Skip to comments.Australians Win Nobel For Linking Bug To Ulcers
Posted on 10/03/2005 1:24:28 PM PDT by blam
Australians win Nobel for linking bug to ulcers
13:56 03 October 2005
NewScientist.com news service
Two Australians have won the 2005 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for establishing that bacteria cause stomach ulcers, it was announced on Monday.
Working at the Royal Perth Hospital, Barry Marshall and Robin Warren established beyond all doubt in the 1980s that Helicobacter pylori causes stomach ulcers by infecting and aggravating the gut lining.
Moreover, they showed that ulcers could be cured altogether by killing the bacteria with antibiotics. Hitherto, ulcers had been considered uncurable. Instead, patients' symptoms were treated with a lifetime of drugs to reduce the acidity of the gut.
The pairs claims provoked a fierce backlash from the medical establishment, which held to the dogma that ulcers were brought on by stress and lifestyle, and could not be cured. By revealing a simple cure, the researchers also threatened to destroy huge and lucrative global markets for the existing anti-ulcer drugs, which simply eased symptoms.
Abuse and ridicule
At conferences, the two scientists were subjected to abuse and ridicule. There was such a prejudice against the idea that bacteria could grow in the acidity of the stomach, says David Kelly, a senior microbiologist at the University of Sheffield, UK.
The controversy is euphemistically alluded to in the Nobel citation, which credits the pair with tenacity and a prepared mind [to challenge] prevailing dogmas.
Warren, a pathologist from Perth, first noticed in 1982 that strange, curved bacteria frequently colonised the lower part of the stomach in biopsies from patients with ulcers, and that the bugs always lived close to sites of inflammation.
Marshall, a young clinical fellow, became interested in Warrens findings and together they initiated a crucial study of biopsies from 100 patients. From these, Marshall eventually learned how to grow the bacteria in the lab, and named the species Helicobacter pylori.
They established that the organism was almost always present in patients with gastric inflammation, duodenal ulcers or gastric ulcers.
Next, the pair proved that patients could be cured, but only by eradicating the bacteria with antibiotics. Notably, Marshall proved in 1985 that the bacteria caused gastric inflammation by infecting himself, then curing his condition with antibiotics.
This extraordinary act demonstrated outstanding dedication and commitment to his research, says Bob May, president of the UK Royal Society.
Kelly believes that Marshall performed his heroic experiment out of sheer frustration at the failure of other doctors to accept his results.
Since their discovery, it has been accepted beyond all dispute that H. pylori causes more than 90% of duodenal ulcers and 80% of gastric ulcers.
Half of all humans carry the bugs in their stomachs for life, but on average only 10 to 15% of those infected develop gastric inflammation or ulcers. In some individuals, infections can lead to stomach cancer.
Although the idea that bacteria cause chronic inflammatory disease was seen as heresy back in the 1980s, there is now increasing evidence that bacteria might be to blame for other conditions, such as Crohns disease, rheumatoid arthritis and even the clogging of arteries that leads to coronary heart disease.
Marshall, who has set up his own Helicobacter pylori Research Laboratory in Perth, affiliated with the University of Western Australia, posted a notice on his website saying: Thank you to everyone. At the moment I am overwhelmed with phone calls and congratulations pouring in from all over the world.
This is good news to me. Hope someone follows through pretty soon to cure those other things. I take antibiotics every day for Crohn's. I'd love to eliminate it altogether, though keeping it in check is good!
Thank you to these great scientists for finding the cure to ulcer disease. How many people suffered through all the centuries with this painful, deadly malady? And how many were told, "it's all in your head"?
Perhaps they are right about the auto-immune diseases being set off by a bacteria in a prepared environment. That would be an astonishing breakthrough and would help so many sufferers!
Very worthy prize winners. An excellent choice in my mind.
(Note the Nobel prize in Medicine is handed out by the Swedish Nobel foundation - unlike the Peace prize which is handled by the Norwegian Parliament, just so you know!)
Ancient ancestors had tummy bug too
22:00 04 November 2002
NewScientist.com news service
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences The stomach-infesting bacterium Helicobacter pylori has been living in humans for at least 11,000 years - much longer than previously thought, say US researchers.
A team at New York University analysed bacterial DNA present in stomach biopsies taken from two groups of Venezuelan volunteers of different ethnic origin. The first was an urban group of European or mixed ancestry. The second was an Amazonian group from an isolated population of indigenous Amerindians.
The researchers found H. pylori present in all the samples. But those in the urban group had a Western European genetic variation, whilst those in the Amazonian group had an East Asian strain.
This provides strong evidence that the bacterium was present in the emigrating population of Asians believed to have crossed the Bering Strait 11,000 years ago to colonise the Americas. The bug would then have been transmitted down through the generations in the indigenous population.
