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Nanobacteria is the name of a hypothetical class of living organisms; specifically cell-walled microorganisms with a size much smaller than the generally accepted lower limits for life, about 200 nanometres for bacteria. 200 nm happens to be the size of the smallest object which could be resolved in a standard light microscope. In 1996, the size was supposedly derived from the smallest volume required by known organisms, where nanobacteria were unknown.

Reports of them being living organisms are controversial.[1] If they are living, there is speculation that they may be a newly discovered form of life, rather than bacteria.[2] The term calcifying nanoparticles (CNPs) has also been used, side-stepping the question of their formal status as a life form. Although nanobes are sometimes associated with nanobacteria, and sometimes mistakenly synonymized with nanobacteria, it is not known whether they are really related.

Additional recommended knowledge


1981-1992 discoveries

In 1981 Torella and Morita described very small cells called ultramicrobacteria. Defined as being smaller than 300 nm, by 1982 MacDonell and Hood found that some could pass through a 200 nm membrane. Early in 1989, geologist Robert L. Folk found what he later identified as nannobacteria (written with two "n"s instead of one), that is, nanoparticles isolated from geological specimens[3] in travertine from hot springs of Viterbo, Italy. Initially searching for a bacterial cause for travertine deposition, scanning electron microscope examination of the mineral where no bacteria were detectable revealed extremely small objects which appeared to be biological. His first oral presentation "elicited mostly a stony silence", at the 1992 Geological Society of America's annual convention.[2] He proposed that nannobacteria are the principal agents of precipitation of all mineral and crystals on Earth formed in liquid water, they also cause all oxidation of metals, and are abundant in many biological specimens.

1996 Martian meteorite claims

Structures in the Martian meteorite ALH84001 have been interpreted by some as fossilized nanobacteria, but the origin of the structures is disputed.

1998–2000 claims

Nanobacterium sanguineum was proposed in 1998 as an explanation of certain kinds of pathologic calcification (apatite in kidney stones) by Finnish researcher Olavi Kajander and Turkish researcher Neva Ciftcioglu, working at the University of Kuopio in Finland. According to the researchers the particles self-replicated in microbiological culture, and the researchers further reported having identified DNA in these structures by staining.[4]

A paper published in 2000 by a team led by a dentist John Cisar USNIH stated that the "self-replication" was, in fact, an unusual form of crystalline growth, and that the only DNA detected in these cultures was contamination from environmental bacteria.[5] However, the Cisar group did not as part of their study examine nanobacteria samples from the Kajander group, therefore critics stated that without such a control sample the phenomenon studied by Cisar et al. may differ from that seen by the Kajander group.

Drs. Olavi Kajander & Neva Ciftcioglu set up a company in Finland in 2000 "Nanobac Oy" later absorbed in 2003 by a publicly traded Nanobacteria research company in Tampa, Florida founded by Nanobiotic developer Gary Mezo, 'Nanobac Pharmaceuticals, Inc.', {OTCBB: NNBP} to market medical diagnostic kits for identifying nanobacteria to medical researchers, and are developing prescription medical treatments for calcification-associated diseases. This has raised doubts concerning their impartiality. However, such practices are commonplace among researchers throughout the world, and are generally accepted if publicly disclosed and transparently revealed, which in this case they were in filings submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission.[6]

April 2004 claims

In a press release, Nanobac Pharmaceuticals, Inc. {OTCBB: NNBP} reports that a strong correlation has been found between antibodies to nanobacteria and coronary artery calcification (associated with increased risk of coronary artery disease). The results were obtained using a testing kit produced by Nanobac. Tests on 198 patients were led by top Endovascular Researcher & Cardiovascular Researcher Stephen Epstein, MD, PhD, FACC, Director of the Cardiovascular Research Institute, Washington Hospital Center, Washington, D.C.

May 2004 claims

In 2004 a Mayo Clinic team led by infectious disease expert, Franklin Cockerill, MD, PhD, John Lieske, MD, and Virginia M. Miller, PhD. at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota reports to have isolated nanobacteria in diseased human arteries and kidney stones. Their results were accepted and published in 2004 and 2006 respectively.[7][8] These findings were confirmed in 2005 by László Puskás, PhD at the DNA Lab, University of Szeged, Hungary. Dr. Puskás identified these particles in cultures obtained from human atherosclerotic aortic walls and blood samples of atherosclerotic patients but the group was unable to detect DNA in these samples.[9] For historical interest it has to be noted that the content of the referred paper was originally submitted to Nature as "Letter to Editor" for fast publication several years earlier. It was rejected after almost four months of peer-review process on the basis of the lack of detection of any kind of genetic material.

Unlike the Finnish nanobacteria researchers (discoverers), those at the Mayo Clinic apparently have no linked commercial interests. Working with particles less than 0.2 micrometres in size, they found indirect evidence that the particles had self-replicated, and found that they had a cell-like appearance under an electron microscope. They also believe that the particles are producing RNA, since they absorbed one of its building blocks, uridine, in greater quantities than would be expected in the case of pure absorption (by crystals such as apatite). Using an antibody produced by the Finnish researchers, the particles were found to bind to diseased arterial tissue, and to the same sites to which a DNA stain bound. The researchers now plan to isolate RNA and DNA from the nanobacteria.

