Biofilms that form in the human body are up to ten thousand times more resistant to antibiotics than free-floating bacteria, making them very difficult to treat medically. These biofilms are responsible for the extreme persistence of many difficult to treat illnesses like Legionnaire’s disease, Staphylococcus aureus (“Staph”), and infectious bronchitis, that can trouble patients with frustrating symptoms for years.
Some years ago researchers showed that biofilms might also be helping the Lyme-causing bacteria evade treatment.(1) These findings have excited Lyme researchers who have since been exploring various treatment strategies designed to target the entire bacterial colony. If successful, these treatments might bring long-needed relief to patients with late-stage or persistent Lyme disease where antibiotics have previously failed.
At Bay Area Lyme Foundation, we are also inspired by these discoveries and hopeful about the treatment options they may bring. Recently we invited Daina Zeng, a Senior Scientist at Agile Sciences, to talk about the work her team is doing adapting Agile’s proprietary non-toxic organic compounds to disperse these bacterial colonies (technology they have leveraged for medical, agricultural, and industrial uses). Her post follows.
(Note: Bay Area Lyme Foundation is a research and informational organization, not a medical entity. The Foundation does not advocate or endorse any particular treatment or clinical approach but is devoted to the sharing of information and the facilitation of new research in hopes that better diagnostics tools and therapies can be discovered. Please consult your physician or clinician for more information about specific or individual treatments.)
“In 2013, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute discovered that the Lyme-causing Borreliaburgdorferi organism is manganese-dependent, because it substitutes manganese where almost all other organisms use iron for survival. By using manganese, the Borrelia is assisted in evading the immune system, which typically responds to foreign pathogens by starving them of iron. Further, manganese is important for the human body (helping to monitor blood sugar levels, supporting production of collagen for tissue repair, and even helping the central nervous system to function properly) and there is no easy way to shut down the manganese supply to these organisms.
Bay Area Lyme Foundation Announces Grant Application for Two $100,000 Awards for Lyme Disease Research
‘Emerging Leader Award’ aims to attract new scientific talent to address scientific challenges of Lyme disease
Silicon Valley, California, October 5, 2015—The Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading national funder of Lyme disease research in the US, today announced a call for applications for two $100,000 Bay Area Lyme Foundation ‘Emerging Leader Award’ grants.These awards will be given to two promising scientists who embody the future of leadership in Lyme disease research in the US.The award recipients will be researchers in academia or the private sector who are currently at the post-doctoral level through the assistant Professor level, or equivalent, who have identified a defined approach to improve diagnostics or therapies for Lyme disease. Important criteria include demonstrated professional and scientific leadership in the biomedical sciences and a strong supporting scientific rationale for the project.Research efforts funded by the award are required to generate initial proof of concept within 12–18 months.
The following is a guest post from a local veterinarian and long-time SF Bay area resident, Dr. Michael Sterns, DVM. He shares a story about the recent diagnosis of a four-legged patient with Lyme disease. It is rare for the blood tests to come back definitive in dogs so this case is unusual but the lessons are clear and relevant for all dog owners here and around the country.
I thought people might be interested in a case we saw last week, and might truly see how an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure! Lyme disease in your dog is so easily prevented here in the SF Bay area, this story will surely leave you scratching your head. Happily, the dog in question will be OK – all because we caught it so early.
Why is it that Lyme disease is so little understood, so hard to diagnose, and so frustratingly difficult to get treated? Such were the questions discussed last night at the first of the new Bay Area Lyme Foundation Speaker Series talks.
2014 Emerging Leader Award recipient Jerome Bouquet, PhD, UCSF, began the program with a compelling overview of the history of Lyme disease and its pathology, highlighting some of the complicated attributes of the Lyme-causing spirochete and the manifestations of its infection. He touched on promising new technologies like the Tick Chip and the IBIS-developed Iridica, which use unbiased DNA amplification and multiplex assays with greater sensitivity (and more immediate results) than traditional methods. He also described promising developments in transcriptomics that have illustrated the lingering effects of the disease up to six months after treatment, and
The following is a guest post by a young author and Lyme patient who has turned her experience into a catalyst to help others find their voice and break the silence around long-term struggles with Lyme disease and other chronic illnesses. You can read more about Allie in our Faces of Lyme section and on her own website, sufferingthesilence.com.
Everyone knew about Lyme disease in the town where I grew up. “Easy to diagnose and simple to treat,” people said. “As long as you get the medicine in you, you’ll be fine.” As a kid, I was always hearing stories about someone who had recently been diagnosed with Lyme – parents, cousins, siblings, pets – and in almost every case, the stories I heard were short.
Guest blog by Dr. William St. Lawrence, Village Square Veterinarian, Portola Valley Village Square
May is Lyme Awareness month but it is only the beginning of peak season in the Bay Area for the troublesome nymphal blacklegged ticks that can carry Lyme disease. As we come to the final days of the month, it is not time to let down your guard.
In this guest post, popular local veterinarian Dr. William St. Lawrence shares some important facts about keeping you and your pets safe for the rest of this spring and early summer.
The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) and the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) are jointly developing a systematic review and guideline on treatment of Lyme disease.
The 30-day open Public Comment period on the Lyme Disease Guideline Project Plan started March 8 through April 9.During the Public Comment period, anyone may comment on any aspect of the Plan, including the methodology and development process utilized as well as adherence to the IOM standards. Please see here for more details.
Common Allergy Medication May Be Effective In Starving and Killing the Bacteria That Causes Lyme Disease According to New Study
Study Offers Insights Into Metabolic Activity of Borrelia burgdorferi and May Lead to First Targeted Therapy for Lyme Disease
Portola Valley, CA — A new study funded by the Bay Area Lyme Foundation and conducted by Stanford School of Medicine researchers shows that loratadine, which is a common antihistamine frequently taken to treat allergy symptoms, may be able to help kill Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria associated with Lyme disease. Lyme disease is a potentially debilitating condition with 300,000 new cases in the US each year. The study was published in the Open Access publication Drug Design, Development and Therapy.
“Lyme is a debilitating illness for which diagnosis is critical for cure.” –Dr. Jerome Bouquet
Jerome Bouquet, PhD, was recognized in May 2014 as an Emerging Leader in the field of Lyme research. This award recognizes creative ingenuity and novel approaches for the development of better diagnostics and treatment for Lyme disease. The award also carries a $100,000 project grant to fund a new research initiative. Here, Dr. Bouquet talks about his work in the field and his funded project, “Development of a Host Biomarker Assay for the Diagnosis of Acute and Post-Treatment Lyme Disease.”
Q: Earlier this year, you were recognized by Bay Area Lyme Foundation as one of the Emerging Leaders in the field of Lyme disease research.Tell us about your project, what do you hope to accomplish?
A:The project emerged as a result of (1) the lack of sensitive diagnostics for Lyme disease; and (2) the expertise of our laboratory in next generation sequencing. We are developing the unbiased detection of a large number of pathogens. But Lyme disease is trickier, because Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria responsible for the disease, is only transiently present in the blood at low titer. So instead of looking for the pathogen, we are examining the human host at a cellular level. How do immune cells respond to the infection and how can we decode and measure their response? That’s what transcriptome profiling is.