Research Funded by Bay Area Lyme Foundation Identifies New Investigational Therapy Regimen Capable of Irreversibly Damaging Lyme Bacteria in Laboratory Tests 

Tim Haystead, PhD

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Research Funded by Bay Area Lyme Foundation Identifies New Investigational Therapy Regimen Capable of Irreversibly Damaging Lyme Bacteria in Laboratory Tests  

Inspired by research that targets cancer tumors, these new findings in Lyme could also lead to novel R&D strategies for other diseases 

PORTOLA VALLEY, Calif. November 1, 2023—Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the US, today announced the development of a potential new drug, HS-291, that targets and destroys Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme disease. Published in the peer-reviewed journal Cell Chemical Biology, this laboratory study represents a novel paradigm shift for anti-microbial treatment research as it is the first to target and inhibit Borrelia burgdorferi HtpG (high temperature protein G), a specific type of enzyme within the bacteria that causes Lyme disease— a condition affecting nearly 500,000 new patients annually. The research was conducted at Duke University School of Medicine, with collaboration from University of North Carolina, Tulane University, and Stanford University, and HS-291 is currently in preclinical stage testing at UC Davis. 

“As Lyme disease is currently treated with broad spectrum antibiotics and there are no targeted treatments, we are particularly excited about this discovery, and hopeful that our novel Lyme disease therapeutic HS-291 will specifically destroy the Lyme bacterium without off-target effects or antibiotic resistance,” said Timothy Haystead, PhD, professor of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology, Duke University School of Medicine, Bay Area Lyme Foundation grantee, and co-lead author. “This research has been an incredible opportunity to leverage knowledge from oncology to Lyme disease in order to design an investigational therapeutic that could one day benefit hundreds of thousands of patients with Lyme.” 

This new discovery has implications beyond Lyme disease as it demonstrates that using the drug HS-291 to deliver cellular toxins to HtpG, a type of non-essential enzyme that assists the folding or unfolding of large and complex proteins, greatly expands what can be considered druggable within any pathogen and opens a whole new area of infectious disease research.  

Stealth Invader: Unveiling Lyme’s Hidden Past

Kris Newby

Ticktective Podcast Transcript

 

In this interview, author/filmmaker, Kris Newby, explains the murky history behind the US government’s involvement with Lyme disease and continued efforts to hide how the military’s bioweapons programs caused the spread of tick-borne pathogens. She explains how alliances between pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, university-based research teams, and the government led to inaccurate testing and denials of care, causing untold suffering to millions. Kris draws parallels between Long Covid and chronic Lyme and shines a light on how we are being dismissed, misinformed, and deliberately misled by the very institutions that should be protecting us.

Under Our SkinDana Parish: I’m so excited to welcome Kris Newby. Kris is an award-winning medical science writer and a senior producer of the Lyme documentary Under Our Skin, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and was a 2010 Oscar Semifinalist. Her book Bitten: The Secret History of Lyme Disease and Biological Weapons has won three international book awards. I loved your book so much for journalism and narrative nonfiction. Kris has two engineering degrees and has worked as a science technology writer for Stanford Medical School, Apple Computer, and other Silicon Valley companies. Welcome Kris! 

Kris Newby: Thanks Dana, and thanks for having me on the podcast. 

Dana Parish: I’m so excited because you are one of the greatest historians of Lyme and you were so helpful to Steve Phillips and me when we wrote our book, Chronic. We loved your book. And Under Our Skin is the film that informed my view of what was really happening with Lyme disease. You’ve been working on Lyme education for 20 years. You’ve done a film, you’ve written a great book, you’ve published articles, you’ve worked in nonprofits, and you recovered from your own tick-borne diseases. How big is the Lyme problem? 

