Can We “Hack” Our Way to Some New Solutions for Lyme?

Reflections from a Promising Dialogue at the AAAS Conference in Washington, DC, November 17-18

by Lia Gaertner, BAL Science Committee

AAAS_Logo and magSome weeks ago, two members of the Bay Area Lyme Foundation Science Committee, Wendy Adams and Lia Gaertner, attended a leadership symposium in Washington, DC, sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and entitled, “Innovations-X: Rising Above the Politics for Progress in Science.”  The AAAS is the world’s largest general scientific society, with more than 125,000 individual and institutional members, and the publisher of Science magazine. Its mission is “to advance science, engineering, and innovation throughout the world for the benefit of all people.” At this event, there were three “wicked problems” discussed over two days: climate change, global/mobile health, and Lyme disease.  This blog, written by Lia Gaertner, will focus only on the Lyme portion of the conference.

Straight Talk about Biofilms: A New Answer for Treating Lyme Disease?

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.