Stem cell-derived exosomes have the potential to treat Lyme Disease by inducing high levels of anti-inflammatory cytokines.
Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi. The disease was first recognized in 1975 when large numbers of children were diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis in Lyme, Connecticut, and two neighboring towns.
Further research showed that bites from deer ticks infected with the bacterium were responsible for the outbreak of arthritis. Ordinary “wood ticks” and “dog ticks” do not carry the infection.
In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates there are about 300,000 cases per year, even though the number reported is much lower.
Symptoms and Causes
What are the symptoms of Lyme disease?
Lyme disease may evolve through several phases or stages which can overlap causing symptoms that may involve the skin, joints, heart, or nervous system.
Early Lyme disease typically causes a reddish rash or skin lesion known as erythema migrans (EM). The rash starts as a small red spot at the site of the tick bite 1 to 4 weeks after the bite. It expands over a period of days or weeks, forming a circular, triangular, or oval-shaped rash.
The rash may look like a bull’s eye because it appears as a red ring that surrounds a clear center area. The rash can range in size from that of a dime to the entire width of a person’s back. As infection spreads, several rashes (EM lesions) can appear at different sites on the body.
Along with the rash, you might have a fever, headache, stiff neck, body and joint aches, fatigue, and sometimes fever and swollen glands (lymph glands) which can last from a few days to a few weeks.
If the infection goes untreated, you may develop multiple areas of rash, paralysis of facial muscles (Bell’s palsy), heart block (interruption of the electrical system of the heart), or areas of numbness or abnormal sensation (neuropathy).
Untreated late Lyme disease, which occurs months to a year after the initial infection, is most commonly associated with recurring episodes of swollen joints (arthritis) typically of large joints such as the knee.
Additionally, some patients may develop difficulty concentrating, which is called “brain fog” (encephalopathy).
Diagnosis and Tests
How is Lyme disease diagnosed?
Lyme disease may be difficult to diagnose because many of its symptoms mimic those of other disorders. In addition, the only distinctive symptom of Lyme disease, the red rash, does not happen or is not noticed by one-fifth of those who become infected. Many people can’t recall having been bitten by a tick, because the tick is tiny, and its bite is usually painless.
If no rash is present, doctors will make the diagnosis on the basis of a detailed medical history, a careful physical examination, and laboratory tests to confirm their suspicion.
No test is perfect and the current testing for Lyme disease is no exception. Very early in the disease, testing will be negative as the body has not had time to develop a response that can be measured.
Once the body responds, the positive test may persist for years even if Lyme is treated properly. Current research efforts are working to develop improved testing for Lyme disease.
Management and Treatment
How is Lyme disease treated?
Nearly all people with Lyme disease can be effectively treated with antibiotics, usually doxycycline or amoxicillin. The duration of treatment depends on the stage of infection. In general, the sooner such therapy is initiated following infection, the quicker and more complete the recovery.
Pregnant women should be treated for Lyme disease as well. There is, however, no evidence that a fetus can be infected by its mother. Additionally, NO strong evidence exists to suggest miscarriages are more likely after Lyme.
What should I do if I am bitten by a tick?
If you experience a tick bite, the best way to remove it is by taking the following steps:
- Tug gently but firmly with blunt tweezers near the “head” of the tick at the level of your skin until it releases its hold on the skin.
- Avoid crushing the tick’s body or handling the tick with bare fingers as you could expose yourself to the bacteria in the tick.
- Wash the bite area thoroughly with soap and water.
- DO NOT use kerosene, petroleum jelly, or hot cigarette butts to remove the tick.
- DO NOT squeeze the tick’s body with your fingers or tweezers.
Exosomes & Lyme Disease
Lyme Disease is a complex, tick-borne disease that weakens the immune system. The tick bite can occur months or even years before symptoms even begin to manifest. But, once a combination of factors reaches fever pitch, the immune system crashes bringing about the onset of the illness… much like a pot of water boiling over.
The combination of factors that activates the illness are typically stress, poor diet, and exposure to toxins. People can harbor the bacteria that causes Lyme Disease, Borrelia burgdorferi, for years without ever knowing. If the immune system is healthy, a person can go indefinitely without ever showing symptoms.
Stem cell-derived exosomes have anti-inflammatory potential. They induce high levels of anti-inflammatory cytokines, and therefore patients with autoimmune and inflammatory disorders may respond to the benefits of exosome therapy.
What is the outlook for someone with Lyme disease?
Most of the people who get Lyme disease and are treated early will be fine.
Even after proper treatment, some patients (estimated at 5-15%) may experience lingering fatigue, achiness, or headaches. This does not signify ongoing infection and will not respond to additional antibiotics. The majority of people in this group will have symptoms resolve over the next 1-6 months.
Chronic Lyme Syndrome
Chronic Lyme syndrome is a term used by some that include the symptoms of Post-Lyme syndrome outlined above. This is a controversial topic with no accepted etiology and no proven cause or association.
If you’re suffering from Lyme disease and need urgent treatment start with a free consultation to learn how to schedule an appointment and begin therapy.