Kirk’s Video Overview of Interview with Stephen E. Fry MS, MD (4:51 min)
Stephen Fry, MS, MD was trained as a microbiologist and in molecular biology before becoming a physician. After doing surgical pathology work, he went into private practice and he began looking forthe causes of chronic inflammatory diseases that seem to have no known cause. He went to the 3rd International Biofilm Conference in Vancouver and this opened his eyes to the role of biofilm in chronic diseases. He recalls from his surgical pathology experiences seeing a “gunky” substance in the brains and the arteries which was the biofilm produced by the organisms. He also noticed the same type of “gunky” substances in the surgical equipment they used. This made him suspicious that plaque may be a mixture of organisms that produce this slime or biofilm. He eventually did a study using metagenomic sequencing and found mainly protozoans like fungi and algae in these mixed communities in arterial plaque biopsies, but not as much bacteria. This finding of fungi in plaque has been confirmed by other researchers. In his laboratory (Fry Laboratories) after doing thousands of assays from chronic inflammatory disease patients he feels that the main infecting organisms are mainly fungal and then other organisms join the infection community in that particular tissue making it more difficult to treat.
Biofilm in the past was said to be the “slime” layer. Biofilm is made by prokaryotes (bacteria) and eukaryotes (fungi, protozoans and algae) that secrete these complexed polysaccharides. The biofilm protects the organism from the environment. It allows nutrients to come in and DNA to go out.
Infection and Coronary Artery Disease
Zithromax has been used to try to eradicate mycoplasma without any cardiovascular benefit. This was the wrong organism and does not use a biofilm disrupting approach. Dr. Fry believes these plaque infecting organisms are probably complexed eukaryotic fungi in coronary disease and possibly in brain diseases as well. An anecdotal experience shared by a dermatology colleague who treated his Rosacea patients with tetracycline for years was that this population didn’t appear to get heart attacks.
Dr. Fry would like to do a study of coronary plaque biopsies from around the world and using mass spectroscopy find out what these organisms in the plaque really are. The samples would come from the hard and soft plaque and Dr. Fry notes that the hard plaque may be something that is laid down by these organisms (hard plaque is calcium, lipids, macrophages and inflammatory cells). Plaque needs to be re-evaluated about what it really is. When we find out exactly what plaque is then Dr. Fry feels the problem of atherosclerosis will be made more clear and appropriate treatments will be created for it. Dr. Fry is convinced that vascular disease is colonization of the artery with eukaryotes (mostly fungal). Recent studies have found fungi in the blood vessels of Alzheimer’s and Lou Gehrig’s disease patients.
How Garlic and EDTA May Benefit Coronary Artery Disease
Aged garlic extract’s benefit in slowing calcified plaque progression and reversing soft plaque may be due to its ability to disrupt biofilm in the infected plaque. Garlic is the root of the plant and may have developed chemicals that prevent invasion by an organism. Curcumin and turmeric may work similarly. EDTA may also work as a biofilm disrupter, especially with fungi and bacterial biofilms. Cardiologist Dr. Gervasio Lamas also reported more heavy metal burden in cardiovascular patients (i.e. lead, cadmium, etc.) and these metals aside from being toxic in-and-of themselves may help fungi to grow better, and therefore support the fungal infection in the arterial plaque.
Autoimmune Disease and Antibiotics
Dr. Fry has used tetracycline for autoimmune diseases and has had reasonable results but when he has added antifungals (i.e. itraconazole, terbinafine, etc.) he gets much better results.
Assessing Coronary Artery Disease Plaque
At present he has no laboratory assay to tell the physician what organisms are in the arterial plaque by a blood sample. Larger studies are needed at different places world-wide to sample arterial plaque to see what organisms are in the plaque to confirm his hypothesis that fungi are the greatest contributor to arterial plaque growth along with other organisms that are along for the “ride.” Just because you find the organisms in the plaque doesn’t mean you will find that same organism in the blood. You may not find any in the blood. So, there is no blood test at present to diagnose what is in the arterial plaque, though his lab may come up with a “liquid biopsy” of the plaque in the near future to possibly measure vascular load.
Why A Whole Food Plant-Based Diet Might Work for Preventing and Reversing Coronary Artery Disease
Antimicrobial and antifungal components in plants may be preventing or reversing this infectious process in the arteries. Dr. Fry notes sugar is in almost all processed foods in varying forms and amounts and every microbiologist knows that you give sugar to organisms to make them grow. He comments on Dr. Colin Campbell’s discussion with him where he stated that in his past research with porcine models of cardiovascular disease that protein was much more atherogenic by weight than carbohydrates or fats. The typical American diet is 30-40% animal protein thereby probably increasing cardiovascular risk.
Future Research Direction
Dr. Fry wants to get a large study done (and published) that takes several hundred samples of coronary artery plaque from around the world and finds out what organisms are present and then get appropriate treatments (probably a combination of drugs) that will eradicate these micro-organisms.
In the interim before a proven infectious disease protocol is discovered people who are willing to change their diet should to go on a whole food plant based diet (WFPBD) like used in Dr. Esselstyn’s 2014 paper (J Family Practice 2014;63(7):356-364) on 198 individuals with proven coronary artery disease and there was no more heart attacks in the group after 3.7 years in the 177 who stayed on the diet. Just one stroke occurred in the treatment group or .06% having another CVD event. In the 22 individuals who went off the diet 62% had another cardiovascular event. He has seen the benefit of this WFPBD approach in his wife who had significant cardiovascular problems and this diet has shown great benefit in kidney disease and other diseases like ALS as well. This WFPBD is difficult for the average American because they are used to consuming so much meat and dairy products. Maybe doxycycline with an augmented WFPBD might work but further study is needed.
He doubts that eating animal products are the source of the pathogens. The pathogens probably come from insect bites, contaminated water or raw food. Even breathing in infectious agents may be a source of pathogen that eventually may infect arterial plaque. He believes the cause is environmental.
Stephen Fry, MS, MD, is the Medical Director of Fry Laboratories located in Scottsdale, Arizona. This lab has evaluated the role of infectious agents in chronic inflammatory diseases for more than 15 years. He co-authored the paper entitled “Evidence for polymicrobial communities in explanted vascular filters and atheroma debris,” in the journal, “Molecular and Cellular Probes” in 2017 (Molecular and Cellular Probes, 2017;33:65-77) and he also uses whole food plant-based nutrition in his practice when patients are open to it.
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