More than five years ago, Embers and Philipp published an excellent study about persistent symptoms in Lyme disease, based on research on rhesus monkeys (see www.tekenbeetziekten.nl/persistente-infectie-en-persistente-klachten-2/). Publication of the study had been opposed for a long time because in many respects it was at odds with the official views concerning diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease. After publication there was a substantial amount of criticism (mostly nonsense or far-fetched) from the official Lyme “experts” at the American IDSA. Even among patients not everyone was pleased, since the research did not provide evidence that long-term antibiotic use is beneficial with Lyme disease. A study by Hodzic using mice as test animals, published in 2014 (see www.tekenbeetziekten.nl/dood-levend/), yielded similar findings about persistence in Lyme disease, but the IDSA and CBO representatives continued to dismiss these findings as irrelevant.
Since then, new publications on persistent complaints with Lyme have appeared, but most were more of the same and did not produce any new facts. By constantly ruminating the old myths in the scientific literature and blocking or censoring any genuinely new research, IDSA hopes to stay in control when it comes to Lyme diagnostics and treatment, and as such everything has remained the same. In the past year, IDSA representatives and their European colleagues have been particularly busy convincing public opinion of their good intentions and the benefits of new, “better” Lyme tests that they aim to introduce shortly. The traditional two-step protocol (Elisa + Western blot test) must now be replaced with a combination of two simple Elisa tests, possibly supplemented by an unproven ‘metabolomics’ test, which is patented by employees of the American CDC (and will therefore make them a lot of money, just like several CDC / IDSA heads are nowadays cashing in on the C6 Elisa test). The fact that these “improved” tests will not provide improvements for Lyme patients, is apparent for everyone who has been following the entertaining displays of this circus for a while. The two-step protocol was already quite worthless and the proposed improvement is a straightforward example of “out of the frying pan into the fire”.
In December 2017, Monica Embers’ research group published two new articles that utterly destroyed almost all the “truths” claimed by the official Lyme experts at IDSA and CBO (1, 2). This research also involved rhesus monkeys, which were treated with a 28-day antibiotic course of doxycycline, the standard medication for Lyme treatment, or with a placebo four months after infection with Borrelia. This extensive and thorough research decimates the arguments put forward by the IDSA representatives against the earlier publications on persistence. The outcome is important because the conditions of the study match the reality of human Lyme patients, who are also frequently diagnosed and treated at a later stage (and not with 4 weeks of doxy but rather 1-2 weeks). Rhesus monkeys are the only test animals that develop Lyme in the same form that we see in humans. Rodents such as mice do not normally get sick from a Borrelia infection. In fact, some studies suggest that the infection actually benefits them; only laboratory mice that have been bred ill contract ‘Lyme’. Other laboratory animals, such as some dog species, may develop Lyme disease, but not neuroborreliosis, which plays an important role in humans, especially in the chronic stage.
A number of findings from the research:
- All of the monkeys that were treated with antibiotics – including two with negative serological tests – had a Borrelia infection in tissues and organs ½ to 1 year after AB treatment. There was no significant difference in persistent infection between the monkeys treated with AB and the monkeys not treated with AB; the antibiotic treatment of a month therefore had no demonstrable effect. Persistent Borrelia’s were demonstrated using a large number of different techniques. As indicated in previous studies they are present in relatively small numbers, alive (and therefore not “dead spirochaetal debris” as experts often say) but less active/infectious, which is probably an adaptation to the host.
- The developed symptoms vary greatly per individual, regardless of antibiotics treatment or not. This reveals the danger of basing a Lyme diagnosis on a combination of “specific characteristics”, as advocated by IDSA experts and their colleagues in the Netherlands, because this means all kinds of cases are overlooked.
- During the study antibody responses were measured for five known Borrelia antigens, including the C6 antigen on which many current Lyme tests are based. The antibodies appear to yield different results for each individual and regularly give an incorrect picture of the patient’s condition (active infection yes or no). It is impossible to discuss all the details here, but once you have read this study you cannot possibly take Lyme serology seriously anymore. For years I have been emphasizing that it makes no sense to use antibody testing to diagnose a pathogen that specializes in avoiding, manipulating and switching off the immune system, on which those tests are based, but the “experts” continue to play around with their antibody tests (among other things because patenting and therefore making a lot of money is much easier with this type of test than with PCR tests).
- Other backbones of Lyme diagnostics, such as the presence of a characteristic EM, also seem hilarious when you review this study. Five out of ten infected monkeys were positive in a culture test, eight out of ten were PCR positive but only one of the monkeys developed a characteristic EM. Precisely this monkey remained negative in the serological tests throughout the study. Rhesus monkeys are not humans, and with humans you cannot formally perform this type of experiment and therefore cannot demonstrate in a simple manner how bad Lyme disease diagnostics function in practice. However, it is obvious that human diagnostics are just as messy.
The question is whether these facts will change anything about the persistent lies about Lyme that the IDSA/CBO representatives keep telling. Time and again it becomes clear that they continue to manipulate? reality at the expense of Lyme patients through governing of research budgets, close relationships with government policy officials (such as CDC / NIH, etc.) and outright censorship in the “prestigious” medical journals. Speaking up against the official IDSA / CBO views on Lyme still poses a high risk of an early end of your career for physicians and scientists, while on the other hand carelessly spreading the IDSA gospel often results in a flashy career with a lot of research money and numerous publications in well-known medical journals.
However, slowly but surely the tide seems to be turning. In the US, various investigations and lawsuits are currently being conducted concerning opposition / manipulation of Lyme research and conflicts of interest by representatives of IDSA and CDC, which will presumably uncover some dirty secrets. Open Access journals – which are slightly more difficult to censor by IDSA / CDC – are gaining ground and give independent scientists more opportunity to publish their research. In the long term, the IDSA / CBO lies cannot be sustained because their myths will then only exist in the parallel reality of the “prestigious” medical journals.
Perhaps it is a good sign that a small article about Lyme was published in Nature (probably the most important natural science magazine) last week (3). It is a positive review of a new book (Conquering Lyme disease) by Brian Fallon, a researcher with a sound reputation among patients. Many IDSA / CBO representatives will not be happy with its conclusion:
“Whatever the mechanism, proof of the existence of persistent symptoms will pave the way for better diagnostics, treatment and care. … What’s particularly pressing is the need for a definitive test to detect the spirochaetes that cause this devastating disease.”
Embers’ new research is not able to determine whether the persistent Borrelia’s are THE cause of persistent complaints in chronic Lyme patients. And it does not answer the question what may actually be a good treatment for (chronic) Lyme disease. It does show, however, that the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme is on a completely wrong track and urgently needs a drastic change of course. Let’s hope the Lyme experts are not so self-important that they would rather let the train run off the rails than finally admit they were wrong …
- Variable manifestations, diverse seroreactivity and post-treatment persistence in non-human primates exposed to Borrelia burgdorferi by tick feeding. http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0189071
- Late Disseminated Lyme Disease: Associated Pathology and Spirochete Persistence Post-Treatment in Rhesus Macaques http://ajp.amjpathol.org/article/S0002-9440(17)30894-5/fulltext
- Lyme disease laid bare www.nature.com/articles/d41586-017-08442-8
Aangepast: 21 juli 2019