Kris Newby: Ginormous and growing. The CDC’s latest estimate is half a million new cases of Lyme disease a year, and I’m sure everyone remembers when Covid hit a half a million. It was like, “Oh no, we have a problem here.” But for some reason, Lyme disease hasn’t bubbled up as a problem. 500,000 cases a year is an average of 1,300 a day. And, obviously, that mostly happened in the summer, so it’s huge. I am often frustrated because I’ve been working in this field for 20 years and not much has gotten better. The disease—this tick-borne disease—if it’s caught early, it can be cured. But we have a test that isn’t reliable in the first month, and later on it’s no better than a coin flip. About 10-30% of the people who are treated with a recommended treatment—according to what study you read—go on to become chronically ill. And the establishment has invested very little in new treatment protocols. I did an analysis with another Bay Area Lyme person of the NIH grants for the last five years, and less than 1% of the Lyme disease NIH budget is spent on treatments

Infectious Minds: Unraveling the Link Between Infections & Psychiatric Disorders

Robert Bransfield, MD

Ticktective Podcast Transcript

 

In this interview, psychiatrist Dr. Robert Bransfield explains the links between neuropsychiatric disorders and infections. He recounts his successes treating patients who repeatedly fail to respond to conventional interventions. Dr. Bransfield describes how clinical diagnoses of infection, along with correct administration and interpretation of testing, plus treating patients with antibiotics can, in many cases, lead to an abatement of a variety of psychiatric disorders, from psychosis to depression and anxiety. He also explores the connection between tick-borne diseases in maternal-fetal transfer of infections and the rise in autism in children.

Note: This interview has been edited for clarity. Bibliography and references are posted below.

 

“What are people in the future going to say about the Lyme crisis? I’m sure this will be judged by history as a great failure of our healthcare system, that we didn’t move quickly enough with this, and that people were holding back progress.”

—Dr. Robert Bransfield

Dana Parish: Hi, I am Dana Parish, and I am hosting the Ticktective podcast on behalf of Bay Area Lyme Foundation. I am here today with a wonderful psychiatrist, Dr. Robert C. Bransfield, MD, DLF APA. He is a graduate of Rutgers College and George Washington University School of Medicine. He completed his psychiatric residency training at Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital. He’s board certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in psychiatry and is a distinguished life fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. He’s a clinical associate professor of Psychiatry at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine, and he is well published in the peer reviewed literature. Welcome Dr. Bransfield. Thank you so much for talking to me today. How are you?

Robert Bransfield: Thank you for inviting me.

Dana Parish: It’s my pleasure. I’ve learned so much from you over the years about microbes and mental illness. You’ve blown my mind a million times and I cannot wait to share your knowledge today with everybody who’s going to watch and listen to this podcast. So, my first question is, does psychiatry pay enough attention and does medicine pay enough attention to microbes in infections and pathogens in mental illness? And if not, what is going on with the brain when we get neurologic infections?

Brain InfectionRobert Bransfield: Well, not enough. If you look at the old views of what caused psychiatric issues, it was thought to be demonic possession. Then we blamed our mothers, and then we blamed serotonin. It doesn’t quite make sense (to people) that there’s something that causes psychiatric illness. But these illnesses don’t just come out of nowhere. 

The problem is that nothing in the known universe for its size is more complex than the human brain. So, understanding the pathophysiology of the human brain is very challenging, especially the part involving psychiatric illness. That is much more complicated than general neurological illness where the circuits are not as complex as the circuits that impact psychiatric functioning. So, this causes a problem. When we look at all the possibilities, there are many things that contribute to mental illness—microbes are just one of them. But I think they are a very significant one and when you look long and hard enough, this does explain many psychiatric illnesses. 

Bay Area Lyme Ambassador Shares Her Story

Guest Blog by Jessica Devine

 

Bay Area Lyme Foundation is one of the first sources of information I found when I was finally diagnosed.  I realized through the years that only a few resources could always be relied upon for accurate information based on scientific research. I also feel connected to BAL because I was bit in California by a tick that carried Lyme, Babesia, Bartonella, Erhlichia, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and more. I have always trusted their information for over a decade now. What they do and continue to do to help this community is something I will always be grateful for.

