Persistence of Borrelia burgdorferi in Rhesus Macaques Following Antibiotic Treatment of Disseminated Infection
Posted by membersla on 02 Mar 2012 at 15:19 GMT
We recently published this article entitled “Persistence of Borrelia burgdorferi in Rhesus Macaques Following Antibiotic Treatment of Disseminated Infection.” The subject and content of this work may be viewed very divergently, given the controversy surrounding Lyme disease treatment. Specifically, the phenomenon of post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome and its cause (s) have been viewed with much contention.
Our work, which was funded by several grants from the National Institutes of Health, is composed of two major experiments. Experiment 1 entailed a very comprehensive and time-consuming study that indicated the possibility that spirochetes could persist after antibiotic treatment, but only nucleic acid or antigen of these bacteria were detected, leaving open the question of persistence by intact organisms. Experiment 2 was intended to answer that question. The authors elected to publish these 2 studies together, as they mutually enhance the validity and scientific merit of the work.
In our study, we provide evidence demonstrating the post-treatment persistence of the B. burgdorferi spirochete that has been reported previously in a mouse model. We further demonstrate through multiple detection methods that intact spirochetes can survive antibiotic treatment in a nonhuman primate host. It is not our intent to present data in opposition of current antibiotic treatment regimens for humans, but rather to report what we believe to be objective, well-performed experiments on antibiotic efficacy in a nonhuman primate model.
These data are by no means a referendum on long-term antibiotic therapy, nor should they serve to oppose current IDSA guidelines for the treatment of Lyme disease. From the medical standpoint, these results may or may not warrant testing of additional treatments or regimens. This depends heavily on the results of further inquiry as to the duration of persistence, the viability and phenotype of persistent organisms, and the answer to the key question of whether persisters are pathogenic. Current practices could only be challenged by solid proof of better treatment options; these are currently not available.
For several decades, basic scientists and medical doctors have collaborated to understand and improve Lyme disease treatment, diagnosis and prevention. As we proceed with further inquiry into the phenomenon of PTLDS, these collaborations are essential. The continued discussion, commentary and debate will additionally be of benefit when conducted without bias.
Source Link: http://www.plosone.org/annotation/listThread.action?inReplyTo=info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fannotation%2Fbe820481-edcb-457e-8d20-c0a904b91607&root=info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fannotation%2Fbe820481-edcb-457e-8d20-c0a904b91607
Bolded emphasis mine.
My comments? I could have predicted that such a statement would be issued. The researchers in question are making a string of inquiries where they must be certain of the outcome and not make a statement about the nature of Lyme disease prematurely - even if the chronic infection model of Lyme disease makes sense to many people and is the experience which a number of patients report having.
It comes as a disappointment to many patients that there is a specific statement here against long term antibiotic treatment, with the explicit statement that the results of this study are not intended to oppose current IDSA treatment guidelines. However, it is also stated that "these results may or may not warrant testing of additional treatments or regimens". The future regarding changes in antibiotic usage is uncertain.
Statements above and within the original study reflect a certain amount of uncertainty.
And in order for this team to avoid becoming cargo cult scientists, they must be willing to look at all the possible causes for persisting symptoms. They must be willing to challenge themselves and question the strength of their suspicions and poke holes at their assumptions. This must be done not only to assure them they are on the right track - but to be prepared to answer questions coming from any critics.
They may repeat their experiments to confirm their findings and conduct another study where tick inoculation is used and not needle inoculation. A study is needed that examines what would happen in an actual case of infection under conditions found in nature - not in a lab. This experiment would not only involve the use of ceftriaxone and doxcycline - but use infected ticks on hosts and involve the complex immune interactions that take place after a tick infection which do not occur the same way as they would after injection with a bacteria-laiden needle.
I'm looking forward to more research from Embers et al. That they close their statement with the phrase, "The continued discussion, commentary and debate will additionally be of benefit when conducted without bias," means a lot to me. It indicates to me that they are seeking the truth - which is something I can get behind. I only hope they find it soon.
Image credit: Morphology of Borrelia burgdorferi by Jeffrey Nelson, Microbe Library. Use under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
This work by Camp Other is licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.