PerspectiveHypothesis

Are noncommunicable diseases communicable?

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Science  17 Jan 2020:
Vol. 367, Issue 6475, pp. 250-251
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaz3834

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  • RE: Dormant microbes and 'non-communicable' diseases
    • Douglas Kell, Professor of Systems Biology, University of Liverpool

    The piece by Finlay and colleagues (Science 367, 250-1, 2020) on the role of microbes in supposedly non-communicable diseases was badged as a 'hypothesis'. However, the evidence for a major involvement of microbes (and their products) in supposedly non-communicable diseases is massive. Such organisms are normally missed because they are in a dormant, non-growing state, and do not form colonies on typical growth media. Just a few references (1-6) will suffice to give a starting point to this very large literature.

    Because such dormant microbes do not fulfil Koch's postulates, it has also long been recognised that the postulates must be modified to provide a 'molecular' form. This was done many years ago by Staney Falkow (7,8).

    1. Kell DB, Potgieter M, Pretorius E: Individuality, phenotypic differentiation, dormancy and ‘persistence’ in culturable bacterial systems: commonalities shared by environmental, laboratory, and clinical microbiology. F1000Research 2015, 4:179.
    2. Kell DB, Pretorius E: On the translocation of bacteria and their lipopolysaccharides between blood and peripheral locations in chronic, inflammatory diseases: the central roles of LPS and LPS-induced cell death Integr Biol 2015, 7:1339-1377.
    3. Kell DB, Kenny LC: A dormant microbial component in the development of pre-eclampsia. Front Med Obs Gynecol 2016, 3:60.
    4. Kell DB, Pretorius E: No effects without causes. The Iron Dysregulation and Dormant Mic...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.

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