Researchers who've found strange nanoparticles in a handful of kidney stones say the self-replicating specks may play a role in disease.
The U.S. researchers are not sure whether these tiny particles, 50 to 100 nanometres across, are living nanobacteria or some strange, non-living, self-assembling ball of chemicals.
"We have some evidence that would support either possibility," said kidney specialist Dr. John Lieske of the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine.
He and colleagues report their findings in the December 2006 issue of the Journal of Investigative Medicine.At some point in their life about 10 per cent of people will get kidney stones, a painful condition in which calcium deposits clog the kidneys.
Scientists aren't sure what causes these deposits, but a theory Lieske and his colleagues are investigating is that tiny calcium-covered particles are partly to blame.Previous research has found such particles in human serum, urine, renal cysts from patients with kidney disease, as well as in kidney stones.
Lieske says some researchers dub the particles nanobacteria, and propose they are a new disease-causing agent. But Lieske says there is not yet enough evidence to say the particles are alive. Whether they are alive or not, understanding the role of nanoparticles in kidney stones will be useful in developing treatments, Lieske says.
What is known is that harmful calcification in the body is caused by nanoparticles, whether or not they can be classified as a form of bacteria. Furthermore, these nanoparticles depend on getting ‘fed’ calcium and phosphorous from the bloodstream.
It is interesting to note that dairy milk, which is highly acidic, is also rich in calcium and phosphorous. This combination of high acidity and high levels of calcium and phosphorous serve to overwhelm the bloodstream, forcing the calcium and phosphorous to be made available to nanoparticles wherever they may be lurking in the body.
This means that the regular consumption of dairy milk may significantly contribute to the proliferation of nanoparticles and harmful calcification in the human body. This subject is examined in depth in in The Milk Imperative, a remarkable new book that explodes many myths about dairy products.