New Treatments Now Show Promise to Make Lyme Disease Curable

lyme-disease-symptomAmanda Sherry (11 AM Micro) found an article from Science Daily, describing new research on Lyme Disease by researchers at Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health.

This is a summary from an article dated November 3, 2014, “New test shows promise in identifying new drugs to treat Lyme disease,” which is published in Science Daily.  Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have developed a test that will allow them to quickly and efficiently test current drugs to see if they will cure patients that still suffer from long-term effects they have after contracting Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.

Each year thousands of people come down with Lyme disease, a disease named after the town in Connecticut where it was first recognized in 1975, and are healed after a few weeks on antibiotics. However, it is estimated that about 20% of the patients that contact this disease are not cured and suffer completions after taking the standard drug regimen. They suffer fatigue, headaches and memory loss. And if the disease continues to persistent and is left untreated, it may lead to systemic problems such as neurologic and arthritis problems. Patients with Lyme disease are prescribed the antibiotic doxycycline or amoxicillin, which effectively treats those that are in the early stages of the infection; however, these antibiotics are ineffective for patients with the late-stage disease. It is very likely that these symptoms occur because the standard course of antibiotics does not kill all of the bacteria – it remains in the body, going untreated.

A research team from Johns Hopkins led by Ying Zhang, MD, PhD, modified a test typically used for counting DNA in samples in the lab, to determine how many Borrelia burgdorferi are alive and how many are dead after certain drugs were added to the bacteria. This test will stain the living bacteria green and the dead or dying bacteria red. While blood tests are used to confirm that a patient has Lyme disease, there is no definitive test to test for the bacteria that persist after taking the antibiotics.

This new test, called the SYBR Green I/PI assay enables researchers to analyze thousands of drugs at a time. And putting it into practice has yielded exciting results. The team has successfully identified a series of antibiotics that will treat the lingering Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria, known as persisters because they are persistent bacteria that appear immune to the current Lyme antibiotics. While the new drugs identified by the SYBR Green I/PI assay show success against these persisters in a lab environment, the next step would be to test this in animals and/or humans.

There are a significant number of people that contract Lyme disease each year and many that complain of long-term complications, due to these persisters still alive in their body. So, if the creation of this test turns out to be successful and they have identified antibiotics that will treat humans with Lyme disease symptoms months and even years after they have been told they are “cured” of the disease, then this would be a great achievement for the medical community. Many people would be grateful for their success.


About ycpmicro

My name is David Singleton, and I am an Associate Professor of Microbiology at York College of Pennsylvania. My main course is BIO230, a course taken by allied-health students at YCP. Views on this site are my own.

Posted on November 12, 2014, in Guest Post, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on New Treatments Now Show Promise to Make Lyme Disease Curable.

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