Archive for the ‘research’ Category

Research For Chronic Lyme Fellowships Awarded



GREENWICH, Conn (Dec. 5, 2017)—Global Lyme Alliance (GLA), the leading 501(c)(3) dedicated to conquering Lyme and other tick-borne diseases through research, education and awareness, today announced the awarding of its first-ever fellowships to five young postdoctoral scientists whose work focuses on Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome (PTLDS) or chronic Lyme.

The three-year fellowships, made possible with the support of Deborah and Mark Blackman, will support five recent Ph.D. graduates with specific interest in understanding whether persistence of the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, the Lyme disease pathogen, or host evasion mechanisms are responsible for the continued symptoms experienced by patients treated for Lyme disease.

“The new fellows are hard-working and brilliant young scientists with fresh ideas who will tackle the mechanistic underpinnings of PTLDS,” said Mayla Hsu, Ph.D., GLA’s director of research and grants. “We’re delighted to be able to support these researchers at the beginning of their careers.”

The five are:

  • George Aranjuez, Ph.D., University of Central Florida, is studying the molecular mechanisms that Borrelia uses to survive during mammalian infection and how it evades the immune system.
  • Ashley Groshong, Ph.D., University of Connecticut, is examining the link between Borrelia protein metabolism and its ability to form persister cells thus evading antibiotic assault.
  • Matthew Muramatsu, Ph.D., University of Texas-Southwestern, is exploring how the genetics of persister Borrelia differ from that of replicating bacteria. His work will focus on how the transcription signals that start the persister pathway are regulated.
  • Bijaya Sharma, Ph.D., Tufts University, is studying whether immune deficiency is related to continued symptoms in Borrelia-infected mice. Her work explores the genetic factors in Borrelia that underlie bacterial persistence.
  • Xuran Zhuang, Ph.D., University of Maryland, will use tick microinjection to study the growth of persister bacteria and its genetic pathways in samples she recovers from patients.

The “Blackman-GLA Postdoctoral Fellowships” will total $1,125,000. Each fellow will receive $75,000 per year, for each of the three years, including travel expenses to Lyme disease conferences and an invitation to GLA’s annual closed-door scientific symposium, where they will participate in scientific discussions, present their findings and meet with program donors Deborah and Mark Blackman.

All applicants were required to submit a detailed scientific proposal for expert review. Annual reports on progress of project milestones will be required before second and final installments will be awarded.

“Supporting young researchers at the beginning of their careers shows the commitment of GLA and the Blackmans to nurture the development of a cadre of experts in the Lyme disease field,” said Scott Santarella, GLA’s CEO. “We also hope that the findings of these scientists will be potentially broadly applicable to other infectious diseases.”

In addition to the fellowships, GLA awards grants each year to researchers working on promising projects that best fulfill the organization’s goal to improve diagnostic testing and uncover more effective treatment protocols. Proposals received for the 2017-18 research grant cycle represented a broad range of interests ranging from tick ecology to co-infections, from new treatment approaches to basic biology of Borrelia infection in the mouse model, in both its acute and chronic stages. The 2017-18 grantees will be announced before the end of the year.

Global Lyme Alliance (GLA) is the leading 501(c)(3) dedicated to conquering Lyme disease through research, education and awareness. GLA has gained national prominence for funding the most urgent and promising research in the field, while expanding education and awareness programs for the general public and physicians. Learn more at


LDo’s Top 10 Lyme Research Questions


Press release: releases “Top 10 Lyme Disease Research Questions,” as federal government weighs options in fight against growing epidemic.



Suppression of Microscopy for Lyme Diagnostics – Professor Laane

Interview With Professor Laane About the Suppression of Microscopy for Lyme Diagnostics

Written by Huib Kraaijeveld


Around 2003 the WHO encouraged research into microscopy as a direct test for the Borrelia spirochete, the pathogen causing Lyme disease. When a promising new and simple technique was discovered in 2013, it was however violently attacked. Not on the science itself, which is the normal procedure in science, but personally. Now retired professor microbiology Morten Laane was fired after he gave a lecture at a scientific conference in 2014. Moreover, his laboratory was closed down, the website of the scientific journal was hacked and the article disappeared. An exclusive interview.

“If experts treated airplane accidents in the same manner as an average medical scientist studies disease, I would book my next travel to the USA by ship.”

Professor Laane

Courtesy of Under Our Skin

Who is professor Laane?

Born in July 1940, in the small city of Toensberg, Morton Laane grew up during the second World War. “My mother visited her sister in the city of Bergen the ninth of april 1940 the day war broke out in Norway. They survived the severe attacks by the German warships. My mother travelled along the coast by a Norwegian local ship to the small city of Toensberg where the family lived close to the Oslo fjord. This was not a very smart idea, as several ships were attacked and destroyed by German submarines.

My father was in Finmark, the arctic part of Norway, together with a substantial number of Norwegian soldiers as a medical officer. When I was born, my mother, who had professional training in handling weapons, sat alone with a hidden gun in a small flat close to the German headquarter across the street. When the free artic part capitulated a couple of months after the start of the German invasion, he was first arrested by the Germans, later released and went back to Toensberg.

In 1947 my father showed me how to detect the Syphilis spirochete by very simple microscopy. Numerous sailors lived in this city known for its substantial commercial fleet. Back then, Syphilis infection was not uncommon in sailors.

My father had a small, old Leitz brass microscope of high quality. A tiny sample from the patient was mixed with an equal part of drawing ink on the glass slide made for microscopy. Drawing ink consists of extremely tiny black particles (coal). They do not penetrate into the bacteria. Normally they are almost invisible. Light pass through the unstained bacteria against a total black background.

This started my interest for microscopy. Later my father specialised in psychiatry. He had no use of his microscope and I got it as a gift. Looking back, almost everything in my life started as a hobby.

I became scientific assistent in general experimental genetics. My boss, Dr. Øistein Stromnaes worked with the fungus Penicillium. Nobody had seen its chromosomes before, but I discovered a simple method to count them in the light microscope.

So I was offered a research fellowship a the University of Bergen, I continued my research there and my PhD dissertation took place in 1971. The committee evaluated my theses as very good and suggested that I might have the qualifications of a personal professor position for life time and further develop new methods in genetics.

