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Lyme Bacterium's Possible Ancestor Found In Ancient Tick

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the old-school-sick dept.

Medicine 30

Taco Cowboy (5327) writes "A few ancient ticks, some 15-million to 20-million years old, trapped inside a piece of amber were bought by a researcher some 25 years ago, in the Dominican Republic. Upon examination, he found ancient spirochetes bacterium, a group of rotini-shaped bacteria responsible for many human diseases, in one of the ticks. Although Lyme disease did not exist back then, the spirochetes in the fossil tick probably contributed to the genetic diversity of the 12 or more species of Borrelia that cause Lyme and similar diseases today, says George Poinar. 'Parasites represent at least half of all modern animal species, and that distribution probably held true millions of years ago, too. “In a sense, this [finding] is not surprising since virtually every species on the planet is parasitized,” says Armand Kuris, a parasitologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who was not involved in the study. Evidence of those ancient parasite–host associations is difficult to come by, however. “In terms of finding any kind of physical documentation in the fossil record, that’s really rare — especially for a microbial pathogen,” Kuris says. “That’s what makes this paper just plain interesting.”'"

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Nah (1)

Austrian Anarchy (3010653) | about 4 months ago | (#47192085)

This is not movie material. Bring me back something bigger.

Re:Nah (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 4 months ago | (#47192283)

Hey, Jurassic Bug would have been a tremendous hit! The problem is, Miocene Bug just sounds stupid and would have been a flop. I say, dig deeper. Don't be afraid to punch right through the iridium!

Slashdot Beta is a disease on humanity (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47192121)

This abomination known as Slashdot Beta has already shown that the overall effects will be negative. Why does Slashdot continue on with this plague?
 
Boycott Dice!
Boycott ThinkGeek!
Boycott Beta!

This sounds really dangerous to me. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47192229)

Now I am only a Ruby on Rails programmer, so bacteriology and virology are not my strong points. But I don't see how it's safe to be messing with this stuff. Suppose a researcher dealing with this kind of bacterium gets some of this bacterium on his fingers while in the lab. And then let us suppose that he goes to the washroom. The bacterium transits from his fingers to underneath his foreskin. This provides a breeding ground where it can reproduce with ease. Some time later, the bacterium population has exploded, and some of it makes its way into the poor researcher's urethra. From there it makes its way into his bladder, kidneys, and eventually his other internal organs and maybe even his bloodstream. This leads to an early form of Lyme disease that is far more potent and harmful than modern strains. It does not respond to the modern human's immune system, and it does not respond to modern forms of treatment. The bacterium culture living within this poor, poor researcher's body causes painful symptoms such as swelling of the testes and other unmentionable ailments. To me, this sounds like all the more reason to not jerk around with such dangerous primal bacterium of days long past.

Re:This sounds really dangerous to me. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47192259)

This leads to an early form of Lyme disease that is far more potent and harmful than modern strains. It does not respond to the modern human's immune system, and it does not respond to modern forms of treatment. The bacterium culture living within this poor, poor researcher's body causes painful symptoms such as swelling of the testes and other unmentionable ailments.

You think that's scary, just wait until a couple of days later, when the Lyme Creature bursts from his chest.

Re:This sounds really dangerous to me. (1)

bbsalem (2784853) | about 4 months ago | (#47205705)

Sounds to me like the Miocene version was a ticking time bomb, though.

Let me calm your fears. (4, Informative)

mmell (832646) | about 4 months ago | (#47192481)

The longer a bacterium or virus has been present on the planet, the more likely it is that animals will have inherited a natural defense mechanism to cope with it. That's not an absolute; our inherited resistance to specified pathogens might be 'forgotten' over the course of centuries or millenia, but those immunities are theorized to be the reason that pathogens also evolve. In effect, pathogens learn to live in us. We learn how to evict them. They learn how to sneak back in. We learn how to catch them and eject them.

Yes, I know it's not a very scientific or thorough explanation. If you accept the principals of the theory of evolution and the concept of genetic drift, it makes sense. In any event, I suspect the modern forms of this bacteria are more virulent than their primitive ancestors.

Re:Let me calm your fears. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47196511)

This doesn't explain why I have Lyme and suffer because of it.

Re:This sounds really dangerous to me. (1)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | about 4 months ago | (#47192987)

Now I am only a Ruby on Rails programmer, so bacteriology and virology are not my strong points. But I don't see how it's safe to be messing with this stuff.

It's a pretty good bet that most things are immune by this point. You get points for imagination, but unless those wer the only bacterium of a lethal strain tha miraculously got aought in that amber, there were almost certainly a lot of others just waiting to infect us over the aeons.

Re:This sounds really dangerous to me. (1)

cusco (717999) | about 4 months ago | (#47196727)

They're 15-20 million years old. They're not viable organisms any more. Stop watching 'Jurassic Park' and start reading something besides programming manuals.

