Lyme arthritis molecule found, providing treatment opportunity

A new study has identified a key molecule involved in Lyme arthritis which presents options for preventative therapies.

New research has identified a molecule which contributes to Lyme arthritis, a late stage symptom of Lyme disease. The study findings provide a pathway to develop preventative treatments for the condition.

The study, completed by researchers at Virginia Tech, US, found that as the Lyme-causing bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi multiplies, it sheds a cellular component called peptidoglycan in synovial fluid. As the bacteria genome does not have the appropriate proteins to recycle it back into the cell, the peptidoglycan produces an inflammatory response from the body. The molecule then persists in the synovial fluid and produces more inflammation as the body has no counter response.

“This discovery will help researchers improve diagnostic tests and may lead to new treatment options for patients suffering with Lyme arthritis,” said Brandon Jutras, the lead author on the study. “This is an important finding and we think that it has major implications for many manifestations of Lyme disease, not just Lyme arthritis.”

The Centers for Disease Control, US, approximates that 300,000 people are diagnosed with Lyme disease in the US every year.  

“We are interested in understanding everything associated with how patients respond, how we can prevent that response and how we could possibly intervene with blocking therapies or therapies that eliminate the molecule entirely,” Jutras continued.

The findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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