One of my discoveries regarding Penicillium brought me in contact with Lynn Margulis, then Lynn Sagan, wife of the famous Carl Sagan. Her research on cellular evolution and endosymbiosis led to the understanding that the energy-converting organelles, the mitochondria and chloroplasts, are actually bacterial symbionts living inside eukaryotic cells. This discovery earned her the reputation of being the most famous scientist in evolutionary biology after Charles Darwin.

My discovery was connected with her spirochete research, which focused on the symbiotic nature of the relationship between spirochetes and their hosts, in particular the noted ability of these bacteria to form dormant “round bodies” that are capable of reactivation. Nobody in the world knew more about spirochetes than Lynn.*

Later I discovered a somewhat similar structure in the slime mould (Physarum) which was much used for experimental research. I got in touch with Professor Ivar Giaever, a Nobel laureate in Physics and we cooperated for many years supervising Master and Ph.D. Students.”

Microscopic Lyme diagnostics

Microscopy is considered the Golden Standard in diagnostics for Syphilis. Given his background and expertise in microscopy, it made sense to Laane to try and find a method to detect the Borrelia in infected blood.

Laane: “My coworkers and I had published a series of papers in the Norwegian journal ‘Biolog’ regarding a problematic sheep disease called “alveld”. The papers contained unusual and spectacular images of possible toxic blue green algae (bacteria) that were suspected to be connected with this disease.

The Biological Institute then asked for cooperation regarding Lyme infections in order to compare microscopy and molecular tests. The Institute was responsible for administration regarding formal permissions to do medical research. It turned out that no reliable data were obtained from the molecular studies. The institute was responsible for this part. Microscopy showed, however, characteristic spirochetes in a number of patients together with other organisms such as Babesia.

The syphilis and Borrelia spirochetes share many properties. They cause permanent infections in humans which cause long-lasting, multi-stage diseases. They exist in more than one form – sometimes in the long spirochete form, but also in a round “cyst-like” form. The spirochete form can be made visible by simple methods and observed with a microscope.

Borrelia spirochetes in dry smears and in isotonic solutions appear as very thin cells, only 0.2 micrometers wide, and as very long – in the range of 50 to 100 micrometers. These are visible above the resolution limit for light microscopy – due to what we call light interference – by slight defocusing. In dry preparations, a focus error of more than 1/1000 mm renders them invisible under the microscope. In wet preparations, the cells swell substantially.

My colleague and I published the results of our part of the project due to our firm belief that microscopy is useful for detecting these infections. Beforehand we were assured by the Institute that formal permissions were granted by the health authorities. It turned out that the Institute, somehow had forgot to point out in a formal enough manner that a substantial part of the project included microscopy by us!

Our project leader was educated as a medical doctor, and had later became a biologist. He was also Head of the Institute to which the project was connected. We, my colleague and I, got a copy of the first page of the application accepted and signed by the Health authorities. We did not, unfortunately, see the entire application before it was too late, as the project description was incomplete in that it did not express without any doubts that about half of the project involved extensive use of microscopy to analyze samples.

The project leader knew of my cooperation with Oeystein Brorson, the extremely clever technician who was able to grow Borrelia from infected blood samples. We had agreed that the application should be written to state that extensive microscopy was needed for the project as a way to confirm the results of molecular tests.

The Institute received around 2 million euro (NOK 20 mln) and bought two DNA machines. The test project was thus an official Institute project, not an application by a group of three scientists. In hindsight, we should have asked to see the complete application, but we did not and went on the trust for our project leader. This turned out to be a mistake, as we were later blamed for not reading the regulations for medical research and additional legal papers.

The trust that caused us to not read the full application was labelled as “intention,” to mean we intended to subvert the regulations when we embarked on this project. This is simply not true.

Silenced for speaking

After publishing the 2013 article ‘A simple method for the detection of live Borrelia spirochetes in human blood using classical microscopy techniques’, professor Laane was invited to give a lecture at the 2014 Norvect conference in Oslo. An English patient saved the pdf, so you can still read it, via the link provided.

I was present at that conference and still remember how nervous he was. The reason was that several medical professors complained to his university. He was threatened with losing his job, if he would speak at the conference.

In fact, he did not literally speak – as you can see in the movie below – but used performing arts to show the slides of the spirochetes. Professor Laane was fired anyway and his laboratory was closed down.

Laane: “As for being forbidden to speak, Waldemar Broegger, a Geology professor in the late half of the nineteenth century was forbidden to speak about Charles Darwin’s evolution theory. Lynn Margulis was originally ridiculed for her theories on the evolutionary origins of mitochondria and chloroplasts and later received numerous awards for this discovery. As both of these scientists were found to be right and later became famous, I feel I am in good company.

The 2013 publication of ‘A simple method for the detection of live Borrelia spirochaetes in human blood using classical microscopy techniques’ in the journal Biological and Biomedical Reports resulted in much opposition by conservative medical doctors and some scientists, most of whom had little or no microbiology experience working with spirochetes in a laboratory environment.

The article and research was criticized because the cellular objects we were observing were presumed to be “artifacts,” meaning objects of some other origin that just magically appeared in our samples. It’s extremely important to point out that all of our principal research was performed under highly controlled conditions, and our results were confirmed using more than one microscopy method. The critics of our work have yet to explain how these supposed “artifacts” we observed were able to reproduce and even move like spirochetes, which we observed them doing, and even more importantly, the critics have failed to explain how an “artifact” could possibly contain nucleic acids from Borrelia.

Yet, in that same year Dr. Alan MacDonald found out independently the same as me regarding how to detect chronic Lyme infections in human blood. Before this the assumed borrelia bacteria had been found by a Norwegian microscopist, who had an extremely ill son from Lyme.

MacDonalds arguments in these two videos (part one and part two) are brief, but very much to the point. He has later developed methods to detect single Borrelia bacteria direct in a microscope slide by exact molecular methods.

Oeystein Brorson is also mentioned by MacDonald. He was the researcher who grew all known strains of Borrelia in Norway, sent me samples and cooperated with Lynn Margulis and me, until he got disabled due to disease and had to leave his job.

