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ASU researchers test antibacterial effects of healing clays

on scanning electron micrographs of the clays," Williams explains. "I confess that we all ignored him initially."

According to the Brunet de Courssou Web site, the family has been operating health clinics on the Ivory Coast and in New Guinea. For a decade, Madame Line Brunet de Courssou, Thierry's mother, had been importing two French clays to treat people with Buruli ulcer and was getting startling results, while her use of native clays had no effect. Williams reviewed the mother's work and notes that "Line Brunet de Courssou was a careful observer." However, Madame Brunet de Courssou was not a scientist. The mother, who is now deceased, approached the WHO in 2002 at its fifth advisory group meeting on Buruli ulcer, having documented more than 50 cases of successful healing with the clay treatments. WHO documents indicate that the organization was receptive, calling her results "impressive," yet, Williams notes, funding was denied for lack of scientific study.

Williams, from a family of physicians, says that it was really the second message that finally drew her to the project. "He said, 'I guess that no American scientists are interested in helping poor people in Africa.'"

He guessed wrong. Armed with 100 grams of green powder (clay high in reduced iron), Williams not only took the micrographs of the minerals, she went a step further and examined their crystal structure and chemical compositions. She recruited Haydel to the project before the microbiologist arrived at ASU in 2005. Haydel brought more than 13 years of experience with pathogenic bacteria, in particular tuberculosis, to the project. Within two months of Haydel's arrival, they submitted the grant proposal to the NIH.

"I approached this work from the viewpoint of a clinical microbiologist," Haydel says. "I ordered bacterial strains that pharmaceutical companies use to test their antimicrobials."

Haydel and Williams tested both of the French clays that B
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Source:Arizona State University


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