Discovering Infectious Determinants of Chronic Diseases


Determining the cause of chronic diseases — such as Lyme disease, Bartonellosis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, neuropsychiatric diseases and Crohn’s disease — is now within reach.

It’s startling to consider that if only five percent of chronic diseases are attributable to infectious agents, in The United States alone, approximately 4.5 million of the 90 million people living with chronic disease might receive benefit from new plans and programs.

The prospect of helping to unlock the cause of chronic illness for such a vast amount of people prompted the Thought Leadership & Innovation Foundation (TLI) to initiate research to discover infectious determinants of these chronic diseases. For well over 100 years, infections caused by bacteria have been researched extensively, and those once considered deadly are now controlled or defeated with modern treatments and medicines.

However, we recognized that most of the research conducted to date has targeted acute rather than chronic infections. While numerous causal relationships are scientifically established, chronic diseases often result from masked chronic infections, and it has become evident that continued research is required to detect and confirm additional links.

TLI researchers are focusing on the exploration of new capabilities to prove causality of chronic infection, opening the door to new treatment plans and public health programs. As we progress with this vital research, our expectations continue to grow that this initiative will become the opportunity to avoid irreversible or severe chronic disease across large populations, reduce the number and severity of chronic diseases worldwide and lead to earlier prevention and treatment of infection.

A Breakthrough: The Role of Biofilms

Current research conducted by TLI Fellows Dr. Bob Mozayeni and Dr. Marna Ericson indicate that biofilms play an important factor in the chronic diseases referenced above.

They report that up to 80 percent of all bacterial infections in our bodies live in biofilms which enable bacteria to grow in protective film-covered clusters. These biofilm bacteria often persist undetected and undiagnosed, causing chronic illness by fostering the growth of microbes that contribute to inflammation.

Further, they assert that biofilms may be unrecognized stages in the pathways from infection exposure to chronic illness and are likely to determine a substantially greater, and potentially preventable, number of chronic illness cases than currently thought.

Introducing the Regenerative Medicine Program

TLI has been a partner in exploring biofilms as they relate to chronic disease for four years and strongly believes there is merit in the science. Because new strategies must build on sound scientific evidence, we’ve established a Regenerative Medicine program with the infrastructure to support the continuation of this work, development of additional grant-funded research and other initiatives.

Regenerative medicine is the process of creating living, functional tissues to repair or replace tissue or organ function lost due to age, disease, damage or congenital defects.

We’re Counting on You

For those with a relative or loved one who has been impacted by a chronic illness, the continuation of this research is visceral. But you don’t have to be personally impacted to appreciate the extraordinary value of achieving the worldwide goals to reduce chronic disease and make significant advances in regenerative medicine. Our work will impact generations to come.

The progress we have made to date is compelling, and we expect that continued research will lead to more answers and solutions. This is made possible through expanded partnerships with hospital systems, academic institutions, and donor support. On the positive side, TLI has already raised 40 percent of its funding goal, with a commitment for 50 percent of the total received.

We recognize that sustained annual funding will be achieved through a mix of corporate and private sponsors, grants, and research and commercial fees.

If you are reviewing this blog, we hope that you will pass it along to friends and colleagues. We invite every member of our audience to become a partner or donor: contact the foundation.

About TLI Foundation:

TLI Foundation is a nonprofit foundation focused on driving innovative thinking and action on global issues relating to health, education and economic empowerment. The organization is committed to fostering transformative change and improving the health and well-being outcomes of communities around the world.