After my lab was closed down, also the website of the scientific journal that published our article was so severely hacked that it stayed offline for three years. Once it came back up, our article had dissapeared.

The hacking of the Journal ‘Biological and Biomedical Reports’ seems to be done with a person knowing more than my closest enemies. And was someone with access to a quite advanced compilator system. Why this was done might well have been political or personal prestige.

I have never seen this happening on any topic in science before.”

Proof or propaganda?

In 2016 the Norwegian Health Department (FHI) published the study ‘Validate or falsify: Lessons learned from a microscopy method claimed to be useful for detecting Borrelia and Babesia organisms in human blood’. It stated,

“microscopy by the LM-method identified structures claimed to be Borrelia- and/or Babesia in 66% of the blood samples of the patient group and in 85% in the healthy control group”.

The TV2 reporter in the infamous documentary ‘Deceit or Borrelia’ misquoted this sentence by claiming that “it was proven that Dark Field microscopy produces 85% false positives”.

There are however suspicions that the Norwegian study was set up to discredit professor Laane’s work, using contaminated blood.


“Officially, on their website The National Institute of Public Health claimed that the only known case of Babesia in Norway was a veterinarian that have had his spleen removed, and else that Babesia was unknown in the Norwegian population.

But I found a faked sample of Babesia. It was blood from a cow (or ox). It was mixed with human blood from a socalled control person and sent to me by mail.

Of course, this sample clotted impossible to see anything in the sample by microscopy except lumps of erytrocytes and fibrine fibers. If I had got the original sample unmixed, I would have found them at once. The FHI showed me a few images from a preparation they had made themselves, BEFORE it was mixed with human blood. The Babesia images there were the same as I found in several so-called control samples.

When I showed them, they looked a little worried – like school children not telling the truth to their teacher – but they would not admit that control samples contained Babesia merozoites.”


Borrelia stained with the Mysterud-Laane method, blue color.


Live biofilm of Borrelias developing in a mixture of blood and sodium citrate (this patient was tested positive also by molecular methods by American laboratory).


In the introduction to their 2016 article, the FHI authors also state that Lyme serology has a 70-90% sensitivity in the earliest stages and a sensitivity of almost 100% in later stages, which suddenly seems to become the new mantra in several countries. This seems to have been taken from a 2016 article written by IDSA and CDC authors, which was criticised for using circular logic.


“A recent report presented in Norwegian newspapers claim that inaccurate science, especially in medical topics, is common. Norwegian Professor Oeyvind Oesterud has written several short articles in Aftenposten, Norway’s largest newspaper about science and popular science papers.”

He points out that false conclusions are favoured by both journals and media on the criteria that discoveries should be spectacular. Unless they are not, they are not accepted. Also the official evaluation system for research grants favours this. Many of these discoveries can not be repeated. But it generates much money for the universities.

Such scientists believe in accepted science. Any deviation shown by experiment may be interpreted as incorrect or false. One may wonder why they publish at all. Regarding deviating disease data they are often neglected – according to what the medical scientist was taught as a student by his professor. The deviating results are never studier further and ignored as “errors”. Up to about half of recent medical papers may contain this.

The result is delayed progress, sometimes with big consequences for severely ill patients. Patients that could be saved. Disease problems are very complicated and there is need for research listening to what both the patients tell and meticulous analysis of unexpected data.

As a final thought:

“Travel by modern airplanes is now very safe. If experts treated airplane accidents in the same manner as an average medical scientist studies disease, I would book my next travel to the USA by ship.”  Professor Laane

Exception or a pattern?

The European Union has recently provided a 2 million euro grant to a cooperation of three parties to develop a better Lyme test, as the current one is considered imperfect. At best.

So why are there several indication of the active repression and sabotage of new, better and direct ways to diagnose Lyme? Is professor Laane’s story unique or showing a doisturbing pattern?

“This never happened before on any topic in the history of science in Norway”, Laane said in his interview with the makers of ‘Under Our Skin Emergence’. Yet also in other countries scientists have been attacked for working on promising new and direct Lyme tests.

In 2014, French lab director Schaller was fined was fined with paying 280,000 euro to the government and was sentenced to nine months in jail. Also in 2014 the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) publicly attacked the credibility of Advanced Laboratory Services, which had developed a culture-based test for Lyme disease diagnosis. The basis for the CDC’s attack has since been proven wrong, yet the CDC has never retracted the article in which the errant criticism was made.

A direct and ‘no false-positive’ DNA test for Lyme was no longer made available to the general public, after its inventor was fired from a Connecticut hospital in 2010. And recently media attacked the tests of specialised labs in Germany, using undercover reporters and twisted patients’ stories, claiming they were either not ‘FDA approved’. As professor Ahern explained in her recent interview, none of the tests promoted by the CDC or your national Health agencies are ‘FDA approved’.

The next interview with Dr. Lee will look into what happened around the development and public accessibility of the DNA diagnostics mentioned above. It will be published very soon.

* Professor Laane and I will work together on a future article about the work of Lynn Margulis, as too few people seem to have heard of her important work.

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Drs. Fallon & Sotsky – Lyme Book Out


Conquering Lyme Disease
Science Bridges the Great Divide

Brian A. Fallon, MD, and Jennifer Sotsky, MD

Columbia University Press

Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne illness in the United States, with more than 300,000 cases diagnosed each year. However, doctors are deeply divided on how to diagnose and treat it, giving rise to the controversy known as the “Lyme Wars.” Firmly entrenched camps have emerged, causing physicians, patient communities, and insurance providers to be pitted against one another in a struggle to define Lyme disease and its clinical challenges. Health care providers may not be aware of its diverse manifestations or the limitations of diagnostic tests. Meanwhile, patients have felt dismissed by their doctors and confused by the conflicting opinions and dubious self-help information found online.

