A study published by Leimer and others in Cell October 6th 2021, highlighted the rediscovery of the antibiotic hygromycin A against Lyme’s disease.
Lyme’s disease is on the rise.
It is caused by the spirochete Borreliella burgdorferi and affects an estimated 500,000 people in the United States alone.
The antibiotics currently used to treat Lyme disease are broad spectrum, damage the microbiome and select for resistance in non-target bacteria. This study sought to identify a compound acting selectively against B. burgdorferi.
A screen of soil microorganisms revealed a compound highly selective against spirochetes, including B. burgdorferi.
Unexpectedly, this compound was determined to be Hygromycin A, a known antimicrobial produced by Streptomyces hygroscopicus. Hygromycin A targets the ribosomes and is taken up by B. Burgdorferi, explaining its selectivity. Hygromycin A cleared the B. burgdorferi infection in mice, including animals that ingested the compound in a bait, and was less disruptive to the faecal microbiome than clinically relevant antibiotics.
This selective antibiotic holds the promise of providing a better therapeutic regimen for Lyme’s disease and eradicated it in the environment.
Dr Paul Ettlinger
BM, DRCOG, FRCGP, FRIPH, DOccMed