A new study from researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that a slow-growing variant form of Lyme bacteria caused severe symptoms in a mouse model. The slow-growing variant form of Lyme bacteria, according to the researchers, may account for the persistent symptoms seen in ten to twenty percent of Lyme patients that are not cured by the current Lyme antibiotic treatment.
The study, published March 28 in Discovery Medicine, also found that these “persister” Lyme bacteria were resistant to standard single-antibiotic Lyme treatments currently used to treat Lyme patients, while a three-antibiotic cocktail eradicated the Lyme bacteria in the mouse model.
For their study, the scientists isolated slow-growth forms of the Lyme bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi. They found that, compared to normal fast-growth forms, the slow-growing forms caused more severe arthritis-like symptoms and resisted standard antibiotic treatment in test tube as well as in a mouse model. The scientists found that a combination of three antibiotics — daptomycin, doxycycline and ceftriaxone — cleared the Lyme infection in the study mice. The scientists now hope to test the combination in people with persistent Lyme disease.
Dr. Ying Zhang, professor in the Bloomberg School’s department of molecular microbiology and immunology, is the paper’s senior author.Friday Letter Submission