In this authoritative book, the Columbia University Medical Center physicians Brian A. Fallon and Jennifer Sotsky explain that, despite the vexing “Lyme Wars,” there is cause for both doctors and patients to be optimistic. The past decade’s advances in precision medicine and biotechnology are reshaping our understanding of Lyme disease and accelerating the discovery of new tools to diagnose and treat it, such that the great divide previously separating medical communities is now being bridged. Drawing on both extensive clinical experience and cutting-edge research, Fallon, Sotsky, and their colleagues present these paradigm-shifting breakthroughs in language accessible to both sides. They clearly explain the immunologic, infectious, and neurologic basis of chronic symptoms, the cognitive and psychological impact of the disease, as well as current and emerging diagnostic tests, treatments, and prevention strategies. Written for the educated patient and health care provider seeking to learn more, Conquering Lyme Disease gives an up-to-the-minute overview of the science that is transforming the way we address this complex illness. It argues forcefully that the expanding plague of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases can be confronted successfully and may soon even be reversed.

Brian A. Fallon, MD, is director of the Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases Research Center at the Columbia University Medical Center.

Jennifer Sotsky, MD, is a physician with a specialty in narrative medicine. She is a resident at Columbia University Medical Center.


Levels of Evidence & Media Liability Double Standards: Zika vs Aluminum  By James Lyons Weiler, Dec, 2017

Zika vs. Aluminum: Double Standards on Levels of Evidence and Media Liability

Millions of Dollars spent, Massive Media Coverage for Zika and Microcephaly – Based on One Autospy Report. Aluminum Found in Five Autistic Brains (N=5)… Media Crickets.
WHEN THE CDC announced that Zika virus had been found in 1 (ONE) brain of an aborted fetus from Brazil back in 2016, they heralded that 1 (ONE) data point as “The Srongest Evidence Yet”. Here’s the BBC News’s webpage from 10 Feb 2016:


And here is the Washington Post’s coverage:


And look at the page from USA Today:


All of that for ONE autopsy result.

The study published last week by Dr. Chris Exley found high levels of aluminum in 5/5 kids with autism.


CDC has ONE autopsy report. Dr. Exley has FIVE.

Some have criticized the Exley study for not having “controls”. I’m sorry? There is not supposed to be ANY aluminum in children’s brains. Tested against the null hypothesis, yes, there is significantly more than zero.

CDC’s fetus with Zika virus came from a population in which Zika virus infection was high. Most cases of Zika virus infection during pregnancy did not lead to microcephaly. And microcephaly was highest in the northeastern part of Brazil, in poor women from the slums… who were being experimented on with whole-cell pertussis.

Yes, you read that right. WHOLE cell pertussis.

Well, it’s one thing to say the media is biased. After all, Exley’s study provides the strongest evidence to date that aluminum from vaccines is involved as a cause of autism. In fact, the study leaves no room for doubt, if we apply the same standard of the level of evidence used to support the idea that Congress had to pony up $1.1 Billion dollars for a vaccine against Zika.

But there is AMPLE room for doubt that Zika drove the microcephaly increase in Brazil.

Here is a timeline of microcephaly in Brazil:

Note that the microcephaly increase actually started in July 2012, a year after the advent of the national Stork program, a prenatal care program that includes vaccination during pregnancy. And note that July 2012 is BEFORE Zika landed on the continent of S. America in July 2014. In December 2014, Brazil’s mandatory Tdap vaccination program started. But vaccination during pregnancy had already begun. The CDC’s autopsied fetus study was published in early 2016 – that’s the CDC’s best evidence to date.

So it turns out that Zika infection rates are seasonal in Brazil. So we’d expect another surge in microcephaly with the annual increase in Zika infections, right?


No, not at all. Why?

Zika does not cause microcephaly. The American taxpayer has been duped. And sprayed with pesticides to “protect” against Zikain NYC even before any reported cases of Zika – with pesticides that are known to cause autism.

So when can we start asking: Is the media bias in the US now a causal factor in the autism epidemic? How can the media be held accountable?

What Can You Do?

You can write to the reporters on each of these stories and ask them to report on Dr. Exley’s study as providing “proof” that aluminum causes autism – be sure to send them the link to this blog.

Here are the email addresses:
Lena H. Sun (

Liz Szabo – nevermind, she is a senior medical reporter at Kaiser Health News in Washington. You can tweet her @LizSzabo.

Comment here on PBS’s lack of coverage:

You can also PRINT a copy of the aluminum study and mail it to a pediatrician, an ob/gyn, a legislator…

If bona fide, objective reporters write to me, I’ll share a manuscript that was not published by PLOS One because they found it too “confusing”. The manuscript simply listed all of the reported possible causes of microcephaly and examined the available evidence at that time.

Read more about Dr. Exley’s study:

Discovery of “Shockingly High” Levels of Aluminum in Brains of Individuals with Autism Suggests Link with Aluminum-Containing Vaccines

New study: Massive Aluminum levels in Autism brains, is this the smoking gun for vaccines?



Lyme/MSIDS isn’t the only topic of media bias.  The only way things are going to change is if we all play an active role and hold scientists and journalists accountable.  I’ve often pointed out the obvious bias in the handling of Zika vs the handling of Lyme/MSIDS.  While research for Lyme boasts 230 peer-reviewed studies showing borrelia persistence, Zika has 1 autopsy.

For a great article explaining the Lyme War

TheCaseforthePersistenceofLymeDiseaseAfterAntibioticTherapy  The truth is that over 50% of the IDSA’s guidelines are based on “expert opinion” rather than “evidence-based medicine” as their publication suggests. A further 31% of the IDSA guidelines are based on observational studies. Only a meagre 29% of the IDSA Guidelines fit into “evidence-based medicine”.(22,23,24,25,27) Importantly, the IDSA’s own research supports these very findings.(22)

Please understand for those of you just tuning in – THIS IS A WAR of epic proportions.

The reason we find ourselves here even 40 years after Lyme was “officially” discovered is due to money, power, and collusion at the highest level of government. The government holds the patents on Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb), Lyme testing, the Lyme vaccine, and has been controlling the narrative for decades, even taking specific bands out of the test that shows infection due to their patent on the Lyme vaccine. patent on OspA (outer surface protein) of Borrelia Burgdorferi (Bb). patent on Lyme test based on OspA (outer surface protein) which causes the same disease it was meant to prevent which is the real reason it was yanked from the market. Gov. patent on Lyme Vaccine A lengthy expose on all shenanigans for the stout of heart.