No, you don't have "chronic Lyme disease" (2)

CRCulver (715279) | about 4 months ago | (#47192235)

Any discussion of this disease tends to come up with a few posts along the lines of "my back pains are long-term Lyme disease!". This claim has gained wide exposure of late by being in some celebrities' Twitter feeds and now ever more people are jumping on the bandwagon. Let's nip that in the bud right now. Most medical authorities believe this is not a thing [wikipedia.org] , and the "patient advocate" organizations trying to claim it is sound as kooky as the "anti-vaccine crowd" and often downright scary.

Re:No, you don't have "chronic Lyme disease" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47192403)

If you read your own article, they say that Fibromyalgia and CFS may be present in post-lyme patients. Whether they are causitive is not addressed, but it is quite possible to develop another condition after a severe infection of parasites...

Re:No, you don't have "chronic Lyme disease" (1)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | about 4 months ago | (#47192997)

Let's nip that in the bud right now.

It's a bit like gluten allergies. If you dare to say it's a fad, you'll get a dozen indignant self diagnosed sufferers who've never felt better since eliminating all gluten from their diet.

That's why we have gluten free spring water now. I'm holding out for gluten free cigarettes.

Re:No, you don't have "chronic Lyme disease" (1)

Charles Duffy (2856687) | about 4 months ago | (#47193135)

Gluten intolerance you're pretty much on the nose about. Honest gluten allergies are a very real thing; it's the non-Celaic's variant (which as far as I know isn't generally described as an allergy) that evidence points to not actually existing. Which is really unfortunate for people with actual Celiac's, because products meant for the fad-hanger-on people are often not put through the same level of quality control and cross-contamination avoidance care, so they often get sick eating modern "gluten-free" products that folks without the actual disease, of course, notice nothing at all wrong with.

Re:No, you don't have "chronic Lyme disease" (1)

NoKaOi (1415755) | about 4 months ago | (#47193647)

I think you're referring to a wheat allergy which is entirely different from a "gluten allergy." You can get gluten-free wheat products, and there are grains other than wheat that contain gluten. A few hints to know if somebody is a kook, if any of the following are true:
1. They say that have a "gluten allergy." Anybody with celiac wouldn't call it an allergy, and anybody with a wheat allergy would call it a wheat allergy.
2. They say they are "gluten intolerant" but claim they don't have celiac.
3. They claim to have any form of gluten intolerance that they recently discovered, but they don't look malnourished.
4. They claim that eating gluten gives them indigestion. That's not how celiac works.
5. They say eating a gluten free diet just makes them feel better. (although in reality this can be true, but it's not because they cut out gluten, it's that as a result they are eating fewer calories and/or paying more attention to what they're eating).

Re:No, you don't have "chronic Lyme disease" (1)

JudgeFurious (455868) | about 4 months ago | (#47195047)

"Gluten is a vague term. It’s something that’s used to categorize things that are bad. You know, calories, that’s a gluten. Fat, that’s a gluten."

It is not Gluten, it is FODMAPs (2)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about 4 months ago | (#47195239)

Actually, I just read a study that suggests that it isn't actually gluten people suffer from It is "Poorly Absorbed Short Chained Carbohydrates"(FODMAPs). The problem is, gluten is often associated with these short chain carbohydrates and removing gluten from your diet, actually removes most of the real irritant. See the link below for the study.

http://www.gastrojournal.org/a... [gastrojournal.org]

Re:No, you don't have "chronic Lyme disease" (2)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | about 4 months ago | (#47194103)

Gluten Honest gluten allergies are a very real thing; it's the non-Celaic's variant (which as far as I know isn't generally described as an allergy) that evidence points to not actually existing.

A friend does have Celiac disease, diagnosed, and under treatment now. There was no ambiguity about her symptoms, and no ambiguity about their results.

Which is really unfortunate for people with actual Celiac's, because products meant for the fad-hanger-on people are often not put through the same level of quality control and cross-contamination avoidance care, so they often get sick eating modern "gluten-free" products that folks without the actual disease, of course, notice nothing at all wrong with.

This! She has to watch everything she eats, and as you note, just saying "gluten free" doesn't mean all that much.

I think that the self diagnosed faddist Gluten allergy folks, if they od feel better, it is probably the result of eating better in general after deciding.

Re:No, you don't have "chronic Lyme disease" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47193211)

When the best thing a Medical Authority can come up with to treat a condition is steroids, maybe they don't understand it as well as they say they do.

Re:No, you don't have "chronic Lyme disease" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47193495)

Any discussion of this disease tends to come up with a few posts along the lines of "my back pains are long-term Lyme disease!". This claim has gained wide exposure of late by being in some celebrities' Twitter feeds and now ever more people are jumping on the bandwagon. Let's nip that in the bud right now.

However, let's not overlook the fact that a substantial minority of people treated for borreliosis do have prolonged post-treatment symptoms, which can be quite debilitating. The reason is unknown, and sick people for whom no treatment seems to work will try anything, and readily latch on to kookery and conspiracy theories.

Anecdote time: I did have a standard 3-week doxycycline treatment after a tick bite, and a lingering heavy somnolence for the next 9-12 months. It made my life quite difficult, but I never tried prolonged antibiotic treatment, being conscious of the risks. Luckily for me, after a while those bouts of sleepiness became less intense and finally lapsed, but I realize that there are people whose symptoms persist for years, and understand their desperation.

