Everybody’s got to deviate from the norm. —Rush
John Galsworthy wrote that the beginning and endings of human undertakings are untidy. It was never more so than in the early days of HCV, a mere 20 years ago, when a plague first called “non-A non-B hepatitis” began vexing people, progressively scarring their livers and behaving a lot like an infectious disease rather than a toxic or autoimmune one. The medical research system even seemed reluctant to embrace it, hesitant to give over its full attention, because a kind of HIV fatigue had fallen over medicine.
In order to prove that an illness is an infectious disease, researchers continue to revere Koch’s postulates, which we once covered briefly at Gumshoe Biotech. Herr Professor Dr. Robert H.H. Koch was a genuine hotshot German physician born in 1843 who, for the first time, identified the critters that cause cholera, anthrax and tuberculosis and, for his trouble, won the 1905 Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology. While Koch was primarily a bacteriologist, he was the first to recognize that proving that a microbe caused a disease was problematic: trauma, stress, absorbed toxins, autoimmune-driven inflammation, parasites, nutritional deficiencies….all on occasion emulate infectious disease in our tissues (and on other occasions, syphilis, a very infectious disease, emulates all of them).
Koch set forth a set of four rules, ones quite difficult to improve upon, that you have to checklist-verify in order to “prove” a germ is causing a disease. First, he said, the causative organism must be present in the tissues in every single case of the disease (that one seem obvious now, but seemed a high bar in the 19th century). Next, researchers have to be able to isolate the guilty germ from an infected animal or patient and by some means propagate it outside the body. Third, you’ve got to be able to take what you got in step two, and show that when a disease-free host is exposed to that, the host comes down with the very same illness. Finally, fourth, you’ve got to isolate the germ from the host you deliberately infected, and demonstrate that it is the same germ that you were dealing with in step two.
A candidate virus for the cause of non-A non-B hepatitis was identified, and soon the time came for the grim task of invoking the Koch postulates and seeing if they verified what we suspected. ...
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