No more than a half-dozen research teams in the world are studying nanobacteria full-time.


One scientist, John Lieske, who led a Mayo Clinic study in 2004, noted that from what has already been learned, the nanobacteria may be linked to more human problems than presently known.


“How many kidney stones are caused by this. Are there other calcification-related diseases that are caused by nanobacteria? Is it infectious,” Lieske asks.


Indeed, an estimated 177,500 patients were treated in U.S. hospitals for kidney stones and related problems in 2001. More than 25,000 women in the U.S. were diagnosed every year with ovarian cancer. And about 14,000 Americans die yearly from complications caused by calcified arteries.



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