Protein in Lyme Disease May Aid in Fighting Tick-Borne Diseases


Lyme diseaseAn unpleasant disease of ticks. the solution is in our sweat.

New hope in the fight against Lyme disease, a tick-borne infection. Protein can offer protection.

  • Ticks can transmit Lyme disease, among other things.
  • Now researchers have identified a protein that may offer some protection against it.
  • This protein is found in human sweat.

People who are bitten by ticks can contract Lyme disease. Scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of Helsinki have found that human sweat contains a protein that inhibits the growth of Lyme disease-causing bacteria.

Symptoms can include fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle pain, joint pain, and swollen lymph nodes or skin rash, and if left untreated, facial paralysis, heart arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat, nerve pain, and inflammation of the brain and spinal cord.

Hope for therapy

A third of the population carries a genetic version of this protein, according to research published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications.

“This protein may provide some protection against Lyme disease, and we believe there are real implications for prevention and possibly treatment based on this protein,” said Michal Caspi Tal, a senior researcher in MIT’s Department of Biological Engineering. and one of the lead authors of the study. in the statement.

In Switzerland, ticks transmit these diseases

Swiss ticks are known to transmit Lyme disease and tick-borne encephalitis (TBE). But according to a study by Swiss researchers, that’s only the tip of the iceberg. A team led by Patricia Schlagenhauf from the University of Zurich reports in the journal New Microbes and New Infections about other diseases that can be spread by ticks in this country: so-called rickettsioses, in people who have been proven to have been bitten by ticks. Its possible symptoms are fever and headache. They also encountered the pathogen Anaplasma phagocytophilum, which causes anaplasmosis. This disease can also cause muscle aches and headaches, as well as fever and nausea. “We were surprised there were so many,” Keystone-SDA news agency quoted Schlagenhauf as saying.

It has been known for several years that local ticks can also transmit Alonshan virus.

The protein inhibits the growth of bacteria

Scientists analyzed the DNA and medical records of 7,000 Finns who had been diagnosed with Lyme disease. They were amazed to find that a so-called secretoglobin, called SCGB1D2, suppresses bacterial growth.

In this study, the researchers identified normal and mutant versions of SCGB1D2 in Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme disease.

The immune system fights bacteria

The researchers found that the normal form of this protein significantly slowed the growth of the bacteria, but twice as much of the mutated form was needed to achieve similar results. Mice exposed to the mutated form of the protein became infected with Lyme disease, while mice with the “normal” form of the protein remained healthy despite being exposed to the bacteria.

According to the scientists, this means that the mutated protein cannot protect the mice from disease, while the normal protein keeps them healthy. This was very exciting for scientists because it provided new insights into how the immune system fights bacteria.

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