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Have We Finally Found an Effective Defense Against Lyme Disease?

A new treatment may block transmission 85 percent of the time.

By Pamela WeintraubJuly 9, 2008 5:00 AM


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With patients complaining that standard antibiotic treatment can leave lingering symptoms, Lyme disease has long been mired in controversy. Now a new, long-acting preparation of the antibiotic doxycycline may help prevent Lyme and another tickborne infection.

Researchers at New York Medical College (NYMC) had tried using doxycycline as a Lyme preventive, reporting that a single oral dose could block transmission 85 percent of the time. But immunologist Nordin Zeidner, chief of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Vector-Host Laboratory in Fort Collins, Colorado, had doubts, and after retesting the technique found a success rate of just 20 to 30 percent in mice.

Zeidner thought the problem was the single oral dose of the antibiotic, so he asked a Fort Collins company, QLT, to develop a form of injectable doxy that could be sustained in the body for 19 days. Trying it on mice, Zeidner found that 100 percent were protected from Lyme as well as anaplasmosis. Now he plans to study the approach in humans and hopes to develop a doxy skin patch that will last for an entire tick season.

Gary Wormser, an author of the NYMC study, meanwhile, counters that single-dose doxy should be more effective in humans than in mice because it stays in our blood longer.

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