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Researchers Work to Unravel Skin Medical Mystery

Posted: September 23, 2008

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Randy Wymore, an assistant professor of pharmacology and physiology who directs the Center for the Investigation of Morgellons Disease at Oklahoma State University's Center for Health Sciences in Tulsa, has performed extensive testing on Morgellons patient fibers and is "100% convinced Morgellons is a real disease." When he first heard of Morgellons, Wymore thought it would be simple to disprove its existence by examining the fibers. In 2005 he began asking patients, doctors and nurses to mail him samples. In the first week he got 10 packages from five states and was amazed by how similar the bundles of red, blue, back and translucent fibers looked. (He has since received more than a thousand fiber samples.) During the next nine months he systematically compared them to all sorts of textile fibers, hair and dust from clothing, carpets, medical supplies and fishing and hunting supplies, but he could find nothing similar. He showed the samples to OSU colleagues, who also were baffled.

Intrigued and at loss for answers, he eventually took the samples to the Tulsa Police Department Forensics Lab, where fiber experts Mark Boese and Ron Pogue ran a series of tests on two red and two blue fibers. "In three minutes they decided it was like nothing they had seen before," Wymore says. Comparing the Morgellons fibers to a database of more than 900 known compounds used in textiles, they found no match. Next they heated a blue fiber to more than 700 degrees, which darkened but did not destroy it. They determined the fibers were not fiberglass and did not match anything in their database of 90,000 organic compounds. OSU researchers have found tangled fibers underneath even healthy, unbroken skin in Morgellons patients, which Wymore says rules out the kind of wound contamination Meffert describes.

Wymore acknowledges that some people who claim to have Morgellons may be delusional, but he says all but one of the nearly 30 patients he and his colleagues at OSU have examined do, in fact, have the disease. Like Odom and so many others, he welcomes the CDC study. "My hope is thousands of physicians will go, 'I still don't believe this Morgellons crap, but the CDC is looking into it. I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt'."

By Jenny Hontz, Newsweek, February 7, 2008