A Pill That Kills Ticks Is a Promising New Weapon Against Lyme Disease

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If you person a canine aliases cat, chances are you’ve fixed your pet a flavored chewable tablet for tick prevention astatine immoderate point. What if you could return a akin pill to protect yourself from getting Lyme disease?

Tarsus Pharmaceuticals is processing specified a pill for humans—minus nan tasty flavoring—that could supply protection against nan tick-borne illness for respective weeks astatine a time. In February, nan Irvine, California–based biotech institution announced results from a small, early-stage trial showing that 24 hours aft taking nan drug, it tin termination ticks connected people, pinch nan effects lasting for up to 30 days.

“What we envision is thing that would protect you earlier nan tick would moreover wound you,” says Bobby Azamian, CEO of Tarsus.

Lyme illness is simply a fast-growing problem successful nan United States, wherever astir 476,000 group are diagnosed and treated for it each year, according to nan most caller data from nan Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That number is apt an overestimate, because galore patients are treated aft a tick wound moreover if an infection isn’t confirmed, but it underscores nan load of Lyme illness connected nan wellness attraction system—which researchers astatine nan CDC and Yale University put astatine astir $1 cardinal per year.

The illness is caused by nan germs Borrelia burgdorferi, which gets passed to humans done nan wound of an infected tick. In astir cases, a tick has to beryllium attached for astir 36 to 48 hours earlier nan germs tin beryllium transmitted. Symptoms see fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic tegument rash that looks for illustration a bullseye.

Without a vaccine for Lyme illness connected nan market, existent prevention includes utilizing insect repellents specified arsenic DEET and permethrin and wearing closed shoes, agelong pants, and agelong sleeves erstwhile successful a tick-infested area.

“We’ve seen expanding rates of tick-borne diseases complete nan years, contempt being told to do tick checks, usage DEET, and impregnate your apparel pinch permethrin,” says Paul Auwaerter, a professor of medicine astatine nan Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine who studies Lyme disease.

A much effective curen strategy would beryllium welcome, Auwaerter says, particularly because Lyme illness tin sometimes origin superior wellness issues. Antibiotics are usually effective erstwhile taken early, though astir 5 to 10 percent of patients can person lingering symptoms for weeks aliases months. If near untreated, nan infection tin dispersed to nan joints and origin arthritis. It tin besides go established successful nan bosom and tense system, causing persistent fatigue, numbness, aliases weakness.

The experimental pill that Tarsus Pharmaceuticals is testing is simply a formulation of lotilaner, a supplier that paralyzes and kills parasites by interfering pinch nan measurement that signals are passed betwixt their nervus cells. Lotilaner is already approved arsenic a veterinary medicine nether nan marque sanction Credelio to power fleas and ticks successful dogs and cats.

“Our animals person amended options than we do for tick prevention,” says Linden Hu, a professor of immunology astatine Tufts Medical School who led nan Tarsus trial. “There are rather a fewer narcotics and vaccines disposable for dogs and cats, but there's thing for us.”