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Could this treatment prevent chronic Lyme disease?

0 2 years ago

About Kim Lewis

Our laboratory studies persister cells and uncultured bacteria. Persisters are dormant variants of regular cells which are tolerant to antibiotics and responsible for recalcitrance of biofilm infections. Using transcriptome analysis, cell sorting and whole-genome sequencing we are identifying genes responsible for persister formation. We identified a number of mechanisms for persister formation, and the first compound that kills them, acyldepsipeptide. Uncultured bacteria make up the majority of species on the planet, but do not grow in the lab. We developed a general method to grow these organisms by cultivation in their natural environment. In marine sediment, siderophores from neighbours serve as growth factors for uncultured bacteria. We have recently identified growth factors for uncultured bacteria from the human microbiome. We also use uncultured bacteria as a source for discovering new antibiotics.


Chronic Lyme disease has frustrated doctors and patients alike for years. The severe, lingering symptoms, such as chronic fatigue, muscle and joint pain, arthritis, or cognitive difficulties, have disrupted patients’ lives and treatments have been elusive.

But what if there was a way to prevent acute Lyme disease from progressing to the longer-term version?

That’s the premise that has driven Kim Lewis’ research. And now, the university distinguished professor of biology and director of the Antimicrobial Discovery Center at Northeastern says he has found a targeted treatment for acute Lyme disease that could do just that.

“Our educated guess is that it will prevent chronic Lyme,” Lewis says. Along with co-led authors Nadja Leimer, Xiaoqian Wu, and Yu Imai (all postdoctoral researchers at Northeastern), Lewis describes the revelation in a paper published Wednesday in the journal Cell.

The promise of this new treatment to prevent chronic Lyme arises from Lewis’ previous research into how acute Lyme disease progresses to the chronic version.

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