Lewis, Kim

Kim Lewis, PhD
University Distinguished ProfessorLewis
Director, Antimicrobial Discovery Center
Northeastern University
Boston, MA

Developing Therapies for Treating Lyme Disease

Kim Lewis is a University Distinguished Professor and Director, Antimicrobial Discovery Center at Northeastern University in Boston, and a Fellow of the American Society of Microbiology. He obtained his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Moscow University in 1980, and has been on the Faculty of MIT, University of Maryland, and Tufts University prior to coming to Northeastern.

Dr. Lewis has authored over 100 papers and is an inventor on several patents. His more notable findings include the development of general methods to grow previously uncultured bacteria that make up >99% of biodiversity on the planet, the discovery of the culprit of recalcitrant biofilm infections, drug-tolerant persister cells; and antimicrobials for sterilizing biofilm infections and killing M. tuberculosis.

Dr. Lewis presented over 90 invited talks. Dr. Lewis has been a permanent member of the Drug Discovery and Drug Resistance NIH Study Section, and Chair of two NIH Study Sections on Drug Discovery. Dr. Lewis has served as a panelist and contributor to the National Academies Institute of Medicine reports on antibiotic resistance in 2010, 2011 and 2014, and the European Academies Science Advisory Meeting in 2014. Dr. Lewis is a member of Faculty 1000, a world-wide panel of experts evaluating research advancements. He is a recipient of the MIT C.E. Reed Faculty Initiative Award for an innovative research project (1992), and is a recipient of the NIH Director’s Transformative Grant (2009).

Apart from his work in Academia, Dr. Lewis has served as a consultant to the Pharmaceutical Industry, The Biotech, and is a founder of two Biotech Companies, NovoBiotic Pharmaceuticals, and Arietis Corporation.

Conference Lecture Summary

The nature of Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome (PTLDS) remains unknown, but it is reasonable to assume that minimizing the duration of an acute infection will diminish if not prevent the chronic form of the disease. With this in mind, we set out to identify antimicrobials that efficiently kill Borrelia burgdorferi. This led to the identification of two experimental compounds. One is disulfiram, an FDA approved drug for treating alcoholism that eradicates persisters of B. burgdorferi and acts selectively against the pathogen. We developed a stable formulation of disulfiram that is effective in a mouse model of Lyme disease. If the pathogen is present at the chronic stage, disulfiram is also expected to clear it. The other compound is a natural product selective against B. burgdorferi. An aberrant microbiome is known to contribute to a number of autoimmune diseases, and patients with PTLDS exhibit changes in the microbiome as well. This suggests microbiome restoration, and using antibiotics that do not harm gut symbionts.