UNH professor could have cure for Lyme disease

A common sweetener could be the key to a potential cure for Lyme disease. (WFSB)

A professor in Connecticut along with her team of researchers is looking into whether or not Stevia, which is a natural sweetener, can kill Lyme disease bacteria.

A few years ago, University of New Haven professor Eva Sapi, who once had a bout with Lyme disease herself, said a nature paper, mentioned adding sugar when testing antibiotics, so they did just that with Lyme disease.

"I told the team, lets pick up every single sugar you could think of,” Sapi, who heads up the biology and environmental sciences department at the University of New Haven, said. “We went to Shop Rite and picked up whatever was on the shelf, all the have sugar, everything."

That included Stevia specifically the liquid extract from the Japanese leaf.

"Very first experiment, Stevia, stood up very strongly. I couldn't believe it,” Sapi said. "We found pallets, found granules, found the liquid, we tested all of them and turned out the liquid forms are the best."

Sapi said their thought is that the bacteria, which causes Lyme disease, see the sugar and looks at it as food, not an antibiotic. It reduces the size of the bacteria in the test tube by quite a bit.

So while Sapi and her team with the Lyme disease research group continue their work, a small clinical trial based out of New York got underway just a few months ago. They are using stevia along with antibiotics to try and treat Lyme disease while others are taking the extract themselves.

"I've got emails from people saying they're getting better, but again, we need to have double binding, clinical trials before we say yes,” Sapi said. "Right now I would wait for the trial, he's conducting it right now, everybody is holding their breath to see if it helps and let’s hope for it, that would be wonderful."

It could be big news in Connecticut, where 3,000 new cases of Lyme disease are reported every year, but the actual number could be ten times higher because of cases that are not diagnosed.

Copyright 2016 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


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