A newly identified mechanism seems to allow an effective treatment of Lyme disease. This could particularly help people whose disease cannot be successfully treated with antibiotics.
In a new study involving experts from the University of Massachusetts, it was found that inhibition of something called lactate dehydrogenase appears to be a promising mechanism for suppressing Borrelia growth. The study results can be found in the specialist journal Pathogens.
problems in the treatment of Lyme disease
Tick-borne Lyme disease is usually treated with antibiotics. In some of those affected, however, antibiotics do not have the desired treatment success and the disease takes a chronic course.
The researchers emphasize that there is therefore great interest in identifying new treatment options that can be used to inhibit the growth of the Lyme disease-causing bacterium (Borrelia burgdorferi). A medical therapy that actually inhibits the growth of cancer cells could be the solution here.
Link between metabolism and glycolysis
Tumor cells and the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi share an unusual property with regard to their growth. “It turned out that both cancer cells and Borrelia are exclusively dependent on glycolysis for their metabolism,” explains study author Professor Stephen Rich in a press release.
LDH inhibitors used to treat Lyme disease
Since glycolysis is influenced by a molecule called lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), the team tried to find out whether so-called LDH inhibitors could be effective in treating Lyme disease. Typically, LDH inhibitors are used as drug therapies for certain forms of cancer.
And in fact, in-vitro experiments showed a high level of effectiveness of the drugs. Various studied LDH inhibitors with different mechanisms of action and origins significantly affected the growth of Borrelia burgdorferi.
The researchers are therefore of the opinion that these LDH inhibitors can also represent promising candidates for the treatment of Borrelia infections in vivo.
Treatment also effective in babesiosis
In addition, drug treatment with LDH inhibitors could also be effective against another tick-borne disease called babesiosis, an infection similar to malaria, the research team said.
Since the studies so far have only been conducted in vitro, the results now need to be verified in vivo in mouse models and eventually in humans to confirm efficacy, Professor Rich adds. (as)