Jessica Devine and her family
Jessica Devine and her family

Creating an uplifting space for Lyme patients has been my dream since my first TV interview when a local station asked me to come on and share my story. Once on camera, I was filled with passion when given the chance to speak about my story, the injustices of Lyme disease treatment and getting a late diagnosis.

From there, people started reaching out to me needing help. I had kind of lost myself in my illness and slowly, through advocacy work, I gained a feeling that I can only describe as finding your true purpose. When I help someone, I have peace.

I found groups to be depressing and I knew the only way to have the group that best served a patient in the ways I needed was to create it myself. I wanted a solution based group that required all of its members to act with kindness. Alongside my own Lyme doctor’s methods, member polls and an accumulation of top resources, I finally was able to create the first Lyme Disease and Co-Infections Directory to cover almost any topic related to these diseases. An easy way for a patient to find the information quickly and learn. I feel the more we understand about these diseases, why we have the symptoms we have and how to help ourselves heal, we become more hopeful and empowered.

The Long and Winding Road: The Story of Bay Area Lyme’s Multi-Year Quest to Identify Treatments for Lyme Patients

West Coast Clinical Trial Story

BAL Leading the Way Series

 

“The opening of a network of Lyme disease clinics is the culmination of many years of tireless work and the vision of a small group of determined women over 10 years ago. We are extremely optimistic that the Lyme Clinical Trials Network will accelerate the development of new treatments for patients with post-treatment and persistent Lyme disease.”

—Linda Giampa, Executive Director, Bay Area Lyme Foundation

 

When Bay Area Lyme Foundation (BAL) was formed a decade ago, its mission was clear: to make Lyme disease easy to diagnose and simple to cure. “And that’s still our goal,” emphasizes BAL co-founder Bonnie Crater, as she reflects on the last 10 years. However, appreciating the magnitude of the Foundation’s audacious mission requires an understanding of two complex—yet inextricably linked—medical domains: the world of diagnostics, and the world of therapeutics.

Bonnie Crater
Bay Area Lyme Co-Founder Bonnie Crater

The ‘Holy Grail’ for Lyme disease is an accurate diagnostic test—or better yet a suite of specifically designed tests for the different stages of acute and persistent Lyme disease. Although great strides are being made in understanding the infection and the disease’s progression, the ‘silver bullet’ of accurate diagnostic tests continues to elude us. The current diagnostics for acute Lyme (a two-step process with an ELISA either followed by a Western blot or another ELISA) are fraught with problems. These tests may miss up to 70% of acute Lyme cases or deliver false negative results. They are unreliable for detecting acute Lyme and are ineffective indicators for anyone with a persistent/chronic tick-borne infection. (Watch or listen to our Ticktective with Brandon Jutras, PhD, to learn why the current direct detection tests for Lyme are so inaccurate.)

Add to this the fact that FDA-approved therapeutics—or ‘cures’—have not evolved much in 10 years either and foment controversy. A quick internet search on ‘How to treat Lyme disease’ will offer information from the IDSA (Infectious Diseases Society of America) stating that a 10-14-day course of oral antibiotics, such as amoxicillin or doxycycline, will do the job for someone with an EM (Erythema migrans) rash who has early/acute Lyme. But anyone who has had Lyme disease, been treated, and then experienced a continuation of symptoms knows that this recommended course of intervention often fails to clear the infection, leaving some persistent Lyme patients in limbo, and health care providers without an approved treatment protocol. Simply put, this is the continuing underlying treacherous terrain of Lyme, throwing up challenges in both diagnostics and therapeutics.

ALL ABOUT KIDS WITH LYME, PANS, MOLD ILLNESS

DAna Parish interviews Dr Charlotte Mao

Ticktective Podcast Transcript

 

Charlotte Mao, MDIn this conversation between Ticktective™ host Dana Parish and Harvard-trained pediatric infectious diseases specialist Charlotte Mao, MD, the discussion focuses on how Dr. Mao gradually moved away from the narrow view of Lyme disease and began to champion understanding and therapeutics for children suffering from persistent Lyme. They explore tick-borne diseases and their connection to other chronic illnesses that are often misunderstood and misdiagnosed by conventional medicine. Note: This transcribed podcast has been edited for clarity.