February 2005 NASA Results

Nanobac Pharmaceuticals' researcher, Neva Ciftcioglu, PhD and her Nanobacteria research team at NASA announced the results of an experiment in which a bioreactor chamber that simulates conditions of space travel was used to culture nanobacteria suspected of rapidly forming kidney stones in astronauts. In this microgravity environment, they were found to multiply five times faster than in normal Earth gravity. NASA also determined that nanobacteria were shown to be a possible infectious risk for crew members living in close quarters.[10]

November 2006 Video Footage

Nanobac Pharmaceuticals released the first ever live video footage of calcifying particles on November 2, 2006 in Tampa, Florida using a new high definition Nikon microscope. In addition, the video showed a decalcifying agent dissolving calcified structures and inorganic crystals. Before the recent release of the new technology from Aetos Technologies which allows real-time tracking of calcifying nanoparticles (CNPs), observing live processes was impossible.[3]

"Although preliminary, this is a significant scientific and medical finding," stated Dr. Arnold Mandell, a professor emeritus at UCSD School of Medicine, research professor at the Emory University School of Medicine and a MacArthur Prize Fellow in the medical sciences.

"While these are early findings, we believe they merit serious investigation," explained Nanobac Co-chairman Dr. Benedict Maniscalco.

See also


  1. ^ Kajander E (2006). "Nanobacteria--propagating calcifying nanoparticles". Lett Appl Microbiol 42 (6): 549-52. PMID 16706890.
  2. ^ Ciftcioglu N, McKay D, Mathew G, Kajander E (2006). "Nanobacteria: fact or fiction? Characteristics, detection, and medical importance of novel self-replicating, calcifying nanoparticles". J Investig Med 54 (7): 385-94. PMID 17169260.
  3. ^ A convention has been adopted between researchers to name -or spell- the nanoparticles isolated from geological specimens as nannobacteria , and those from biological specimens: nanobacteria.
  4. ^ Kajander E, Ciftçioglu N (1998). "Nanobacteria: an alternative mechanism for pathogenic intra- and extracellular calcification and stone formation". Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 95 (14): 8274-9. PMID 9653177.
  5. ^ Cisar J, Xu D, Thompson J, Swaim W, Hu L, Kopecko D (2000). "An alternative interpretation of nanobacteria-induced biomineralization". Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 97 (21): 11511-5. PMID 11027350.
  6. ^ SEC filings by Nanobac Pharmaceuticals Inc: [1]
  7. ^ Miller V, Rodgers G, Charlesworth J, Kirkland B, Severson S, Rasmussen T, Yagubyan M, Rodgers J, Cockerill F, Folk R, Rzewuska-Lech E, Kumar V, Farell-Baril G, Lieske J (2004). "Evidence of nanobacterial-like structures in calcified human arteries and cardiac valves". Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol 287 (3): H1115-24. PMID 15142839.
  8. ^ Kumar V, Farell G, Yu S, Harrington S, Fitzpatrick L, Rzewuska E, Miller VM, Lieske JC. (2006). "Cell biology of pathologic renal calcification: contribution of crystal transcytosis, cell-mediated calcification, and nanoparticles.". Journal of Invstigative Medicine 54 (7): 412-424. PMID 17169263.
  9. ^ Puskás L, Tiszlavicz L, Rázga Z, Torday L, Krenács T, Papp J (2005). "Detection of nanobacteria-like particles in human atherosclerotic plaques". Acta Biol Hung 56 (3-4): 233-45. PMID 16196199.
  10. ^ Ciftçioglu N, Haddad R, Golden D, Morrison D, McKay D (2005). "A potential cause for kidney stone formation during space flights: enhanced growth of nanobacteria in microgravity". Kidney Int 67 (2): 483-91. PMID 15673296.
  • From Scum, Perhaps the Tiniest Form of Life, NY Times December 23, 2006
  • Abstract: American Journal Physiology — Heart and Circulatory Physiology May 13, 2004
  • An alternative interpretation of nanobacteria-induced biomineralization
  • Are Nanobacteria Making Us Ill?, Wired News, Mar. 14, 2005
  • Claim made for new form of life, BBC News, May 19, 2004
  • Evidence of Nanobacterial-like Structures in Human Calcified Arteries and Cardiac Valves
  • Infectious Microorganism Linked to Kidney Stones and other Diseases, February 2005
  • Nannobacteria Research Page of the Department of Geosciences, Mississippi State University
  • Nanobac press release, April 2004
  • Nanobacteria: An alternative mechanism for pathogenic intra- and extracellular calcification and stone formation
  • New Scientist article about nanobacteria
  • The Calcium Bomb — The Nanobacteria Link to Heart Disease and Cancer
  • Taylor, Michael (1999). Dark Life. New York, NY: Scribner. ISBN 0-684-84191-6. 
  • Nanobac Pharmaceuticals news release. First Live Video of Calcifying Nanoparticles Provides Possible Key to Chronic Disease Condition, November 2, 2006

Additional reading

  • Nanobacteria: Facts or Fancies? The Time Travelers Academy. A science fiction novel, It tells a story about the nanobacteria found in Martian meteorites.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Nanobacterium". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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