No-no bacteria

Not bacteria Nanobacteria are supposedly exotic, slow-growing, pleomorphic, infectious, pathogenic, sub-micrometer-sized (50–500 nm) bacteria coated with hydroxyapatite. These anomalous characteristics, considered unprecedented for any microorganism known to date, have been refuted on many grounds. In experiments, nanobacteria are shown to be no more than organic-mineral complexes. And yet, despite the large body of evidence directly contradicting the claims for nanobacteria as living microorganisms, studies implicating NB as infectious agents of disease continue to be published.

A new paper In PLoS ONE provides further evdience for the non-living nature of these non-bacteria, but because it is impossible to prove a negative hypothesis (they don’t exist) and because some people like a good conspiracy theory, I doubt this will be the end of the nonobacteria saga.

Critical Evaluation of Gamma-Irradiated Serum Used as Feeder in the Culture and Demonstration of Putative Nanobacteria and Calcifying Nanoparticles. PLoS ONE 5(4): e10343. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0010343
The culture and demonstration of putative nanobacteria (NB) and calcifying nanoparticles (CNP) from human and animal tissues has relied primarily on the use of a culture supplement consisting of FBS that had been γ-irradiated at a dose of 30 kGy (γ-FBS). The use of γ-FBS is based on the assumption that this sterilized fluid has been rid entirely of any residual NB/CNP, while it continues to promote the slow growth in culture of NB/CNP from human/animal tissues. We show here that γ-irradiation (5–50 kGy) produces extensive dose-dependent serum protein breakdown as demonstrated through UV and visible light spectrophotometry, fluorometry, Fourier-transformed infrared spectroscopy, and gel electrophoresis. Yet, both γ-FBS and γ-irradiated human serum (γ-HS) produce NB/CNP in cell culture conditions that are morphologically and chemically indistinguishable from their normal serum counterparts. Contrary to earlier claims, γ-FBS does not enhance the formation of NB/CNP from several human body fluids (saliva, urine, ascites, and synovial fluid) tested. In the presence of additional precipitating ions, both γ-irradiated serum (FBS and HS) and γ-irradiated proteins (albumin and fetuin-A) retain the inherent dual NB inhibitory and seeding capabilities seen also with their untreated counterparts. By gel electrophoresis, the particles formed from both γ-FBS and γ-HS are seen to have assimilated into their scaffold the same smeared protein profiles found in the γ-irradiated sera. However, their protein compositions as identified by proteomics are virtually identical to those seen with particles formed from untreated serum. Moreover, particles derived from human fluids and cultured in the presence of γ-FBS contain proteins derived from both γ-FBS and the human fluid under investigation—a confusing and unprecedented scenario indicating that these particles harbor proteins from both the host tissue and the FBS used as feeder. Thus, the NB/CNP described in the literature clearly bear hybrid protein compositions belonging to different species. We conclude that there is no basis to justify the use of γ-FBS as a feeder for the growth and demonstration of NB/CNP or any NB-like particles in culture. Moreover, our results call into question the validity of the entire body of literature accumulated to date on NB and CNP.

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