Dana Parish: Welcome to the Ticktective Podcast, a program of the Bay Area Lyme Foundation, where our mission is to make Lyme disease easy to diagnose, and simple to cure. I’m your guest host today, Dana Parish. I’m the co-author of the book Chronic, and I’m on the advisory board of Bay Area Lyme Foundation. This program offers insightful interviews with clinicians, scientists, patients, and other interesting people. We’re a non-profit foundation based in Silicon Valley, and thanks to a generous grant that covers a hundred percent of our overhead, all of your donations go directly to our research and our prevention programs. For more information about Lyme disease, please visit us at bayarealyme.org.

Dana Parish: Hi I’m so excited to guest host the Ticktective podcast today. I want to introduce you to a very dear friend of mine, one of the most brilliant, curious, interesting, funny, and dearest people. Please welcome Dr. Charlotte Mao. She is a pediatric infectious diseases physician with a special focus on Lyme disease and associated infections. She received her medical degree at Harvard Medical School and did her pediatric and infectious diseases training at Boston Children’s Hospital. The first 25 years of her career were focused primarily on pediatric HIV clinical care and clinical research, serving as a site co-investigator for numerous NIH funded multi-center pediatric HIV clinical trials at Boston Children’s Hospital. She turned her focus to Lyme and associated diseases after gaining extensive clinical experience with pediatric Lyme patients in Boston children’s hospital’s referring ID clinic. Then she joined the Pediatric Infectious Disease Department at Mass General Hospital and Spaulding Rehab Hospital Dean Center for Tick-borne Illness, where she was the pediatric IG specialist in a multidisciplinary clinic for children with complex Lyme disease. She is currently curriculum director for Invisible International. She most recently served on a tick-borne disease working group subcommittee for prevention and treatment and co-organized a Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Banbury Conference on perinatal transmission of Lyme Disease. She’s also on the Bay Area Lyme Foundation’s Science Committee. Welcome, Charlotte. It’s so great to see you!

National Lyme Clinical Trials Network Gains Its First West Coast Center, Thanks to $1M+ Donation from Bay Area Lyme Foundation

Lyme Clinical Trials Network

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

National Lyme Clinical Trials Network Gains Its First West Coast Center, Thanks to $1M+ Donation from Bay Area Lyme Foundation

The University of California San Francisco Lyme Clinical Trials Center will support innovative clinical trials to develop treatments for patients with persistent Lyme disease

Portola Valley, CA, March 09, 2023—Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the US, announces it has awarded more than $1M to the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) for the development of a Lyme Clinical Trials Center. This new center will become the first West Coast site of the Lyme Clinical Trials Network. The Network aims to address the need for high quality, innovative clinical trials to develop evidence-based treatments for patients with persistent Lyme symptoms following initial antibiotic treatment—a population that has grown to more than two million Americans and continues to increase.

“The founding of the UCSF Lyme Clinical Trials Center provides a unique opportunity for Lyme patients to participate in the next generation of therapeutic trials to combat this devastating disease,” said Charles Chiu, MD, PhD, of the University of California San Francisco who will lead the UCSF Lyme Clinical Trials Center. “Very few clinical trials have been initiated to investigate therapeutic solutions to address persistent symptoms of Lyme disease, and we hope to change this.” 

UCSF will join the Lyme Clinical Trials Network led by Columbia University, which includes Children’s National Hospital (part of the National Institutes of Health), and Johns Hopkins University. This important effort is funded by the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation.

Treating Complex Chronic Diseases: Novel Therapeutic Options for Lyme Patients

Bay Area Lyme Speaker Series with Steven Harris

BAL Happenings Series

 

Bay Area Lyme Speaker Series San Jose 2022
Dr Steven Harris speaking at the Bay Area Lyme Speaker Series in San Jose, September 29, 2022

Dr. Steven Harris, a physician specializing in Lyme at Pacific Frontier Medical, was guest speaker as part of our Distinguished Speaker Series. His presentation on the complexity of tick-borne diseases is transcribed below to share his invaluable insights into novel treatment options for those living with chronic/persistent Lyme and other intractable infections that severely curtail patients’ quality of life, bringing hope and restoring health to many. Note: This transcribed presentation has been edited for clarity.