Re:No, you don't have "chronic Lyme disease" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47195375)

Three weeks of doxycycline--good for you. It used to be if you 'caught it early' you would be given a 3-day dose, else a 7-day. Twice I was given the 3-day dose, and once the 7-day dose (actually developed conjunctivitis that time). And those are the times I saw the bulls-eye.

I can no longer get a massage because the slightest pressure on my back, etc. is painful. And a full night sleep only comes with the use of chemistry. Twice in the past few weeks I've awoken with every single joint hurting.

BTW, I grew up and live in Old Lyme, CT.

Re:No, you don't have "chronic Lyme disease" (1)

dinfinity (2300094) | about 4 months ago | (#47193779)

Appeal to authority, argumentum ad populum and poisoning the well. Classy. The science is actually more interesting than you believe:

"First, twenty-four rhesus macaques were infected with the Lyme bacteria in the laboratory. After four to six months, half the macaques received aggressive antibiotic therapy, which, in theory, should have cured them, but the bacteria persisted in some of the animals. Then the scientists used a method called xenodiagnosis to determine if treatment worked in three other monkeys. They planted ticks that had been reared in the lab under sterile conditions on macaques that had received antibiotics, and let them feed for four days. When the ticks were removed and examined, the scientists found small numbers of intact, functioning spirochetes in two of them, which could have come only from the blood of the macaques."
( http://www.newyorker.com/repor... [newyorker.com] )

It is a fact that a significant amount of people chronically suffer from symptoms that are perfectly in line with the symptoms of Lyme, after having definitely had Lyme. So, that is 'a thing'. Whether the cause is indeed recurring Lyme, a yeast infection or damage to the body doesn't really matter all that much to those with the symptoms. Being dismissed as 'kooky' or being told to 'get over it' by assholes as yourself does matter.

Re:No, you don't have "chronic Lyme disease" (1)

Spamalope (91802) | about 4 months ago | (#47194737)

It is a fact that a significant amount of people chronically suffer from symptoms that are perfectly in line with the symptoms of Lyme, after having definitely had Lyme. So, that is 'a thing'. Whether the cause is indeed recurring Lyme, a yeast infection or damage to the body doesn't really matter all that much to those with the symptoms. Being dismissed as 'kooky' or being told to 'get over it' by assholes as yourself does matter.

Lymes triggers a body-wide continuous red-line overload of the immune system. That's the source of the majority of the horrible symptoms. Adrenalin 24/7 and an immune system on such a hair trigger that it attacks *you* at the least excuse - or without one.

Anything that provokes the bone marrow mast cells can cause that to happen. Chronic infections (lymes), damage to the immune system, genetic defects, and some cancers can (one very rare leukemia is know for it).

So the classic 'lymes' symptoms aren't specific to lymes at all. And that symptom set is 'whatever your immune system is attacking today' so it's everywhere and nowhere, but a least part of the time presents as clearly auto-immune damage or as adrenal fatigue. Our current medical system does a terrible job for these kinds of problems. I know a doctor with those symptoms who was getting a 'there is nothing wrong with you, you just have bad allergies' run-around. It took her 10 years (!!!) to get a correct diagnosis because even as a doctor she couldn't get taken seriously. (The rare leukemia was her problem)


So the symptoms are real, but most are down stream results of breaking the volume knob on an auto-immune system feedback loop. Treatment requires finding the individual cause for each patient.

Re:No, you don't have "chronic Lyme disease" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47194887)

Any discussion of this disease tends to come up with a few posts along the lines of "my back pains are long-term Lyme disease!".

Yeah, that happened as soon as you decided to pipe up and try to be heard. Until then, nobody said a goddamn thing, Chris.

Sooooo... (0)

jpellino (202698) | about 4 months ago | (#47192305)

...it wasn't invented in a secret government bio-weapons lab in Long Island Sound? How banal.

Re:Sooooo... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47192667)

...it wasn't invented in a secret government bio-weapons lab in Long Island Sound? How banal.

Anyone who knows anything knows the really good shit is at Fort Detrick.

Re:Sooooo... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47193007)

Not *invented* there, but certainly released on an unsuspecting public to suppress Chemtrail theories and knowledge of the truth about 9/11.

It's clear that Conspiracy Keanu was right: dinosaurs were created by the CIA to discourage time travel. That gives them a lock on all the jurassic bacteria like this, which they can revitalize and weaponize!

"every species on the planet is parasitized" (1)

bytesex (112972) | about 4 months ago | (#47193915)

And "Parasites represent at least half of all modern animal species". Unless there's some Escher-like parasite-chain at work here, I don't think that this can be remotely true.

Re:"every species on the planet is parasitized" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47194941)

And "Parasites represent at least half of all modern animal species". Unless there's some Escher-like parasite-chain at work here, I don't think that this can be remotely true.

Why? When complexity goes up, diversity drops. The converse is true. Parasites are not complex creatures. It seems perfectly reasonable that out of the millions of species on this planet, most of those are simple life forms, and of that a high percentage are certainly parasitic.

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