A new study lead by researchers from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) analyzed data from the MyLymeData patient registry. The Registry, with over 13,000 enrolled patients, is a project of the non-profit LymeDisease.org.
The researchers used machine learning techniques and analyzed more than 2,000 patients with chronic Lyme disease (CLD) from the database to identify key features associated with improved patient response. They found that the extended use of antibiotics was an important element of improved health.
“As many as 3 million people have chronic Lyme disease in the US, and nobody knows the best way to treat them,” said Lorraine Johnson, CEO of LymeDisease.org. “The key finding here is that patients who are now well or who report substantial improvement have taken longer courses of antibiotics.”
Antibiotic Use Associated with High Treatment Response
This study compared patients who became well or substantially improved to patients who did not show improvement. High treatment response was most strongly associated with the use of antibiotics as contrasted with alternative treatments alone, or going without treatment altogether. The research team found that more “well” patients (76%) and “high responders” (59%) were treated with antibiotics compared to patients who showed no response (38%).
Offering Insight to Long-Term Antibiotic Controversy
To date, the use of extended antibiotics to treat patients with persistent symptoms of Lyme disease has been a topic of controversy. Testing for Lyme disease is lacking and therefore, no option exists that has demonstrated the ability to accurately determine whether the Lyme bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb), has been effectively eradicated.
“This study confirms what many clinicians who treat chronic Lyme disease already know,” said Raphael Stricker, MD, Union Square Medical Associates, San Francisco. “Individualized patient care provided by Lyme-literate practitioners is essential to identify those patients who require longer antibiotic treatment to get better.”
Read the study press release on WebWire.
Learn more about MyLymeData.org.