Breakthrough paves way for new Lyme disease treatment
A Virginia Tech biochemist has discovered the cellular component that contributes to Lyme arthritis, a debilitating and extremely painful condition that is the most common late stage symptom of Lyme disease, a press release said.
According to the release from Virginia Tech, the biochemist, Brandon Jutras, found that as the Lyme-causing bacteria borrelia burgdorferi multiplies, it sheds a cellular component called peptidoglycan that elicits a unique inflammatory response in the body.
“This discovery will help researchers improve diagnostic tests and may lead to new treatment options for patients suffering with Lyme arthritis,” said Jutras, lead author on the study. “This is an important finding and we think that it has major implications for many manifestations of Lyme disease, not just Lyme arthritis.”
Lyme disease is the most reported vector-borne disease in the country, and in Virginia reports have increased by more than 6,000 percent in the last fifteen years. The Centers for Disease Control, estimates that approximately 300,000 people are diagnosed with Lyme disease annually in the United States. Scientists predict that the number of people who become infected Lyme will increase as our climate continues to change.
Jutras — an assistant professor of biochemistry in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and an affiliated faculty member of the Fralin Life Sciences Institute — and his collaborators recently published their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
According to the release, the PNAS paper was four years in the making, and Jutras began this research during his post-doctoral fellowship in the lab of Christine Jacobs-Wagner, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and professor at Yale University.
“Nowadays nothing significant in science is accomplished without collaboration,” said Jutras. Co-authors on this paper ranged from bench scientists to medical doctors and practicing physicians. Dr. Allen Steere, a Harvard doctor who originally identified Lyme disease in the 1970s, assisted Jutras with his research and provided access to patient samples.
The research could provide a new way to diagnose Lyme disease and Lyme arthritis for patients with vague symptoms based on the presence of the cellular component called peptidoglycan in synovial fluid.
The press release said, the team found peptidoglycan is a major contributor to Lyme arthritis in late-stage Lyme disease patients. Peptidoglycan is an essential component of bacterial cell walls. All bacteria have some form of peptidoglycan, but the form found in the bacteria that causes Lyme, borrelia burgdorferi, has a unique chemical structure. When the bacteria multiply, they shed peptidoglycan into the extracellular environment, because its genome does not have the appropriate proteins to recycle it back into the cell.
“We can actually detect peptidoglycan in the synovial fluid of the affected, inflamed joints of patients that have all the symptoms of Lyme arthritis but no longer have an obvious, active infection,” said Jutras in the release.
Treatment failures were found in Lyme arthritic patients who were treated with intramuscular (IM) benzathine penicillin following steroids. 
In another study, two patients were ill for 3 years and one patient for 6 years despite receiving intravenous (IV) ceftriaxone. The authors explained, “Patients unresponsive to ceftriaxone were more likely to have received corticosteroid treatment.” Dattwyler et al. from Stony Brook Medical Center found an “association of steroid use with an increased failure rate or worsening of disease is understandable in view of the well-known effects of these agents on the inflammatory and immune responses.”
Dattwyler advised against the use of steroids in Lyme disease patients based on these two studies. “In view of the strong association between the use of steroids and the lack of response to antibiotic therapy, we believe that glucocorticoids should not be used in the treatment of Lyme borreliosis.” 
This article highlights yet again the importance of needing the right research to be done. The Cabal continues full-steam ahead doing research built upon false premises that could hurt patients in the end.