Please, don’t allow yourself to be fooled. The powers that be have been controlling research and the narrative on Tick borne illness from the start. Nothing about this is new. It’s as old as the hills. In fact, one researcher has filed an anti-trust law-suit due to government suppression of a more accurate and cheaper Lyme test:
This same researcher and others have also complained of how the CDC is controlling the research being done: This article explains how they do it:

Another lawsuit filed by patients is in the works as well:

Time for the media to stop peddling to biased stakeholders.  This will only happen if we call them out and stop buying their wares.

Bitter Pill to Swallow for C. diff  by Dr. Mercola, December 11, 2017

Poop Pills Can Combat Deadly Infections

poop pills

Story at-a-glance

  • An answer to a serious infection called Clostridium difficile (C. diff.) infection comes from a relatively new therapy called fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT)
  • C. diff., a common bacterium in hospitals, is a leading cause of diarrhea in health care today, with older people on medication at greatest risk, and often occurs soon after administration of antibiotics
  • FMT is when feces are transferred from a healthy donor to the gastrointestinal tract of a C. diff-infected patient to reintroduce healthy bacteria into their gut, but the pill form offers a noninvasive alternative
  • In terms of patient comfort, fewer trial subjects who were given the FMT capsule described the experience as “unpleasant” compared to receiving FMT through the colonoscopy route
  • Your gut health, as well as your overall health, are closely interconnected, so “feeding” your microbiome, as well as resisting antibiotics as much as possible, will optimize your microbiome

While it would seem that a fecal transplant in capsule form would be a somewhat bitter pill to swallow, scientists conducting a randomized clinical trial1 found this mode of transportation, in a matter of speaking, for fecal therapy was easier and just as effective for treating patients infected with the serious and dreaded Clostridium difficile infection (RCDI), or simply “C. diff.,” as receiving a fecal transplant via enema or colonoscopy, also known as fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT).

Further, FMT in pill form has the capacity to improve patients’ quality of life, as it caused fewer adverse events.2 For those who may be unaware of this protocol, fecal transplants are now not just common, but according to one study, so successful that the first trial was stopped early because the researchers deemed it unethical to withhold the treatment from patients (as some typically are given alternative therapies). As noted by NPR:

“That’s because C. diff. is kind of a special case. It’s a very invasive microbe that has repeatedly been assaulted by antibiotics which have caused a collapse in other microbes. So it’s an easy environment for microbes in a donor stool to invade.”3

C. Diff.:  Common Bacterium in Hospital Environments

One of the problems with C. difficile is that it’s one of the most common health care-associated infections and one of the foremost reasons hospital patients develop debilitating, recurrent diarrhea that’s hard to get a handle on, medically. It’s especially rampant among older individuals on antibiotics for other conditions. CIDRAP states:

“(C. diff.) can also be difficult to completely cure. As a result, recurrent infections have become a growing challenge. At least 20 percent of patients who get an initial CDI have a recurrent infection within eight weeks, with the risk of RCDI being as high as 50 percent to 60 percent after three or more infections.”4

Researchers at Brown University, where one program focuses on digestive microbes such as bacteria, fungi and viruses (human microbiomes), say C. diff. became hard to manage when antibiotics prescribed for other conditions disturbed what may have been perfectly functioning, benign gut organisms. By no means a trifling infection, Newsweek pulls no punches as it calls C. diff. both “nasty” and “deadly.”

Antibiotics may be the usual treatment in hospitals, but they only contribute to the problem by effectively wiping out beneficial bacteria in patients’ collective microbiome that might keep C. diff. in check, CIDRAP observes. In essence, FMT can be explained as feces being transferred from one healthy donor to the gastrointestinal tract of a C. diff. infected patient. The purpose is to “reintroduce healthy bacteria into the gut (as) a non-antibiotic therapy that’s shown promise in clinical studies.”5

What Happens When Your Gut Biome Becomes This Compromised?

C. diff. infection impacts half a million people in the U.S. every year. Further, it’s fatal for 15,000 of them, also every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).6 Still, there have been patients who found the prospect of fecal transplant therapy, even through surgical means, to be just too daunting. In fact, efforts have actually been made to extract the beneficial bacteria from the fecal matter to make the idea of swallowing it more palatable, but the effort failed.

Far from being a brand-new, innovative idea, using poop to fight the effects of C. diff. and other problems in patients has been around since at least the late 1950s. Different names, besides FMT, have included fecal biotherapy and fecal flora reconstitution. One study explains the science behind it:

“FMT involves reconstituting the normal intestinal microflora in a diseased person by infusion (via nasogastric tube, enema or colonoscopy) of a liquid suspension of stool from a healthy donor. The first report of the use of FMT (for a patient with non-CDI pseudomembranous colitis) was published in 1958. Since then, there has been mounting evidence supporting its use in recurrent CDI.”7

Your Microbiome Can Make or Break Your Health

How your microbiome works is still being scrutinized by scientists, especially in the way it can make or break your overall health. It’s clear that certain foods are considered positive for “feeding” your microbiome. Foods containing fiber are at the top of the list as they release nutrients for your gut lining. The connection between what you eat and how healthy your gut is are closely interconnected, so consider adding more fiber, especially if you aren’t getting the 50 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories you eat that I recommend.

One way fiber benefits your health is by providing beneficial bacteria in your gut with the materials needed to thrive. These beneficial bacteriaassist with digestion and absorption of your food, and play a significant role in your immune function.

One of the best ways to regain optimal balance in your gut is by eating fermented foods. Besides kimchi and other fermented vegetables, which you can make at home very easily, there are also fermented beverages such as kefir and yogurt, all providing trillions of beneficial bacteria — far more than you can get from a probiotics supplement.

Poop Pills, a Colonoscopy or the Other Alternatives?

