Tick ​​bite: New gel against Lyme bacteria

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Newly designed gel to prevent Lyme disease after tick bite

A novel gel is designed to kill bacteria immediately after a tick bite to prevent Lyme disease from occurring. Current studies indicate that every third tick carries Borrelia bacteria. In order to reduce the risk of infection, a cream should help to nip a flare-up of the infectious disease in the bud.

A new gel should be applied to the skin immediately after a tick bite to prevent dangerous Lyme disease. Although an infection can be relatively harmless, many patients suffer from limb pain, heart palpitations, rapid heartbeat, kidney damage and nervous disorders. If a tick has bitten, then fever, chills, pain in the joints and the typical red circle around the wound site can occur. Medically, patients with described symptoms and the detection of the pathogen in the blood are treated with strong antibiotic drugs and, in more severe cases, with infusions. However, typical warning symptoms are often missing at the beginning of the infection, so that many patients do not have the tick bite treated at the initial stage. This is why the long-term consequences are serious, which can then hardly be combated using conventional methods. Today there are no vaccinations or evident immediate treatments against the pathogen.

Around 35 percent of ticks in Germany now carry the pathogen, says Dr. Sabine Stauga from the Bernhard Nocht Center for Clinical Studies (BNCCT). An infection breaks out in five to ten percent of the stung people. In order to ensure better care for patients, scientists from Germany and Austria have designed a new drug to protect against the onset of Lyme disease.

In order for protection to work, those affected by ticks should apply a gel containing antibiotics after a bite. The cream contains the active ingredient azithromycin, which until now has only been taken as a pill after a tick incident. Previous studies that tried to install the active ingredient in the form of an ointment have repeatedly failed. At that time, preparations were made with oil. The oil should help the antibiotic drug to soak into the skin. However, the skin absorption of the active ingredient was previously too minimal to allow penetration into deeper skin layers.

However, the newly conceived means is more promising. The gel contains the antibiotic azithromycin in a very high concentration so that the bacteria can be killed directly at the bite site. Initial studies in animals had met the corresponding expectations, and skin tolerance was also good, as another study showed.

The pathogen is only removed from the intestine of the carrier animal after a few hours. If the germs were transported to the wound site, they usually remain close to the puncture site for up to four days. Only then will the bacteria migrate further into the body. This special feature makes use of the gel and can therefore be applied to the bite site.

The Hamburg study center is currently looking for subjects for the final study phase, which is required for the drug to be approved. Subjects between 18 and 80 years of age can register until autumn 2012. The prerequisite is that they have been bitten by a tick. In addition, the tick should be kept, either stuck in the skin or already removed in a jar. Up to 500 people are being sought for study phase three to test the antibiotic gel under normal conditions. (sb)

Read on:
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Author and source information

Video: Part 2: Tick-Borne Diseases Other Than Lyme Disease Hot Topic


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