to Deseret Biologicals for their generosity in sharing
such important information.)
For years those in the CFS/FMS/MCS community have been watching
the reports of Gulf War Illness (GWI) knowing, instinctively,
that we all had something in common. Not only do we all have
common symptoms, but we may also be infected with common
pathogenic organisms. That pathogen is a Mycoplasma.
Various pathogenic strains have been identified including the
fermentans (incognitus), penetrans, genitalium, hominis, and
pneumoniae. And, we may be infected with several of these
strains at one time. Following is a simple overview of the
information I have gathered about this Mycoplasma pathogen and
how it affects us.
The information trail started with Garth and Nancy Nicolson.
Their daughter returned from the Gulf War with an unexplained
illness. She was unable to continue her studies at college, and
moved back home. Soon after, her parents both became ill with
the same symptoms.
Medical tests revealed nothing abnormal, but they all continued
to worsen. Fortunately for them, however, the Nicolson’s were
molecular pathologists with an entire research laboratory at
their disposal. The Nicolson’s drew blood and tissue samples
from themselves and their daughter, and set the research team,
Garth Nicolson Ph.D. is a professor and former chairman of the
Department of Tumor Biology at the University of Texas, M.D.
Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX. He is also a professor of
Internal Medicine, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the
University of Texas Medical School. He has published over 500
scientific and medical papers, has edited 14 books, he is the
current editor of two scientific and medical journals. Dr.
Nicolson has been nominated for the Nobel Prize in cell
microbiology, is among the 100 most cited researchers in the
world, and sits on the board of the American Association of
Cancer Research. Nancy Nicolson, Ph.D. is president of the
Rhodon Foundation for Biomedical Research. She, also, has
published numerous scientific papers and was a professor in the
Department of Immunology and Microbiology at Baylor College of
What they found was a living Mycoplasma pathogen.
In order to find this organism, they had to break open the
leukocytes (white blood cells), and perform a specific test
called a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) of the DNA of the
organism. Nancy also perfected another test, called Gene
Tracking, which confirms the PCR results.
To gather more information, they then started testing other
Gulf War Illness (GWI) patients. What they found was that approximately 50%
were positive for the live organism!
The Nicolson’s then
researched treatment options and found a number of antibiotics
that were effective against the organism. After a lengthy course of
antibiotics, they recovered. But, the word was out, and
requests for testing of GWI patients kept coming in to the lab.
They were inundated!
As their evidence mounted, they published their data and
testified before the President’s Panel on Gulf War
Then the connection was made by the government of the
similarities between GWI and CFIDS. By this time, the Nicolson’s lab
was already running tests of those with CFIDS---with the same
results-- approximately 50% positive!
Garth and Nancy Nicolson even wrote an article for the CFIDS
Chronicle outlining the diagnosis and treatment of
But, the politics of medicine and research slowed the gears of
progress. Garth and Nancy had to relocate their non-profit lab
(The Institute for Molecular Medicine), first to Irvine, CA,
then to Huntington Beach, CA. They have had difficulty finding
funding for the Mycoplasma research. For their research to
continue with CFIDS testing, they need a new grant. In the
meantime, they have formed a non-profit organization and take
tax deductible donations. Presently, one can become a "Friend
of the Institute" and have the various tests done at The
Institute for Molecular Biology lab, as well as, participate in
the research (see Mycoplasma Resource List for full
They only recently opened a private laboratory, International
Molecular Diagnostics, that can run a variety of tests and does
third-party billing of insurance for part of the cost of the
Those of us who have tested positive and have begun treatment
with the antibiotics recommended by the Nicolson’s have had
tremendous success. Some of these people have been ill with
CFS/FMS/MCS for 15-20 years. But, they are feeling better for
the first time since becoming ill!
Some have even returned to work. Many have completed several
months of antibiotics, and several have been taking them
continuously for 4-5 years. Since most of us in the CFS/FMS/MCS
community have been ill with this organism for a lot longer
than the GWI patients do, it may take longer to successfully
treat the infection.
Mycoplasmas are the smallest and simplest organism
They are not new. They were discovered over 100 years ago and
evolved from bacteria. The "garden variety" mycoplasma is not
usually associated with severe diseases.
However, sometime over the past 30 years, the organism has been
altered to become more lethal. The Mycoplasmas found by the
Nicolson’s, in their lab, contain unusual gene sequences that
were probably inserted into the Mycoplasma by a specific
laboratory procedure. This
discovery has led them to conclude that the new forms of
mycoplasma were specifically engineered for germ
In it’s laboratory
evolution, the Mycoplasmas have became more invasive, more
difficult to find, and capable of causing severe diseases in
Diseases, like Gulf War Illness, CFS, FMS, MCS, Rheumatoid
Arthritis, Lyme Disease and AIDS, for instance.
The earlier form of Mycoplasma was studied by Dr. Shyh Lo,
formerly of Tanox Biosystems, a spin-off biotechnology company
from the Baylor College of Medicine, but now affiliated with
the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Washington D.C. Dr.
Lo has been credited with discovering the new pathogenic form
of Mycoplasmas, and he currently holds several patents on
methods for special handling of the organisms for study and
In one of his patents (in 1991), Dr. Lo lists the following
diseases that are caused by Mycoplasma: HIV infection, AIDS,
Aids Related Complex (ARC), Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Wegener’s
Disease, Sarcoidosis, Respiratory Distress Syndrome, Kibuchi’s
Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, and Lupus.
In addition, Baseman and Tully have reviewed the literature on
the role of Mycoplasmal infections in human disease and have
concluded that they are important factors or co-factors in a
variety of chronic illnesses.
Unlike bacteria, the Mycoplasma has no cell wall. This enables
it to invade tissue cells, incorporating the cell's nutrients,
and using the cell to replicate itself (much like a
retrovirus). When the Mycoplasma breaks out of the cell, it
takes a piece of the host cell membrane with it. When the
immune system attacks the Mycoplasma, it also gets "turned on"
to attacking the host cell.
In this way, an
autoimmune condition can begin.
Autoimmune conditions associated with Mycoplasmas include
arthritis, Fibromyalgia, myositis, thyroid dysfunction
(Hashimoto’s or Grave’s Diseases), and adrenal dysfunction,
signs and symptoms of Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis, Lyme,and Lou
The Mycoplasma organism has the capacity to invade cells,
tissues and blood, producing systemic infections in numerous
organ systems. According to Dr. Nicholson, it can penetrate the
central and peripheral nervous system. Because it has the
ability to damage the immune system by invading the natural
killer cells (NK cells) of the lymphocytes, it weakens them,
reduces their numbers, and renders them susceptible to viral
infections, such as Human Herpes Virus 6 (HHV6), HHV7 or HHV8.
It may also explain
some of the environmentally sensitive responses that are seen
with CFIDS and MCS.
Mycoplasma infection can trigger inflammatory cytokine
over-production that is commonly seen in CFS/FMS. With the
induction of CD-4+ helper cells of the immune system, an over
production of cytokines such as Interleukin-1, Interleukin-6
and Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha occurs. These elevated cytokines have
been implicated in the development of many of the CFS/FMS
symptoms, including neurological involvement.
They can have
specific or nonspecific stimulatory or suppressive
effects on lymphocytes, as measured by B and T cell
In addition, the Mycoplasma infection has immune-modulating
effects, activating the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis.
This can cause a cascade of limbic system symptoms
characteristic of CFS/FMS. (19)
The Mycoplasma is a slow-growing, stealth-type organism that
can cause the patient to be very ill. It activates the immune
system, then can successfully hide from it within the host
immune cells. It can then circulate throughout the body and go
wherever a white blood cell can go. It can cause infection deep
within any or all organs. It can even cross the blood/brain
barrier and cause brain and spinal infection. It has also been
known to cross the placental barrier to an unborn
Unless the white blood cell is split open and examined for the
evidence of the live organism, it can go undetected for years.
Because the organism resides deep within the cells,
conventional antibody tests may be relatively useless.
The splitting open
(fraction) of leukocytes (white blood cells) from a fresh blood
sample, with a forensic PCR test is the most accurate way to
detect the presence of active infection with a live pathogen.
Further gene-tracking techniques perfected by the Nicolson’s
are even more accurate.
Although the researchers have not clearly established how
contagious the Mycoplasmas are, they have made some inferences
from the data they have collected.
The Mycoplasma organism has been found in the blood and body
fluids, spinal fluid, bone marrow, urine, and in the lungs,
nose and mouth. The Mycoplasma is reported to be able to
survive for two hours outside the body.
Of those with Gulf War Illness, 50% of their spouses have
contracted the disease and 100% of their children. Several
babies have also been known to be born with the disease. Some
sort of chemical exposure or immune distress (i.e., auto
accident, surgery, cancer) appears to pre-date the onset of
Of those with CFS, FMS, and MCS, numerous friends and spouses
have the illness, as well as close relatives. So, from the
anecdotal reports, it would appear that Mycoplasma is
contagious after both casual and intimate contact.
This means that the organism may possibly be passed to another
through sputum (coughing droplets that contain the organism),
saliva, sexual secretions, blood, and urine. The disease is
also developing in family pets.
If one tests positive for any of the Mycoplasmas, in order to
safeguard those with whom you have close contact, it would be
prudent to do the following: Wash your hands a lot, never share
your food or drink with another, wash eating utensils with
extremely hot water, keep your hands away from your face, avoid
closed-air spaces where air is re-circulated (i.e., offices,
airplanes), and use protective sexual practices.
Click here to view the homeopathic Mycoplasma Series
Therapy NOTE: You need a prescription from
your doctor for these products.