Biofilms and Lyme Disease

Biofilms that form in the human body are up to ten thousand times more resistant to antibiotics than free-floating bacteria, making them very difficult to treat medically. These biofilms are responsible for the extreme persistence of many difficult to treat illnesses like Legionnaire’s disease, Staphylococcus aureus (“Staph”), and infectious bronchitis, that can trouble patients with frustrating symptoms for years.

Some years ago researchers showed that biofilms might also be helping the Lyme-causing bacteria evade treatment.(1) These findings have excited Lyme researchers who have since been exploring various treatment strategies designed to target the entire bacterial colony. If successful, these treatments might bring long-needed relief to patients with late-stage or persistent Lyme disease where antibiotics have previously failed.

What is a Biofilm?

A biofilm is something that we come into contact with every day.The plaque that forms on your teeth and causes tooth decay is a type of biofilm. Clogged drains are also caused by biofilm, and you may have encountered biofilm-coated rocks when walking into a river or stream.

Biofilms form when bacteria adhere to surfaces in some form of watery environment and begin to excrete a slimy, glue-like substance that can stick to all kinds of materials including metals, plastics, medical implant materials, and biological tissues. Biofilms can be formed by a single bacterial species or many species of bacteria, as well as fungi, algae, protozoa, debris, and corrosion products. Essentially, a biofilm may form on any surface exposed to bacteria and some amount of water.

Image: Stages of Biofilm Development(2)

Biofilms are thought to be responsible for more than 80% of microbial diseases, such as:

  • Otitis media, the most common acute ear infection in US chil