Biochemistry Redux

Doxycycline and I have a ‘history’. Not totally a good one. Doxy is the medication given prophylactically when you are bit by a tick. Some doctors recognize waiting for the red ‘bull’s eye’ of Lyme disease before treatment may not be a good idea; others don’t.

The second time I was tick bit I had a doctor that gave me the doxy as a precaution. The first time I was bit I had a doctor who withheld it.

Having some clue of what can happen to a body that has contracted Lyme’s, I was livid. Fortunately – or unfortunately – I had access to about half a vial of veterinary doxy. See it coming?

Do not try this at home! I took the doggie doxy and apparently took a little too much. Doxycycline produces photosensitivity. I won’t bore you with the chemistry (I researched it at the time), but suffice it to say, the molecular structure of doxy is such that it will store light energy and release it over time. You ‘sunburn’ from the inside out! Don’t need a reference for this. This is personal experience talking. I had second degree sunburn in about a half an hour.

The moral of that story is avoid doggy doxy. Once more I am the star of a cautionary tale. Oy vey!

But the reason I even mention doxy and our conflicted relationship is this: Oracea is doxycycline and it is being researched as treatment for geographic atrophy. There may be hope for my relationship with doxy yet!

According to the good people at Medscape (3/12/17) doxy is being researched as a method of treating low-grade inflammation resulting from alternative complementary pathway activity in geographic atrophy.

The alternative complementary immune system in me is ‘the gang that couldn’t shoot straight’. My good cells are being taken out by ‘friendly fire’. Reducing the effects of the alternative complementary immune system in me would be a good thing. [Lin/Linda: Sue’s referring to what she found out from a genetic test she had. Click here to read more about this.]

The Medscape article veers into uncharted waters for me but I will attempt to translate. It appears doxy can interfere with some of the molecular pathways – read series of actions that are supposed to produce something – that end up creating the conditions that lead to geographic atrophy. It lists oxygen species, matrix metalloproteinase, caspase activation, cytokine production and complement activation. Oh, good grief! Social scientist here! Never took biochemistry.

According to Wikipedia, reactive oxygen species are a normal byproduct of the metabolism of oxygen. In times of environmental stress on the cells, levels can build. It ties in with oxidative stress.

Matrix metalloproteinase are enzymes that break down matrix proteins (don’t ask because I don’t know!). Caspases are enzymes having to do with programmed cell death and cytokines are used by cells to send messages to other cells.

Did I mention I am not a biochemist? Don’t understand it except to say it all – magically! – has something to do with causing divots in maculas. Doxy is supposed to, maybe, could be, slow it down.

Clinical trials of doxycycline – under the brand name of Oracea – are underway. Check clinicaltrials.gov for locations near you. I doubt they would give you too much, but just the same, try to stay out of the sun!

Next: One Good Eye

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