"H. pylori has been living in the human gut for a minimum of 11,000 years, but probably far longer," says Martin Blaser, professor of microbiology, who led the research.
Previously, it was believed that the Europeans introduced H. pylori to the Americas at the time of Columbus in the 15th Century. There is also evidence from Egyptian mummies that H pylori infected people about 1800 years ago.
The bacterium is associated with the development of peptic ulcers and gastric cancer, raising the question of how a damaging bug has persisted in humans for so long.
But Blaser told New Scientist: "More than 90 per cent of people with H. pylori never get ulcers or stomach cancer and anyway these diseases only occur after reproductive age, so they do not effect natural selection."
He believes his work suggests H. pylori infection may even have some beneficial effects.
"Over the last century as people have become cleaner and antibiotics have become widespread, the reduction in H. pylori has led to an increase in diarrhoeal diseases and oesophageal cancer," he says. "So it is possible that H. pylori is good for the oesophagus and bad for the stomach."
Journal reference: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (DOI: 10.1073/pnas.242574599)
Thanks. I didn't know that...it makes some things clear.
and too think only a few years ago...they were called...
tin foil heads...
I was just diagnosed with this H Pylori baceria, my meds lasted 14 days and it is gone now.
Cool! I've been taking mine for almost three years. The Crohn's is "in remission", but not gone.
Years ago the doctor insisted I eat baby food, drink half and half and keep away from beer. Because of another bleeding ulcer a couple of years ago I went into the hospital again. This time a new doctor discovered the problem was due to bacteria. He gave me some medication . I could tell this medication was solving my problem almost immediately. No more nervous stomach. No more aches, burning, waking up at 2:00AM running to the fridge and drinking milk. No more problems period! I haven't had trouble with ulcers since. That occasional Gordon Birsch beer sure tastes good.
They treated my Dad with anti-biotics for his ulcers just a couple of years ago as a result of this discovery. But there was something about only being able to test for the bacteria once. Or only being able to treat it once and then not being able to have an accurate test again later. Something like that. Either way, they cured him.
I think it is often overlooked that it is possible to have stomach ulcers that are not caused by H. Pylori.
I mentioned to my surgeon about what I had read. He RELUCTANTLY gave me a perscription for two antibiotic's to be taken with half a bottle of Pepto Bismal.
In THREE days 16 years of suffering was over, my ulcer has never returned.
Barry Marshall has his own website. I wrote him what he had done for me and it was unbelivable he had not won a Nobel Prize. His remarkable discovery has affected millions of people.
His assistant E-mailed back indicating the Marshall has won so many awards that he is not really disturbed he never got a Nobel.
This time the Nobel Committee got it right.
Well deserved, an excellent choice. And what a God-send their work and discovery was for so many, many people.
You are correct.
I had an ulcer caused by overuse of Ibuproferin. Once I gave it up, and took Zantac for six months, everything straightened out.
But now I'm stuck with Tylenol.
'Cause they sure give ME ulcers!
Somebody has followed through. By coincidence, it's another researcher surnamed Marshall. Maybe not by coincidence, Trevor Marshall is from Australia too.
See these references on www.marshallprotocol.com: Chron's and Studies Citing Bacterial Cause for Th1 inflammation and Anyone being treated with MP for Crohns Disease?
This is not a 3-day cure. The bacteria are in an antibiotic resistant form, and isn't touched by penicillin type antibiotics, nor by other antibiotics in heavy doses.
It turns out there are a bunch of bacteria that can go into the resistant form, and once one bug gets a foothold, it's easier for the next. Depending on what tissue gets infected first, and the sequence of bugs, you get a different diagnosis. Since they are all using the same trick to hide, they can be uncovered and killed by a single approach. Note that this single approach does require several antibiotics. It's the uncloaking that is common to the different bugs.
I've been on the Marshall Protocol close to 18 months, and my sarcoid problems of the last 22 years are greatly reduced. The expected duration for a cure is 18 to 36 months.
It took the medical community over a decade to accept the simple, obvious, easily repeatable evidence of this. Now you can understand why cancer is being treated at half a trillion a year in expenditure.
As an aside, I have thought that the connection between lung cancer and smoking isn't so much the smoke, as it is the damage caused by more frequent bacterial and viral infections of the lung tissue. Some correlations could be exposed perhaps through surveys, but smoking is so PC ridden this even though will not be explored. Just as stomach cancer/ulcer connection had the punishing vice whiff of alcoholism.
Then there is the power of the dollar, or as Chris Rocks says, "There isnt no money in the cure, it's in the comeback. Nothing's been cured since Polio."
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