Sunday, August 30, 2015

Lyme Disease May Linger for 1 in 5 Because of "Persisters" - Scientific American

This is big! We are gaining ground here. A new article in Scientific American explaining a possible cause of chronic Lyme disease could be a breakthrough in the effort to explain long-term post-treatment disability. It could certainly have ramifications in terms of increased private insurance coverage, qualifying for SSDI, and perhaps development of better diagnosis and treatment methods. 

Note that this study was done in-vitro (in the laboratory) not in-vivo (in the body). It will need to be replicated in the human body after the bacteria have invaded and compromised the immune system. However, this current new study is still an important finding, and the fact that it is appearing in well-respected and widely-read journal is significant.

The last couple of months have marked a real turnaround in media coverage and scientific findings about Lyme disease and tickborne infections. I've been following the news about Lyme for almost a decade. I do think we are reaching critical mass. Please send this link around. 


Lyme Disease May Linger for 1 in 5 Because of "Persisters"

A new theory about long-lasting Lyme disease symptoms suggests treatment options

Lyme disease is a truly intractable puzzle. Scientists used to consider the tick-borne infection easy to conquer: patients, diagnosed by their bull's-eye rash, could be cured with a weeks-long course of antibiotics. But in recent decades the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has realized that up to one in five Lyme patients exhibits persistent debilitating symptoms such as fatigue and pain, known as post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome, and no one understands why. The problem is growing. The incidence of Lyme in the U.S. has increased by about 70 percent over the past decade. Today experts estimate that at least 300,000 people in the U.S. are infected every year; in areas in the Northeast, more than half of adult black-legged ticks carry the Lyme bacterial spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi. Although the issue is far from settled, new research lends support to the controversial notion that the disease lingers because these bacteria evade antibiotics—and that timing drug treatments differently could eliminate some persistent infections.
These ideas stem from the observation of a few rogue bacterial cells. Kim Lewis, director of the antimicrobial discovery center at Northeastern University, and his colleagues grew B. burgdorferi in the laboratory, treated them with various antibiotics and found that whereas most of the bacteria died within the first day, a small percentage—called persister cells—managed to survive the drug onslaught. Scientists first discovered persister cells in 1944 in Staphylococcus aureus, the agent of staph infections, and Lewis and others have observed them in other species of bacteria, too—but the observations that B. burgdorferi also form persisters is new.
"These are some of the most robust persisters we've seen," says Lewis, whose results were published online in May inAntimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy. "Over days, in the presence of antibiotic, their numbers don't decline." Researchers at Johns Hopkins University similarly identified B. burgdorferi persister cells this past spring...

Read the rest of the story:

A colorized micrograph of a black-legged tick, which can carry up to five diseases.


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