It’s been a tough call for scientists and physicians alike, trying to determine which is worse: C. diff., antibiotics, colonoscopies (the most successful in terms of introducing fecal matter into patients) or the new poop pill-popping protocol. C. diff. being what it is comes with serious, life-altering symptoms, which Medline Plus8 says can include:

Watery diarrhea multiple times daily Stomach cramps Fever
Dehydration Nausea Abdominal pain and tenderness

A colonoscopy is an example of an invasive procedure, but there’s also the fact that patients typically undergo mild sedation, which introduces another risk because their breathing may become too slow. Further, there’s the chance that in the course of the procedure, the patient’s intestinal wall could be punctured, which could introduce life-threatening infections. Time observed:

“The benefits of swallowing a capsule are also undeniable compared to swallowing — or trying to swallow — a feeding tube through which a slurry of fecal matter is flowing through. (That’s the way that doctors testing fecal transplants originally administered their doses.) That carries the risk of aspirating some of the fecal slurry into the lungs — not to mention the unpleasantness of introducing feces to the mouth area and accidentally breathing it in.”9

The Poop-in-a-Capsule Trial

Dina Kao, a gastroenterologist at the University of Alberta in Canada, used the pills described by Time10 as “fecal matter manufactured into a capsule” for 116 patients in the trial. Compared to a colonoscopy, both methods showed a 90 percent reduction in C. diff. relapses. All 116 study subjects had suffered a minimum of three bouts of C. diff. and were randomly assigned a poop swap via either the capsule or colonoscopy.

It must have been an exercise in “mind over matter” for the patients who were required to swallow down 40 capsules in one sitting, which took an average of a half-hour to an hour. The reduction in C. diff. relapse was determined after 90 percent of the patients remained C. diff.-free after 12 weeks. Preeti Malani, professor of medicine at the University of Michigan, who wrote an editorial to go with the study, noted:

“Based on this study, I think it would be very reasonable to think about fecal transplant capsules as your preferred approach. If it were myself or a family member, I think avoiding colonoscopy would be helpful.”

Still, Melani and other researchers believe more studies are needed, not only to confirm the results found in Kao’s study, but also to get a better understanding of how fecal transplant works.

Kao herself says she plans to study all the components of fecal transplants to get a clearer picture of what exactly helps control C. diff. Besides C. diff., microbe transplanting via a capsule is also a therapy currently used for obesity, diabetes, colitis and Crohn’s disease. It’s a way gut bacteria can be positively linked to lowering the risks of such disorders and conditions as obesity, allergies, asthma and even some mental illnesses.

A Protocol Still Unapproved by Government Agencies

While fecal transplantation may at first glance come across as quackery of the highest degree, once you understand the process, it’s clear it’s a successful way to swap bad bacteria for good.

Kao, whose first reaction upon the successful trial, quipped, “It’s absolutely insane. We just don’t see (this) kind of efficacy with drugs,”11 added that she believes the favorable outcome of the fecal transplant pills will “transform” the way conventional medicine at large thinks about the unconventional therapy. She listed several of the benefits over the current protocols of antibiotics or surgery. Poop pills are:

  • Noninvasive
  • Less expensive
  • Free of the risks associated with sedation
  • Can be done in a doctor’s office

As it stands, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t yet given the proverbial green light to fecal transplants.It does, however, permit doctors to perform the therapy for patients not currently responding favorably to other forms of remediation, but only as long as patients understand that the poop pill is still being scrutinized as a viable treatment.

In addition, CIDRAP notes that in March 2016, the FDA proposed regulations that would further restrict use of FMT by requiring that either the patient recipient or the treating clinician personally know the donor — a restriction that, as yet, is not finalized.

Interestingly, among patients who’ve been asked what they thought of the idea of swallowing poop pills, most responded that after all was said and done, it wasn’t too bad. Newsweek observes that two-thirds of the 57 patients who got the pills described the experience as “not at all unpleasant,” while 44 percent of the 59 patients who underwent FMT via a colonoscopy were not as positive.

Perhaps when the patients remembered the alternative — that to them, poop pills were a hero of sorts due to their ability to stop the unstoppable on the other end — the therapy could only be seen in a positive light. As Kao concluded, “We still don’t understand what’s going on, and in these other conditions it’s not as clear-cut that the disturbance in the bacterial composition is the cause. Stool is such a complex mixture.”12

– Sources and References



Lyme/MSIDS patients use antimicrobials and have to be concerned with gut health.  In fact, antibiotic resistance and adverse events are often cited by some physicians as to why they shouldn’t be used or only in extremely limited amounts.  FMT is a clear and concise answer for this potential problem, and I pray people are taking note.  

Any treatment demands a risk/benefit assessment and until the denialists understand the severity/complexity of Lyme/MSIDS, patients will be swimming against the current and having to fight for proper/effective treatment which is much more than 21 days of doxy.  Doxy, for instance, will not touch numerous coinfections and has been found to throw the spirochete into the non-cell wall form to rear its ugly head later.

Ahern – Flawed Lyme Policies, Diagnostics, and Treatment

The flawed science behind the current global Lyme policies, diagnostics and treatment

Written by

The flawed science behind the current global Lyme policies, diagnostics and treatment

Holly Ahern is a professor of microbiology as well as the mother of a child that was severely affected by Lyme Disease. Because of this personal experience and her professional background and training, she was able to dissect the flaws in scientific reasoning that underlie decades of wrong policies, invalid diagnostics and treatment that fail too many. An interview with a mother who went deep into the (anti)scientific Rabbit Hole of the Lyme science.


Can you introduce yourself and share how did you got personally involved with Lyme disease? 

I am a professor of microbiology at SUNY Adirondack, which is a small State University of New York college located at the southern end of a 6.1 million acre state forest preserve known as the Adirondack Park. Prior to 2009, my program of undergraduate research focused mostly on environmental microbiology with an emphasis on small lake ecosystems, of which we have many here in the Adirondack region.

In 2009, my youngest daughter was a freshman in college and excelling both academically and athletically. In her first year, she had broken college records in her sport (swimming) and had just qualified as All-American in her first NCAA Nationals. Within a month of those achievements, she called to say she wasn’t feeling well and wanted to come home for the weekend. She went to bed that night, and didn’t get up again to fully return to her life for almost a year.

It was early spring when she got sick. There were no ticks to be seen, she did not have any kind of rash anywhere, and her physician never considered that her illness could be a tick-borne disease. She was referred to a rheumatologist (because she had profound joint and muscle pain), a cardiologist (because she had tachycardia and pain in her chest), and a neurologist (because she was having debilitating headaches, was constantly dizzy and had pain, tingling and on several occasions complete numbness and paralysis of her right arm and leg). After several rounds of blood tests, a CT scan, and a couple of MRI’s, there was still no diagnosis.

