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Novel Lyme disease therapy tested
In addition to the so-called early summer meningoencephalitis (TBE), Lyme disease is one of the health-threatening consequences of tick bites. Researchers have now investigated a new method with which Lyme disease can be treated much more efficiently than before: liquid antibiotic gel.
Usually, the infectious disease Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics therapy lasting several weeks after a corresponding diagnosis. If the medication does not lead to successful treatment, the infectious disease threatens to go into a chronic stage. In addition, antibiotic therapy itself can have significant side effects. For this reason, researchers have been looking for methods that improve the efficiency of treatment while reducing the risk of side effects. Scientists led by the veterinary bacteriologist Professor Reinhard Straubinger from the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich have now developed a new gel made from the antibiotic azithromycin and successfully tested it in initial tests.
Impending side effects of previous antibiotic therapy
The tick-borne infectious disease borreliosis can move relatively quickly into a chronic stage of the disease, in which the pathogens multiply in the body, infect numerous other organs and cause serious health problems. According to the experts, the typical symptoms of chronic Lyme disease are, for example, changing joint pain, visual disturbances, disturbances of the sense of touch and heart problems. In addition, spinal cord diseases, neuritis and other neuronal disorders are possible consequences of a Lyme disease infection. Once the disease has reached a chronic stage, therapeutic treatment is extremely difficult and is rarely successful. Early diagnosis is therefore all the more important. However, the symptoms in the initial stages of the disease are often relatively unspecific. Only the widening reddish rash around the puncture wound is considered one of the easily recognizable Lyme disease characteristics. However, this is not registered in all those affected and the other flu-like symptoms such as fatigue, fever, headache, muscle and joint pain often do not raise any suspicion of a Lyme disease infection.
The cause of borreliosis is the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and related types of bacteria that ticks release into the human body during the sucking process. Since, according to experts in Western Europe, between 30 and 50 percent of ticks carry the disease-causing bacteria, the risk of infection after a tick bite should not be underestimated. If Lyme disease is suspected, patients are usually given antibiotic therapy for several weeks, with the active ingredient often being administered intravenously. This increases the risk of side effects, according to the Munich researchers led by Professor Reinhard Straubinger. In addition, if a Lyme disease is suspected, treatment often has to be started without direct evidence of the pathogen, since the bacteria cannot usually be detected immediately after the tick bite by means of a blood test.
Significant advantages of the new Lyme disease therapy
The method developed by the Munich researchers is based on a liquid antibiotic gel that is applied directly to the puncture wound using a plaster. In animal experiments, Professor Reinhard Straubinger and colleagues were able to prove that the patches with the liquid antibiotic gel virtually nipped an infection with Borrelia in the bud. Her studies have already progressed so far that the next step will be to test the novel Lyme disease therapy on infected people in a phase III study, the scientists at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich explained. "In our approach, the antibiotic is applied directly to the puncture site via a transparent, self-adhesive plaster" and since "there is very little antibiotic, the effect remains locally limited," explained Prof. Straubinger. Due to the limited amount and range of active ingredients, there are hardly any side effects, the Munich researcher emphasized the advantages of the new Lyme disease therapy. (fp)
Also read about Lyme disease:
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Health: The time of ticks has started
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TBE and Lyme disease from tick bites
Prevention: Don't panic about ticks
Health: No tick vaccination
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