UNH prof closes in on Lyme disease breakthrough
Excerpted from the New Haven Register ( Posted: 10/25/2012)
WEST HAVEN — A University of New Haven professor is on her way to determining why Lyme disease may be resistant to treatment, citing her diagnosis with the ailment eight years ago as motivation.
Research by Eva Sapi, an associate professor of biology and environmental science at the school, was published Wednesday and says bacteria causing Lyme disease can form a protective layer called biofilm over itself. That special coating may prevent antibiotics from attacking it.
“Why is this important? For other bacteria, biofilms are shown to be very resistant to antibiotics, temperature, anything you can throw at it, it’s protected from it. The bacteria protects itself from a harsh environment,” said Sapi, who is originally from Hungary and also studied at Yale.
Online publication PLOS-ONE, a peer-reviewed, international science journal that stands for the Public Library of Science ONE, printed the study, of which Sapi is the principal author.
Sapi learned she had Lyme disease, a tick-borne illness, about eight years ago after she began feeling ill and had started a job at UNH. Doctors performed tests for several months before they determined Lyme disease caused her symptoms.
“I became very ill to point that I couldn’t even walk … I was in the dark, and I didn’t know what to do, and in the meantime, I didn’t feel good,” Sapi said. “The whole experience really prompted me to look into this disease.”