Study Explores New Treatment for Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome


Researchers at Tulane University have made a breakthrough in treating the long-term neurological symptoms associated with Lyme disease, which persists in some patients even after antibiotic treatment. The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Immunology, explores the use of fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR) inhibitors to combat the lasting effects the bacterial infection.

Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is typically transmitted through tick bite. According to researchers, it can trigger a variety of symptoms, particularly impacting the central and peripheral nervous systems. While most people recover after antibiotic therapy, a subset of patients continues to suffer from conditions like memory loss, fatigue, and pain, known as post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome.

The Tulane team, led by Geetha Parthasarathy, PhD, an assistant professor of microbiology and immunology at the Tulane National Primate Research Center, investigated the use of fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR) inhibitors, drugs primarily researched in cancer treatment. In their experiments, researchers applied FGFR inhibitors to nerve tissues treated with live or inactivated Borrelia burgdorferi. The results showed a notable decrease in inflammatory markers and cell death.

"Our findings open the door to new research approaches that can help support patients suffering from the lasting effects of Lyme disease,” said Dr. Parthasarathy. “By focusing on the underlying inflammation that contributes to these symptoms, we hope to develop treatments that improve the quality of life for those afflicted by this debilitating condition."

Although more research is necessary, the researchers said these results highlight the potential of targeting FGFR pathways as an effective therapeutic strategy for managing persistent neuroinflammation in patients with post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome.