Because many people with Lyme disease do not fully recover with antibiotics alone, many are seeking stem cell treatments as an option.
Lyme disease is transmitted by the bite of blacklegged ticks (deer tick, Ixodes scapularis) infected with Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria. A number of debilitating and long-lasting symptoms can include the development of a distinctive skin rash (erythema migrans), fever, fatigue, muscle pain, and headaches. Due to the nonspecific and diverse symptoms, Lyme disease is often misdiagnosed and can progress to serious conditions of the heart, nervous, and musculoskeletal systems.
Treatment is usually approached using a course of antibiotics. However, many with the disease do not respond favorably, or recovery is incomplete. The limited relief with current treatment options have led some people to seek stem-cell treatment as an option. Most cases of people finding relief from stem-cell treatments available outside of the U.S. are anecdotal. However, there is recent research that examines the role of stem-cell treatment for Lyme disease.
Stem cells are undifferentiated cells that can self-renew and differentiate into specialized cell types, and research explores the use of stem cells for regenerative medicine applications. Dr. Geeta Shroff from New Delhi, India has conducted studies to determine the response of patients with Lyme disease to treatment with human embryonic stem cells. In one study, two patients with MS and Lyme disease were administered stem cells via different routes including intravenous, intramuscular, and intrathecal (into the spinal fluid). After about 5 months of stem cell treatment, patients showed improvements in muscle strength, walking, balance, relief of fatigue and pain, and improved stamina. Another study involved 59 patients with Lyme disease evaluated for changes in brain perfusion after stem-cell treatment, which improved brain perfusion.
The results are promising, but represent a very limited sample of published clinical research regarding the stem-cell approach to treating Lyme disease. Research on the use of adult stem cells can also determine their effectiveness for use in treating people with Lyme disease. Applied and clinical research is needed to better determine the utility and safety of stem-cell therapy for the treatment of Lyme disease.
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Shroff G. Transplantation of Human Embryonic Stem Cells in Patients with Multiple Sclerosis and Lyme Disease. The American Journal of Case Reports. 2016;17:944-949.Shroff G. Single-photon emission tomography imaging in patients with Lyme disease treated with human embryonic stem cells. Neuroradiol J. 2018 Apr;31(2):157-167.