Acute Inflammatory Response, Uveal Melanoma, or Lymphoma? R/O Rickettsiales (Wolbachia)

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Ever since Chen, Dong, et al. (2015) published Detection of Wolbachia genes in a patient with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, I've been shocked that no one appears to be looking for Wolbachia infections in vertebrates. 

When I read about an eye cancer cluster that has affected nearly two dozen people and killed four within a 15-mile radius of a North Carolina town, I immediately suspected Wolbachia. 

In fact, I wrote four times to Dr. Brennan, who is receiving a $100,000 grant to investigate why so many young people (mostly women in their 30s and younger), have been stricken with this rare eye cancer.

Here are condensed versions of what I wrote and his one (full) response on Jan. 8th, 2018:

Jan. 5, 2018
Dear Dr. Brennan,

I would like to offer up a possible environmental reason: Wolbachia.

Notably, one of the young women, Kenan Koll, was first diagnosed with ocular melanoma in the area in 2009. And it was in 2009 the first Wolbachia-infected Aedes experiments were conducted by U.S. government

Notable Study Quotes:

"The major surface protein of Wolbachia endosymbionts in filarial nematodes elicits immune responses through TLR2 and TLR4."

"TLR4 mediated inflammation has also been associated with the aetiology of ocular onchocerciasis (popularly known as river blindness) which is a case of corneal inflammation with potential loss of vision."

Nonimmune functions of the TLR family have been reported in Drosophila melanogaster in establishing the dorsal–ventral axis polarity, in synaptogenesis, and in axon pathfinding during embryogenesis (Anderson et al., 1985; Halfon et al., 1995; Rose et al., 1997).

Such nonimmune functions of this receptor family have only recently emerged in mammals. We have recently shown that in the adult mammalian central nervous system (CNS), TLRs, including TLR4, regulate adult hippocampal neurogenesis (Rolls et al., 2007).

The Wolbachia strain, wMel, is Drosophila melanogaster and is one of types used in Wolbachia-infected Aedes releases.

Dr. Brennan responded Jan. 8, 2018:

Hi Rose

The Daily Mail has inaccuracies but the reporter was certainly genuine. Happy to discuss Wolbachia—how do I speak with you?

I responded the next day, Jan. 9, 2018:

Dear Dr. Brennan,

After I wrote to you, I found out you served as the AAO's 2009 academy president. Speaking of the AAO, I was surprised to find inaccurate information about river blindness (onchocerciasis) on their website. It states:

"As a result of the body's reaction to the parasites, the delicate structures in the eyes are damaged, leading to blindness."

In fact, it is the Wolbachia emitted by the worm that is problematic. This was suspected in 2002 and widely known by 2008 in (at least) the microbiology field.

"... the real culprit is the Wolbachia onboard ... Furthermore, Wolbachia inside living nematodes don't cause disease, either. Witness the fact that adult filarias can live in a human host for as long as 14 years without causing much damage ... Clearly, river blindness results from the immune response to the worm's endosymbiont ..." 

And I show additional studies in my PSA that supports this lone quote.

According to this post (dated Nov. 21, 2016): "The United States Environmental Protection Agency has approved MosquitoMate field trials in four US states, including California, Kentucky, New York and Florida."

What this tells me is your cluster of almost two dozen patients with an extremely rare eye CA around Huntersville, NC, could definitely be attributed to Wolbachia.

Mosquitoes get transported to neighboring states rather easily via cargo, shipping containers, and vehicles. And mosquitoes, larvae and eggs will all contain Wolbachia.

Rain, wind, and waterways also transport mosquitoes, larvae and eggs. And even dead ones pose a risk since Wolbachia can survive (at least) a week in a dead host — ample time for other organisms and creatures to acquire and spread it.

"Wolbachia bacteria were able to survive extracellularly for up to 1 week with no decrease in viability ... were able to reinvade cells and establish stable infections at all time points. The ability of Wolbachia bacteria to survive outside host cells may increase the probability of successful horizontal transfer ...

When I viewed the map surrounding Huntersville, Lake Norman and the waterways that feed it would make ideal breeding grounds for Culex tarsalis and Culex quinquefasciatus. Both of these species of mosquitoes were better vectors of West Nile (very related to Zika) and malaria, respectively, when they naturally acquired Wolbachia.

What you (and your patients) may not know is that Culex spp. are nighttime-active and many independent research teams have found Culex (including these aforementioned types) are capable Zika vectors.

And, the presence of a virus facilitates the invasion of Wolbachia (Strauß and Telschow, 2015). 

To be complete, Evans et al. 2016, has determined that seven species of mosquitoes are capable of being Zika vectors. And collectively, they encompass the U.S. (and much of Canada)

I have concluded that the spread of Wolbachia (with or without Zika acting as a phage) is much more urgent in North America because of the pattern observed in other viruses such as West Nile.

"Clearly, the bacteria [Wolbachia] are more virulent when they encounter a new species. However when the bacterial infection was closely examined, it was found that infected individuals of both species contained the same number of bacteria." 

Therefore, I urge you (and others) to test your patients for the presence of Wolbachia since this infection can be treated.

But I never heard from Dr. Brennan, so I emailed him Jan. 15, 2018:

Dear Dr. Brennan,

RE: Uveal Melanoma, UVR, p53, BDUMP, and Wolbachia-infected Aedes

Research teams in the U.S. and Australia have been working on this technology, which the WHO endorses, for about 20 years.

And, it became clear to me reading study literature that there are many "unknown" factors that scientists cannot explain in relation to uveal melanoma.

My video covers statistics about misdiagnosis, a differential diagnosis known as bilateral diffuse uveal melanocytic proliferation (BDUMP), the link to ultraviolet radiation, and p53 (also known as TP53 or the tumor protein).

I strongly feel that Wolbachia-infected Aedes releases are going to cause an uptick in unusual cancers in young people living near open bodies of water.

It's crucial that surgeons, eye care professionals, and oncologists utilize a broad range PCR screen for infection by Rickettsiales (Wolbachia genes detected in blood) before enucleation or evisceration.

There are treatment options for Wolbachia infections of the eye: doxycycline, minocycline, or rifampicin.

This is a matter of life and death for some people.

Most respectfully,

Rose Webster
Canadian freelance writer, researcher, and documentary filmmaker
Former frontline SARS worker (St. Michael's Hospital, Toronto)
Educated in nursing, orthotics/prosthetics, and ophthalmology (assisting)

New paper (with citations): Uveal Melanoma and/or Lymphoma? R/O Rickettsiales (Wolbachia)