Lyme disease’s history is riddled with mysteries, but new research from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health might have uncovered a new treatment to prevent lifelong symptoms of the disease.

Researchers found a variant of Lyme disease that is slow growing and may be the cause of the 10-20 percent of patients that experience lifelong symptoms from the disease. This variant is resistant to the standard single antibiotic treatment of Lyme disease. However, in test tubes and mice, the researchers found a three-antibiotic cocktail eradicated the Lyme bacteria.

“There is a lot of excitement in the field, because we now have not only a plausible explanation but also a potential solution for patients who suffer from persistent Lyme disease symptoms despite standard single-antibiotic treatment,” says study senior author Ying Zhang, MD, PhD, professor in the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at the Bloomberg School.

“A lot of physicians have been wanting to do clinical trials of antibiotic combinations in post- treatment Lyme disease syndrome patients, and now we have results in animals that support the idea of such trials,” Zhang says.

Zhang and his colleagues are making plans for their own trials and hope that some of their results will help not just Lyme patients, but other patients with persistent diseases.

The research was published in the March 28 issue of Discovery Medicine. More information can also be found in the Bloomberg School’s press release.