We are excited to announce our new course, “Combination Antibiotic Therapy for Treatment of Lyme Disease.” This course is designed for medical professionals seeking to deepen their understanding of Lyme disease treatment. It centers around the groundbreaking study conducted by Dr. Monica Embers, Director of Vector-Borne Disease Research at Tulane University. To provide a comprehensive overview, we invited Dr. Embers to answer key questions about her study on combination antibiotic therapy.
Q: Dr. Embers, could you explain the main goals of your study?
Dr. Embers: Certainly! Our primary goals were to distinguish between antibiotic tolerance and resistance in Lyme disease, demonstrate persistence via tolerance by the Lyme disease spirochete, and evaluate the efficacy of combination therapy versus monotherapy in both animal models and humans.
Q: What are the key findings regarding antibiotic tolerance and resistance?
Dr. Embers: We found that Lyme disease bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi, can become tolerant to antibiotics, meaning they can survive prolonged exposure without developing resistance. This tolerance contributes to the persistence of infection despite standard antibiotic treatment.
Q: How effective is combination therapy compared to monotherapy?
Dr. Embers: Our study showed that combination therapy – using multiple antibiotics – is more effective in targeting different forms of the Lyme disease bacterium, including dormant forms. This approach seems more successful in eradicating the infection compared to monotherapy.
Q: Can you discuss the prevalence of Post-Treatment Lyme Disease (PTLD) and its causes?
Dr. Embers: Yes, PTLD is a condition where symptoms persist even after antibiotic treatment. Our study suggests that the prevalence of PTLD might be higher than previously estimated. The causes could include inflammatory responses triggered by remnants of the bacteria, ongoing infection, or autoimmune responses.
Q: What insights did your research provide regarding the standard treatment guidelines for Lyme disease?
Dr. Embers: We found discrepancies between different guidelines, such as those from IDSA and ILADS, particularly concerning the duration and choice of antibiotics. Our research suggests that extended and combination therapies might be more effective, especially for patients with persistent symptoms.
Q: How do you see the future of Lyme disease treatment evolving based on your study?
Dr. Embers: Our study paves the way for more comprehensive treatment approaches, emphasizing the need for combination therapy. Future clinical trials should focus on these approaches to develop more effective and sustained treatments for Lyme disease, especially for those with PTLD.
Q: Lastly, what message do you have for patients currently struggling with Lyme disease?
Dr. Embers: It’s important to advocate for your health. If you’re experiencing persistent symptoms, seek medical advice and discuss the possibility of extended or combination antibiotic therapy. Stay informed and involved in your treatment process.
Thank you, Dr. Embers, for your insightful answers and for your dedication to Lyme disease research. Your study offers hope and a new direction in the fight against this challenging disease.
Watch the Course Here
The Invisible Education Initiative, funded by the Montecalvo Foundation, provides free, accredited Continuing Medical Education (CME) courses that focus on vector-borne and environmental illness within a One Health framework. These courses are available to clinicians and the public. To donate to this initiative and to learn about Invisible International, please go here.
Alruwaili, Y., Jacobs, M. B., Hasenkampf, N. R., Tardo, A. C., McDaniel, C. E., & Embers, M. E. (2023). Superior efficacy of combination antibiotic therapy versus monotherapy in a mouse model of Lyme disease. Frontiers in Microbiology, 14, 1293300. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2023.1293300