Cancer as a Parasitic Disease by Jeffrey Dach MD
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Highlights from the 14th Annual International Integrative Oncology Conference April 16th, 2016. I was intrigued by a presentation of five cases of Glioblastoma Multiforme treated over ten years in a clinic in Bellevue, Washington. All five brain tumor biopsy samples stained positive for the spirochete parasite, Borrelia, the organism found in Lyme disease.(1) The patient's tumors regressed upon treatment for parasitic disease, and progressed when treatments were halted.
Borrelia in Mantle Cell Lymphoma
This information was new to me, so I wondered if Borrelia had been associated with any other types of cancer. A quick literature search answered the question. Dr Claudia Schöllkopf reported in Blood 2008 that patients who tested positive for Borrella antibodies had a 4 times higher risk of Mantle Cell lymphoma. (2) Four years previously, in 2004, Borrelia organisms had been identified in two cases of nodal lymphoma. (3)
Cancer as a Parasitic Disease is an Old Idea
Cancer as a form of parasitic disease is actually an old idea originally proposed by early microbiologists. They considered the idea self-evident from their microscopic observations of cancer cells.
William Russell Pathologist -- 1890
On December 3, 1890 the Scottish pathologist William Russell reported a "cancer microbe" seen under his microscope inside cancer cells. His report in the Dec 18, 1890 British Medical Journal included detailed drawings describing parasitic spores within cancer cells.(24) Over the next 120 years, Dr Russell's hypothesis that cancer is a parasitic disease was picked up and championed by a long list of impressive scientists. However all were labeled as medical heretics and lived out their careers in obscurity.
Parasitic Disease in Animals
Parasitic protozoans may invade and hijack cell pathways to enhance survival. In doing so, they may resemble cancer cells. One such example is a tick borne parasitic infection called Theileria annulata, affecting South African cattle. The invading parasite transforms the animal's lymphocytes into lymphoma cells demonstrating all the hallmarks of cancer. (4) Because of the similarity with cancer, this model has been extensively studied, hoping for clues leading to an understanding of cancer biology. (4-9)
Spirochete Parasite Transmitted by Ticks -- Resembles Lymphoma
With an uncanny resemblance to the Borellia Lyme parasite in humans, Theileria is an intracellular parasites transmitted by ticks. One species, T. parva, is highly pathogenic for cattle and causes fatal lymphoproliferative disease known as East Coast fever. "Infected cells acquire a metastatic, cancer-like phenotype and are the primary cause of pathology"(9). The parasite resides in the cell cytoplasm where it inhibits host-cell apoptosis pathways to ensure self-survival. The parasites synchronize their replication with that of the host cell so that daughter cells are also infected. The parasite speeds up cell replication, benefiting its own survival. Cancer cells share many of these same features, such as inhibition of apoptosis (immortalization) and increased speed of replication. The disease is reversible with anti-parasitic drug treatment with buparvaquone. (8)
Crytosporidium Mouse Model of Colon Cancer