There is exciting, hopeful news out of Northeastern University. Researchers there have been working on finding out why Lyme disease doesn’t respond to antibiotics, and what can be done about it.
What they found is that the bacterium that causes Lyme disease contains persister cells. As the name implies, these cells can persist, or survive, normal courses of antibiotics, even strong, long-term doses. These cells are drug-tolerant, dormant variants of regular cells and have been found in other chronic infections.
Who the Research Could Help
While some people who have been bitten by an infected tick get successful treatment right away, others—approximately 10 to 20 percent of patients—have received antibiotic treatment without success. These sufferers continue to have the symptoms of Lyme disease. Categorized as having Post-treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome, or chronic Lyme disease, this segment of the population is plagued with arthritis, muscle pain, fatigue, and neurological problems.
Researchers believe that in these people, the persister cells have made traditional antibiotic treatments ineffective. With the cells identified, researchers could move onto what chronic Lyme disease sufferers have been waiting for: a cure.
What This Means for the Treatment of Lyme Disease
Researchers tracked two different methods for destroying the persister cells and the infection. One treatment used an anti-cancer drug called Mitomycin C. While this destroyed the bacteria with no problem whatsoever, this drug has a high level of toxicity and because of this it isn’t recommended in the treatment of Lyme disease.
The second carries more hope. During this test the researchers applied an antibiotic with the pulse-dosing technique. With this technique, an initial round of antibiotic was introduced. During this first round, the growing cells were killed, but not the dormant persisters. The researchers then washed away the antibiotic, allowing the persisters to become active. But before they began reproducing, the researchers applied another round of antibiotics. It took four rounds of antibiotics, but after these rounds, the persisters were eliminated.
Of course, these cells and antibiotics were in a test tube, not a human body. However, researchers are hopeful that a similar treatment could be offered to patients with chronic Lyme disease and other diseases and infections where the resister cells are present.
Would You Try the New Treatment Option for Lyme Disease?
If so, please comment below. Share your experience with Lyme disease and any treatment you’ve undergone to help. Have they helped? Done more damage than good? In this space those who are suffering from the disease in New England can get together, share their stories, and hopefully find a treatment that worked for them.