430 – Lyme & Alzheimer’s
Alan MacDonald, M.D., is a pathologist affiliated with St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center in Smithtown, New York. His current research is concentrated on developing what he refers to as a new biology for Lyme disease, including the use of special DNA probes to detect Borrelia DNA in spinal fluid and in tissue sections from Alzheimer autopsy tissues.
Dr. Alan MacDonald: “Using the syphilis model, I began to study some autopsied brains, and found that I was able to identify spirochetes in autopsied brain tissue in the hippocampus, which is one of the areas that Alzheimer’s disease tends to target in every patient. I was able to grow spirochetes from autopsied Alzheimer’s brain tissue, and stain the spirochetes with special monochromal antibodies, through the techniques I learned and developed through the study of stillborn babies with Lyme disease. And those two positive results made me think even more strongly that some Alzheimer’s might be like syphilis, a late manifestation of the bacterial infection in the brain, not to say that all Alzheimer’s disease is related to Lyme disease, but some.
One of Dr. MacDonald’s most exciting research results comes from a uniquely well-documented case of one man who passed away from Alzheimer’s disease, Paul Christensen, and was autopsied at Stony Brook in Long Island. A firefighter, Christensen was diagnosed with Lyme disease when the Borrelia bacteria was found in his spinal fluid. He was treated for a short time by doctors at Stony Brook University Hospital and then released. However, his diagnosis of Lyme was followed by an eight year period of mental deterioration, and he ultimately died from Alzheimer’s disease.
Christensen’s wife, in an effort to support and encourage Dr. MacDonald to help educate the medical community about the connection between Lyme and Alzheimer’s disease, contacted him and allowed him access to study Christensen’s brain tissue for clues about this connection. Dr. MacDonald was “able to show that those areas of Alzheimer-type injury in the brain also lit up for spirochetal DNA, with special florescent dye attached to the DNA probe.”
Through his work in the thoroughly researched, well-evaluated Christensen case, which he confirms has been one of the most exciting cases he has worked on, Dr. MacDonald learned that using DNA probes allowed him another point of reference in order to show the spirochetal DNA in the brain tissue, and therefore, “make the connection between Lyme disease and Alzheimer’s in some patients,” he says.
The Canadian Lyme foundation has a number of links to my work, and also has published the case of Paul Christensen on their website: http://www.canlyme.com