Then, in May, my husband attended a presentation at the school where he works given by one of his colleagues. The topic was Lyme disease, and after listening to the presentation and talking further with the presenter, he felt that our daughter’s condition could be related to Lyme disease.

We requested a blood test for Lyme disease, to which her physician reluctantly acquiesced. We were all surprised when it came back positive, and I remember at the time how relieved we all felt because at last, there was a diagnosis. Little did we know…

When the prescribed oral antibiotic was completed and she immediately relapsed, I realized that what I — as a microbiologist — thought I knew about this disease from textbooks and the CDC was wrong. So I started reading the scientific literature, and quickly realized that the dominant medical view of Lyme disease being a bacterial infection that was “hard to catch and easy to cure” was profoundly wrong, that the bacteria and the disease symptoms it caused were not like other bacterial illnesses, and that the CDC-recommended approach to diagnosis and treatment of this disease lagged well behind the science.

My struggles to pull my daughter out from under the weight of the chronic disease that had consumed her, made me realize that her experience mirrored that of hundreds of thousands of other people who were also being gaslighted by their physicians and marginalized by public health agencies. As my daughter’s condition improved, my attention turned first to educating the public about the dangers of ticks and the diseases they carry, followed by governmental advocacy to change the outdated and harmful health care policies of the CDC.

Along the way, I co-founded a 501-c-3 organization called Lyme Action Network, and now also serve as scientific advisor for two other organizations; Project Lyme which focuses on educating the public about ticks and tick-borne disease, and for the Focus On Lyme Foundation, which is raising funds for research toward better diagnostic tests and treatment for tick-borne diseases.

Focus On Lyme is also working to address one of the most significant roadblocks to scientific research on tick-borne diseases in humans, which is the lack of a readily accessible, no strings attached, biorepository of well-characterized human blood samples.

I (and many others) have come to realize that the path forward to accurate diagnostic tests and effective treatments will have to come from those who are most affected by the disease, through patient-centered (and often funded) projects such as this, because there is little to no leadership coming from governmental agencies on this issue.

You recently gave a testimony at the senate commission hearing of the State of New York and you gave a lecture at the Focus On Lyme 2017 conference about the science backing up Lyme and co-infections. What have you discovered?  Can you summarize your strong criticism of the mainstream assumptions surrounding Lyme in a way that everybody can understand?

Over the past 5 years, I believe it is safe to say I have read most if not all of the published science on borreliosis (the broad name for diseases caused by bacteria in the Borrelia genus).

It is very important for people to realize that when they hear medical or public health professionals proclaim that the medical guidelines dictating the practice of medicine and insurance reimbursement for Lyme disease are based on the best available science, such assertions are rhetorical hyperbole and little else.

The mainstream approach to medical practice for Lyme disease is currently guided by a relatively small number of clinical studies which are overly focused on one feature of this very protean disease – the appearance of a “bulls-eye” rash after a tick bite.

From 1977-1980, a team at Yale University headed by Alan Steere “discovered” and then defined a new disease, which he initially called Lyme arthritis. Steere noted in his early publications that approximately 25% of the people in his study cohorts had a very unique clinical feature – a rash called an erythema migrans or EM which resembles a bulls-eye – that sometimes accompanied other non-specific but debilitating symptoms (joint/muscle pain, headaches, peripheral nerve pain and sensations, fatigue).

As a newly minted “Epidemiology Fellow” of the CDC, he had been trained to look for clinical signs associated with disease symptoms, which could be “objectively” observed by a physician without relying on “subjective” reports by patients about what aches and pains they might be having. The unusual skin rash was just such a perfect, pathognomonic, feature.

Having noted and associated this unique rash with patients showing a similar cluster of subjective symptoms, his next studies set out to investigate the association of the rash with the disease. Steere’s subsequent studies were DESIGNED to CONFIRM what he wanted to be true – that the EM was a clinical sign of this new disease – as opposed to designing studies to impartially study the occurrence of the rash in people with the cluster of symptoms typical of people with Lyme disease. This is an example of a notable type of research bias, referred to as confirmation bias.

Steere also overemphasized the significance of joint swelling as a clinical sign of “Lyme arthritis,” because he was, after all, a rheumatologist, and therefore pain in a joint that was swollen could be taken as a “sign” of a disease process. Joint pain without obvious swelling was considered a nonspecific symptom that did not point to anything in particular.

The 1980s came along and New York decided that maybe they should look into this “new” disease since Long Island shares a body of water with Connecticut. SUNY Stony Brook on Long Island had a research team looking at ticks and diseases, so in 1982, the NYS Department of Health launched a study to find out just how many cases of this new disease there were in New York, to decide if the State should consider whether a public health response was needed.

The design of this study was for the Department of Health to alert New York State health care providers, through newsletter publications and also by sending letters to 300 primary care physicians, about the new disease and provide them with specific and detailed information and pictures about what to look for FIRST — a unique rash shaped like a perfect bulls-eye.

The letters directed health care providers to fill out a form for each patient seeking medical care for (in order of emphasis): a rash with a bulls-eye appearance; aseptic meningitis; facial paralysis (Bell’s Palsy); or large joint arthritis with swelling.

The inherent bias in the design of this research is obvious. The study directed a naïve population to be on the lookout for a new disease hallmarked by a specific type of rash shaped like a bulls-eye.

So what do you think got noticed by the physicians who participated in this study – the patients walking in the door with a bulls-eye rash, or the ones complaining about fatigue or headaches or pain in their non-swollen joints?

Before this investigation of the “Epidemiological Features of Lyme Disease in New York, the rate of association between an EM rash and Lyme disease symptoms ranged from 25-40%, as gleaned from a review of the published research from this period. In the New York study, 77% of the case reports were about people who exhibited an EM rash.

The perceived authority of this one study, published 33 years ago in 1984, serves as the ANCHOR for the misconception currently advanced by the CDC and other public health agencies, that 70-80% of the people who get Lyme disease will show a bulls-eye rash as a clear clinical sign.

