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MedUni Vienna tests gel for the prophylaxis of borreliosis: volunteer test subjects sought

(Vienna 13th September 2011) Borreliosis, or Lyme disease, is the most common tick-borne disease. In Austria, around 50,000 people a year contract the condition. At the MedUni Vienna, a promising gel is now being tested which has reduced infection rates in in-vivo studies from 33 to zero per cent, even if the gel was only applied three days after the tick bite, which is actually a sting. The MediUni Vienna is currently seeking volunteers with tick bites for the clinical study.

If the study confirms the results from the research carried out so far, it will open up completely new treatment possibilities for borreliosis: "Then we could finally also treat this disease prophylactically," says lead investigator Bernd Jilma from the Department of Clinical Pharmacology at the MedUni Vienna within the General Hospital Vienna. Until now, Lyme disease has been treated with systemic antibiotics - however the treatment is only commenced when the first symptoms develop, such as headache and joint pain, fatigue, fever or - in the later stages of the disease - cramps or paralysis as well as inflammation of the heart muscle.

The advantage of the new gel is that, as soon as the tick bites, treatment can begin. The pathogens are destroyed locally in the skin. "The in-vivo studies have shown that the gel works almost 100% of the time, which is a revolutionary discovery," says Jilma. No side effects have been reported either. Approval should therefore come very quickly. Says Jilma: "Because of the low dose of the drug and the local application, none of the usual side effects characteristic of antibiotics or the active ingredient are expected. The gel has also proved to be very well tolerated on the skin."

Test subjects must still be "in possession" of their bite
The study is looking for people who have discovered a tick bite within the last three days, are aged between 18 and 80 and are still "in possession of their bite", says Jilma. "In other words, they have kept the tick or it is still stuck in their skin". This will allow scientists to determine whether the tick was infected with borrelia or not.

The aim of the study is to investigate the safety and effectiveness of the drug; it is a gel containing the active ingredient azithromycin. This gel is applied twice daily directly to the site of the tick bite for a period of three days. Anyone interested in learning more can visit

The efficacy already proven in animal models will be published in mid-September under the title "Evaluation of an antibiotic-containing formulation for prophylactic treatment of Lyme borreliosis in a murine infection model" (Straubinger et al.) in the current issue of the specialist magazine "Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy".