Every 67 seconds someone develops Alzheimer’s disease in America. Chances are that you or someone you love has the disease, and unfortunately there is no cure. And until recently the cause of Alzheimer’s disease was only speculated on.
Scientists have been baffled by this disease since it was first defined by Dr. Alois Alzheimer over 100 years ago. They agree that the dementia caused by Alzheimer’s disease is caused by the formation of plaques in the brain, but they disagree on what causes the plaques. Alzheimer himself suspected infection at the root of the disease, but the “pathogen” hypothesis never prevailed until now.
The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease has just released a report that microbes play an important role in the development of the disease if not the actual cause. In a joint research venture conducted by more than 30 scientists from around the world, microbes including Borrelia have been identified.
For those of us who have watched medical research around Lyme disease, this announcement comes as no surprise. Dr. Alan MacDonald, a trail-blazer in Lyme research has been publishing on the Lyme- Alzheimer’s connection for three decades.
MacDonald’s work was first published in 1988 in The Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences about a 71 year old man who apparently died of dementia. As the acting pathologist at Southampton Hospital, MacDonald was able to determine Alzheimer’s disease as the more probable cause of death, and to further test the brain. He was surprised to find Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme disease).
Curious, MacDonald eventually ordered ten brain specimens from Harvard’s “Brain Bank” at McLean’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. The stunning results were that 7 out of 10 brains were infected with Borrelia. In 2006 MacDonald’s work was published in The Alzheimer’s Association’s Alzheimer’s & Dementia, but the results were ignored by mainstream medicine.
In spite of his rejection MacDonald continued to search for answers. Over the next four years, MacDonald, along with Dr. Eva Sapi from New Haven’s School of Medicine, worked together to find out what mechanism was allowing Borrelia to evade treatment in the brain and in other parts of the body. They succeeded in 2010 when they discovered a clearly defined “biofilm” structure that enabled spirochetes to thrive in spite of antibiotics and the host immune system. These structures looked eerily similar to the plaques in Alzheimer brains.
MacDonald uses a unique probe of his own design that extracts DNA from brain cells to confirm the absence or presence of Borrelia. He found that the “Amyloid” plaques – previously considered “dead” areas of the brain – are actually alive with communities of bacteria.
In 2011, another MacDonald colleague, Dr. Judith Miklossy from the International Alzheimer Research Center in Switzerland published even more compelling results in The Journal of Neuroinflammation. Miklossy reported 90% of Alzheimer brains she tested to be infected with Borrelia. Miklossy agrees with MacDonald that the Alzheimer plaques originate with infections, especially Borrelia. The publication of this new report gives credence to the “pathogen” theory and will hopefully free up much needed research funding to find a cure for this deadly disease.
The “pathogen” theory advances compelling treatment approaches. Bacterial diseases can be cured with antibiotics, so why not Alzheimer’s disease? Perhaps, it is because the real culprit has been hiding all along.