Even though this assertion has been REPEATEDLY and REPRODUCIBLY shown to be false (with the true rate of association between and a bulls-eye shaped rash and a diagnosis of Lyme disease being only 10-40%), anchor bias perpetuates the myth that most people get an EM rash as a sign of “early” Lyme disease.

The bad news for patients is that since at least the late 1990s, the medical guidelines for diagnosing and treating Lyme disease patients have been based on clinical trials heavily influenced by this strong and pervasive anchor bias. Every research study that investigated the clinical course of Lyme disease in humans since the late 1970, used the appearance of a bull’s-eye rash as the main criteria for either inclusion in the study, or as an end point of the study.

Which means that all of the clinical research done to date has EXCLUDED from study 60-90% of people who actually have Lyme disease.

And even worse – a search of the NIH-funded clinical trials currently in the pipeline for Lyme disease returns with 20 studies currently enrolling or inviting participants. The “Inclusion Criteria” (to be eligible as a participant in the study) for these studies requires that a person must either meet the CDC case definition for Lyme disease, or meet the criteria set forth in the clinical practice guidelines developed by the Infectious Diseases Society of America, which are in practice one and the same. Briefly, those criteria are 1) the bulls-eye rash; and/or 2) “laboratory evidence” of infection.

“Laboratory evidence” is another way of saying “diagnostic test.” Diagnostic tests that would serve as laboratory evidence of an infectious disease like Lyme disease, either show direct evidence of infection with the bacteria causing the disease (such as growing the bacteria in culture or detecting their DNA or proteins in a blood sample), or indirectly demonstrate a past or present infection by measuring antibodies specific for the disease-causing agent in a person’s blood.

This latter method, called serology, is currently the ONLY type of laboratory testing recommended by the CDC for diagnosing a case of Lyme disease – even though serology has been REPEATEDLY and REPRODUCIBLY shown to be very inaccurate with a high rate of false negative tests (serology is falsely negative in 1 out of every 2 tests). A research paper just published takes it one step further and shows that serology is next to useless in persons who received antibiotic treatment before the test was done.

Ironically, a quote from the CDC website states: “Before CDC will recommend new tests, their performance must be demonstrated to be equal to or better than the results of the existing procedure, and they must be FDA approved.”

The explicit use of the term “FDA approved” by the CDC is interesting, because currently there are NO FDA APPROVED tests for Lyme disease, and that INCLUDES the serological tests the CDC recommends. Serology has been CLEARED by the FDA for marketing as a medical device, based on it being “substantially equivalent” to something already being marketed, which is, in essence serology itself, since serology was and is the only test in routine use across the globe.

FDA APPROVAL requires more than just a comparison to the existing standard, it requires additional evidence of the test’s safety and effectiveness. Serology, compared only to itself, has never actually gone through the FDA approval process.

This and other rhetorical twists of the existing science by the CDC has severely limited the use of any other test that could serve as “laboratory evidence” of Lyme disease, particularly ones which rely on the direct observation (such as culture or microscopic examination) or detection of biomolecules (such as DNA or RNA). Which is illogical, because direct detection of the microbe or molecules from it should yield no false positives, and therefore a person showing this type of laboratory evidence could be correctly diagnosed and treated.

What all this means is that we actually know next to nothing about the true nature of disease in persons infected with Borrelia or tick-borne coinfections, in the majority of persons who actually have Lyme disease. And if the status quo is maintained, we won’t be learning anything new from NIH-funded research on Lyme disease for the next 20 years.

If it was up to you to create an action plan for Lyme disease, what would you do? 

My action plan would start by making Lyme disease a national (and international) research priority, to the same extent that AIDS was prioritized in the 1980s. Given that there are annually more than 6 times the number of cases of Lyme disease as there are HIV/AIDS, with Lyme disease patients often experiencing a higher level of disability, this elevation in status is clearly warranted.

There are three areas related to tick-borne diseases that desperately need more research: diagnostics, treatment, and prevention. I would argue that diagnostics should be the first priority, because at this moment we are overly reliant on 40+ year old tests that are supposed to detect antibodies against a bacterium that can successfully “hide” from and even alter how and what types of antibodies are produced during an immune response to infection. There is currently no real way to differentiate between past or recent exposure to Borrelia in these tests, and no way to track the efficacy of treatments.

Once we have a way to directly detect infection – and I believe we are close to achieving that goal with several methods, including professor Laane’s work on a simple, direct method to detect the Borrelia with microscopy, direct detection of antigensDNA sequencing, or nucleic acids from all tick-borne microbes – then it would be possible to reassess the existing dogma about the human course of this disease through well-designed, unbiased, hypothesis-driven research. Eva Sapi as another scientist using advanced microscopic methods for detection. This is the article describing her work on skin tissues.

The foundational research already exists – on bacteria grown in culture, and in animal models ranging from mice to dogs to non-human primates. Some of that research (new antibiotic dosing strategies, existing drugs with superior efficacy over the antibiotics currently medical guidelines recommend) is ready to advance to human clinical trials and only awaits funding.

Historically, research on preventing Lyme disease in humans has focused on vaccines and most recently, on a pre-exposure prophylactic (PrEP) that would render Borrelia burgdorferi incapable of causing an infection. The problem with this singular approach is that someone who is vaccinated or receives PrEP would NOT be protected against infection by other tick-borne microbes (such as other species of Borrelia, or Babesia, Bartonella, or Anaplasma) that also cause human diseases.

Existing research shows potential for a vaccine to prevent ticks from staying attached or transmitting microbes, and that type of vaccine deserves significantly more research attention, because it would reduce the human risk of acquiring any tick-borne disease, not just Lyme disease.

I would also argue that additional research is warranted to investigate other potential routes of transmission for the microbes labelled “tick-borne.” In the United States, CDC disease surveillance data reveals that Lyme disease is not just the “fastest growing vector borne disease,” it is the SECOND MOST COMMON infectious disease period, with only sexually-transmitted chlamydia causing more cases of disease per year. Gonorrhea comes in third.

Since there is scientific evidence of congenital transmission of Borrelia and research suggesting that sexual transmission occurs as well, it seems likely that Lyme disease is not all that “hard to catch” after all.

Professor Holly Ahern

Interviewer: Huib Kraaijeveld

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