A large number of the pathogens harbored in the body are grouped into communities called biofilms. Biofilms form when bacteria adhere to surfaces in aqueous environments and begin to excrete a slimy, glue-like substance that can anchor them to human tissue.Their matrix is made of polymers – substances composed of molecules with repeating structural units that are connected by chemical bonds.
The first bacterial colonists to adhere to a surface initially by inducing weak, short range bonds. At this point they are reversible. But if the colonists are not immediately separated from the surface, they can anchor themselves more permanently using cell adhesion molecules, which are proteins on their surfaces that bind other cells in a process called cell adhesion.
These initial bacterial colonies facilitate the arrival of other pathogens by providing more diverse adhesion sites. They also begin to build the matrix that holds the biofilm together. If there are species that are unable to attach to a surface on their own, they are often able to anchor themselves to the matrix or directly to earlier colonists.
Multiple studies have shown that during the time a biofilm is being created, the pathogens inside it can communicate with each other thanks to a phenomenon called quorum sensing. The word quorum basically means a group that has enough members to function, so quorum sensing allows a single-celled bacterium to perceive how many other bacteria are in close proximity. If a bacterium can sense that it is surrounded by a dense population of other pathogens, it is more inclined to join them and contribute to the formation of a biofilm.
Bacteria that engage in quorum sensing communicate their presence by emitting chemical messages that their fellow infectious agents are able to recognize. When the messages grow strong enough, the bacteria respond en masse, behaving as a group. Quorum sensing can occur within a single bacterial species as well as between diverse species, and can regulate a host of different processes, essentially serving as a simple communication network. A variety of different molecules can be used as signals. Put plainly, disease-causing bacteria talk to each other with a chemical vocabulary.
There are two primary biochemical types in biofilm…planktonic, which are able to migrate, and sessile which have a broad base on the bacteria and do not have the same freedom of movement as planktonic.
Once colonization has begun, the biofilm grows through a combination of cell division and recruitment. The final stage of biofilm formation is known as development and is the stage in which the biofilm is established and may only change in shape and size. This development of a biofilm allows for the cells inside to become more resistant to antibiotics administered in a standard fashion. In fact, depending on the organism and type of antimicrobial and experimental system, biofilm bacteria can be up to a thousand times more resistant to antimicrobial stress than free-swimming bacteria of the same species.
Biofilms grow slowly, in diverse locations, and biofilm infections are often slow to produce overt symptoms. However, biofilm bacteria can move in numerous ways that allow them to easily infect new tissues. Biofilms may move collectively, by rippling or rolling across the surface, or by detaching in clumps. Sometimes, in a dispersal strategy referred to as “swarming/seeding”, a biofilm colony differentiates to form an outer “wall” of stationary bacteria, while the inner region of the biofilm “liquefies”, allowing planktonic cells to “swim” out of the biofilm and leave behind a hollow mound.
Once a biofilm has officially formed, it often contains channels in which nutrients can circulate. Cells in different regions of a biofilm also exhibit different patterns of gene expression. Because biofilms often develop their own metabolism, they are sometimes compared to the tissues of higher organisms, in which closely packed cells work together and create a network in which minerals can flow.
The biofilm life cycle in three steps: attachment, growth of colonies (development), and periodic detachment of planktonic cells. But if planktonic bacteria are periodically released from the biofilms, each time single bacterial forms enter the tissues, the immune system suddenly becomes aware of their presence. It may proceed to mount an inflammatory response that leads to heightened symptoms. Thus, the periodic release of planktonic bacteria from some biofilms may be what causes many chronic relapsing infections.
Matthew R. Parsek of Northwestern University describes in a 2003 paper in the Annual Review of Microbiology “ Any pathogen that survives in a chronic form benefits by keeping the host alive. After all, if a chronic bacterial form simply kills its host, it will no longer have a place to live. So according to Parsek, chronic infection often results in a “disease stalemate” where bacteria of moderate virulence are somewhat contained by the defenses of the host. The infectious agents never actually kill the host, but the host is never able to fully kill the invading pathogens either.”
Parsek believes that the optimal way for bacteria to survive under such circumstances is in a biofilm, stating that “Increasing evidence suggests that the biofilm mode of growth may play a key role in both of these adaptations. Biofilm growth increases the resistance of bacteria to killing and may make organisms less conspicuous to the immune system… ultimately this moderation of virulence may serve the bacteria’s interest by increasing the longevity of the host.”
Biofilms and disease
The fact that external biofilms are ubiquitous raises the question – if biofilms can form on essentially every surface in our external environments, can they do the same inside the human body? The answer seems to be yes, and over the past few years, research on internal biofilms has finally started to pick up pace. After all, it’s easy for biofilm researchers to see that the human body, with its wide range of moist surfaces and mucosal tissue, is an excellent place for biofilms to thrive. Not to mention the fact that those bacteria which join a biofilm have a significantly greater chance of evading the battery of immune system cells that more easily attack planktonic forms.
