Nearly Half A Million People In The U.S. Are Impacted By Lyme Disease Each Year, But Researchers Recently Discovered That A Protein In Human Sweat Can Protect Against This Illness

Halfpoint - - illustrative purposes only, not the actual people

Every year, nearly half a million people are affected by Lyme disease in the United States. The bacterial infection is transmitted by ticks. Most of the time, antibiotics will do the trick and clear the infection right up, but in some cases, Lyme disease can result in chronic illness.

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of Helsinki have discovered that human sweat contains a protein that can protect against Lyme disease by preventing the growth of the bacteria that causes the illness.

According to the study published in the scientific journal Nature Communications, approximately 33 percent of the population carries a genetic variant of the protein.

Currently, it is unknown exactly how the protein blocks the growth of the bacteria associated with Lyme disease, but the researchers hope to use the protective power of the protein to create skin creams that can prevent people from contracting the disease altogether or to serve as an alternative treatment for infections that don’t respond to antibiotics.

“This protein may provide some protection from Lyme disease, and we think there are real implications here for a preventative and possibly a therapeutic based on this protein,” Michal Caspi Tal, a principal research scientist in the Department of Biological Engineering at MIT, said.

In the study, the scientists analyzed the DNA and reviewed the medical histories of 7,000 Finnish people who had been diagnosed with Lyme disease. They identified a new secretoglobin called SCGB1D2 that was produced by sweat glands.

Secretoglobins are proteins found in the tissue lining of lungs and other organs that help with building immunity against infection.

To figure out how the protein might influence Lyme disease, the researchers exposed normal and mutated versions of SCGB1D2 to Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme disease.

The normal version was highly successful in suppressing bacteria growth, while the mutated version required twice as much of the protein to achieve similar results.

Halfpoint – – illustrative purposes only, not the actual people

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