What is “Precision Medicine”?

“The concept of precision medicine, which is a growing area, is where we look at an individual and try to create a tailored plan for that person. I think many doctors wish that we could have a ‘cookbook’ approach to medicine that would work for our patients. But unfortunately, that approach doesn’t work. Luckily, here in the San Francisco Bay Area, there are doctors offering precision medicine including Dr. Sunjya Schweig in Berkeley, Dr. Christine Green, with us at Pacific Frontier Medical, and Dr. Eric Gordon, at Gordon Medical Associates in Marin and others. And thankfully, we have Stanford and UCSF (our local medical centers) that we work peripherally with. In addition, the Open Medicine Foundation is making great strides in understanding illness and Dr. Mike Snyder’s group at Stanford who are working on multi omics for chronic fatigue that track an individual patient’s data.

Mike Snyder, PhD
Mike Snyder, PhD, Stanford University

“These doctors are working in their own fields, not necessarily just tick-borne diseases, but our work overlaps. For example, the Snyder Lab multi-omic study involves genomics, epigenomics, metabolomics, where they are looking at tons of data and assimilating a lot of this different data to try to create treatment plans that work for the individual, because of the fact that a ‘cookbook’ approach doesn’t work for this group of chronic complex patients. For example, we look at someone’s multi-ome and the parts that make them up, including their microbiome, epigenome among many others, which is becoming a bigger and more exciting field. One of the practical aspects we try to determine is how to address an individual’s level of inflammation, the diversity of their personal bacterial flora, and how to help compensate for any deficiencies—or over abundances—that help contribute to disease.

Fueling the Research Engine

Lyme Disease Biobank

BAL Leading the Way Series

 

How a chance meeting and the harnessing of big data led to a research initiative that’s finding answers in Lyme and tick-borne disease

Many different groups comprise the Lyme disease community including patients, their families, healthcare providers, researchers and nonprofit organizations. These nonprofit organizations and foundations may differ in size, structure, fiscal basis, focus and approach, but in one important aspect they are united: the search for answers.

This search for answers in the realm of Lyme and tick-borne diseases has served as a unifying driver, even when dissent and controversy has sometimes fragmented the Lyme community.  And despite what seems to be a constant uphill battle for recognition and legitimacy of Lyme and tick-borne infections, many believe that we’re on the brink of major breakthroughs to help patients and doctors unlock the medical mysteries that make these infectious diseases so confounding. Two people cautiously optimistic about where we are in the search for answers about Lyme are Liz Horn, PhD, MBI, Principal Investigator, Lyme Disease Biobank, and Lorraine Johnson, JD, MBA, Chief Executive Officer, LymeDisease.org and Principal Investigator MyLymeData.

The Future of Lyme Diagnostics: How Wearable Technology May Lead to Fast, Accurate and Reliable Lyme Disease Detection

Mike Snyder PhD Wearables Project

BAL Leading the Way Series

 

Remember when we used to watch Captain Kirk talk into his chirping communicator and order Scotty to beam him up? And what about that handy medical scanner the size of a pack of cards that Dr. McCoy waved around to assess and diagnose his patients in the starship’s sick bay? We may now all have smartphones to stay in constant touch with each other, but outside of a state-of-the-art hospital with multi-million-dollar scanners and MRI machines, we are still some years away from the Star Fleet’s instantaneous medical technology, right? 

Wrong.

Advances in our ability to gather real-time information on the human body are poised to revolutionize not just how we diagnose diseases, but make dramatic, life-altering, positive impacts on the critical timeline for diagnosis and treatment by detecting a disease event before symptoms occur. And Bay Area Lyme is leading the way by investing in research that will further illuminate our understanding of how—in real time—a Lyme infection impacts the human body through the data collected by wearable technologies.