Many would argue that research on internal biofilms has been largely neglected, despite the fact that bacterial biofilms seem to have great potential for causing human disease.
Common sites of biofilm infection. One biofilm reach the bloodstream they can spread to any moist surface of the human body. Paul Stoodley of the Center for Biofilm Engineering at Montana State University, attributes much of the lag in studying biofilms to the difficulties of working with heterogeneous biofilms compared with homogeneous planktonic populations. In a 2004 paper in Nature Reviews, the molecular biologist describes many reasons why biofilms are extremely difficult to culture, such as the fact that the diffusion of liquid through a biofilm and the fluid forces acting on a biofilm must be carefully calculated if it is to be cultured correctly. According to Stoodley, the need to master such difficult laboratory techniques has deterred many scientists from attempting to work with biofilms.
Also, since much of the technology needed to detect internal biofilms was created at the same time as the sequencing of the human genome, interest in biofilm bacteria, and the research grants that would accompany such interest, have been largely diverted to projects with a decidedly genetic focus. However, since genetic research has failed to uncover the cause of any of the common chronic diseases, biofilms are finally – just over the past few years – being studied more intensely, and being given the credit they deserve as serious infectious entities, capable of causing a wide array of chronic illnesses.
In just a short period of time, researchers studying internal biofilms have already pegged them as the cause of numerous chronic infections and diseases, and the list of illnesses attributed to these bacterial colonies continues to grow rapidly.
According to a recent public statement from the National Institutes of Health, more than 65% of all microbial infections are caused by biofilms.
Hundreds of microbial biofilm colonize the human mouth, causing tooth decay and gum disease.
The emerging biofilm paradigm of chronic disease refers to a new movement in which researchers such as Ehrlich are calling for a tremendous shift in the way the medical community views bacterial biofilms. Those scientists who support an emerging biofilm paradigm of chronic disease feel that biofilm research is of utmost importance because of the fact that the infectious entities have the potential to cause so many forms of chronic disease. The Marshall Pathogenesis is an important part of this paradigm shift. It was also just last year that researchers realized that biofilms cause most infections associated with contact lens use. In 2006, Bausch & Lomb withdrew its ReNu with MoistureLoc contact lens solution because a high proportion of corneal infections were associated with it. It wasn’t long before researchers at the University Hospitals Case Medical Center found that the infections were caused by biofilms.
Biofilm bacteria and chronic inflammatory disease
In just a few short years, the potential of biofilms to cause debilitating chronic infections has become so clear that there is little doubt that biofilms are part of the pathogenic mix or “pea soup” that cause most or all chronic “autoimmune” and inflammatory diseases.
In fact, thanks, in large part, to the research of biomedical researcher Dr. Trevor Marshall, it is now increasingly understood that chronic inflammatory diseases result from infection with a large microbiota of chronic biofilm and L-form bacteria (collectively called the Th1 pathogens. The microbiota is thought to be comprised of numerous bacterial species, some of which have yet to be discovered. However, most of the pathogens that cause inflammatory disease have one thing in common – they have all developed ways to evade the immune system and persist as chronic forms that the body is unable to eliminate naturally. Some L-form bacteria are able to evade the immune system because, long ago, they evolved the ability to reside inside macrophages, the very white bloods cells of the immune system that are supposed to kill invading pathogens. Upon formation, L-form bacteria also lose their cell walls, which makes them impervious to components of the immune response that detect invading pathogens by identifying the proteins on their cell walls. The fact that L-form bacteria lack cell walls also means that the beta-lactam antibiotics, which work by targeting the bacterial cell wall, are completely ineffective at killing them.
The way forward for practitioners and public
One of the huge variables in treating bacteria that have evolved a biofilm defence is the state of the patient’s immune system and pH levels. For chronic conditions, tests followed by assessment can better place a practitioner to then decide upon a protocol. Mainstream medicine still favours antibiotics and some people follow the Marshall Protocol, which propagates the staggered use of antibiotics and abstinence from Vitamin D. This treatment can sometimes take 3 to 5 years. It works on the premise that “ Persister Cells ‘ in biofilm, which remain after the first treatment, will eventually be wiped out by subsequent treatments because their defence mechanism is down when hit by subsequent doses. It should be pointed out that this flies in the face of Vitamin D’s relationship to the activation of macrophages.
Rife technology has a good track record of handling biofilm, and for subsequently taking out nanobacteria that are often the cause of later conditions. Practitioners should also use the broad arsenal of other approaches available to them to augment Rife sessions. These include detox agents, Vitamin C, appropriate herbs, Far Infra Red devices and protein/amino acid formulas. Additionally, Cistus Incanus tea, the product called Biocidin and also Serrapeptase have all showed efficacy in augmenting Rife therapy.
Biofilm can be eradicated. Frequency therapy combined with nutritional support and detoxification products can break down the defences of bacteria and rid the body of its influence. As this biochemical phenomena underpins so many chronic conditions it should, these days, always be taken into consideration during diagnosis and screening.