Spector discusses what Lyme disease has in common with cancer in recent interview

Monday, February 29, 2016

Neil Spector, MD, Sandra Coates Associate Professor of Medicine (Medical Oncology) and associate professor of pharmacology and cancer biology, recently discussed his book "Gone in a Heartbeat: A Physician's Search for True Healing," with a Huffington Post blogger.

In the interview, Dr. Spector discusses his experience with Lyme disease and the similarities he sees between Lyme disease and cancer:

"I also think it's ridiculous that nobody in the mainstream Lyme research world has given too much thought to the whole resistance issue. In cancer, it's been known for decades. We are always trying to figure out how tumor cells evade the immune system or resist chemotherapy, so the fact that persisters are such a new phenomenon to them, is shocking. Why wouldn't this bacteria figure out how to evade the immune system and antibiotic therapy? We already know this is true for syphilis; they're sister diseases.

We need to understand the molecular biology of the bacteria, too. Part of the whole metastatic infectious nature of Lyme is the changing of shapes--the classic screwdriver verses the cystic form--and cancer cells are the same way. They change shapes and become less sensitive to chemo; they become more aggressive, mobile, and invasive. And so in cancer, we aim to target the new shape to our therapeutic advantage.

We also need to think out of the box with treatments, the way we have with cancer. I feel there's too much reliance on antibiotics. Antibiotics will be the mainstay, like chemo is in cancer, but we need more targeted therapies. There's very good animal data from the Lyme literature suggesting why some strains end up in the heart verses joints verses brain. Those are not random events, just like they're not in cancer. It's not karma or bad luck. There are biological reasons for this. It's important to understand that because there may be ways to block it, and the answer may not be antibiotic-based."

Read the full interview