How Do You Build a Biobank to Solve the Problem of Lyme Disease? Literally – One Tick Bite at a Time

Lyme Disease Biobank

Written by: Jo Ellis, Bay Area Lyme Volunteer and Supporter

Science is all about asking questions and finding answers. It attracts the curious, the driven, the questioners and fact seekers—the people who won’t accept the status quo and who are always pushing to learn more. If we keep asking science the right questions, we’re bound to get to the right answers eventually. It’s simple, right?

Unfortunately, not. As with everything about Lyme disease the answers to the questions are not so simple. Lyme is a complicated, nuanced disease with many challenging attributes, so much so that even the most experienced clinicians and medical researchers struggle to understand the many ways the infection impacts the human body. So, if you’re going to try and solve the puzzle of Lyme disease, where is the best place to start? How do you get all the pieces in place to move the needle to solve the complexity of this disease?

Enter Bay Area Lyme Foundation and Principal Investigator, Liz Horn PhD, MBI. When they were planning this project, they asked research scientists in the field of Lyme disease what were their big obstacles to finding out more about Lyme? What did scientists need so that they could start chipping away at the conundrum of this horrible disease?

Bay Area Lyme Foundation Partners with American Junior Golf Association to Provide Critical Education About Tick-borne Disease

Golfers are at high risk for Lyme disease

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Tara DiMilia, 908-947-0500, tara.dimilia@TMstrat.com

Bay Area Lyme Foundation Partners with American Junior Golf Association to Provide Critical Education About Tick-borne Disease

Golf is Estimated to Be Among the Highest Risk Sports for Contracting Lyme and Other Tick-borne Diseases

Portola Valley, CA, July 15, 2021 — Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the US, and the American Junior Golf Association have announced a new partnership aimed at educating young golfers about Lyme disease and providing tips for preventing tick bites. For this partnership, Bay Area Lyme Foundation will provide prevention materials, tick removal keys, Tick Tock Naturals® organic tick repellent and Sawyer® picaridin lotion to all AJGA members. In addition, Bay Area Lyme Foundation will become a Leadership Links charity partner, and two tournaments will be named for the Foundation by the end of 2023.

“As former AJGA and Harvard Division 1 golfers, my brother and I wish we had been educated on the risks associated with Lyme disease and the prevalence of ticks throughout the U.S., and ways to prevent being bitten,” said Nina Fairbairn (AJGA ’13, Harvard ’17), an investment partner who volunteers for Bay Area Lyme Foundation as an Advisory Board member and is spearheading this partnership for the Foundation. “Few golfers seem aware of the risks and even fewer take precautions, and it’s imperative for us to change this.”

Golf courses are a hotbed for ticks that can carry Lyme disease. Ticks flourish in areas between woods and open spaces, which is the exact terrain of golf courses, and live on the small forest animals that often occupy golf courses. Lyme disease is the most common vector borne illness in the United States with at least 476,000 new cases each year.

Bay Area Lyme Foundation Selects National Winners of the 2021 Emerging Leader Awards to Advance Research for the Diagnosis and Treatment of Lyme Disease

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Tara DiMilia, 908-947-0500, tara.dimilia@TMstrat.com

Bay Area Lyme Foundation Selects National Winners of the 2021 Emerging Leader Awards to Advance Research for the Diagnosis and Treatment of Lyme Disease

Brandon Jutras, PhD of Virginia Tech, Nitya Ramadoss, PhD of Stanford University and Michael P. Rout, PhD of The Rockefeller University are this year’s recipients

PORTOLA VALLEY, Calif., July 6th, 2021—Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the U.S., announces the recipients of the 2021 Emerging Leader Awards (ELA), which are designed to support promising scientists who represent the future of Lyme disease research leadership. Michael P. Rout, PhD of The Rockefeller University will receive $250,000 for his work with nanobodies to develop a sensitive point-of-care diagnostic. Brandon Jutras, PhD of Virginia Tech and Nitya Ramadoss, PhD of Stanford University will each receive $100,000 toward the development of a novel direct-detection diagnostic approach for Lyme disease and a novel therapeutic based on B-cell mapping, respectively. Lyme disease is a potentially disabling infection diagnosed in nearly half a million Americans each year.

“As there is not a diagnosis or treatment that works for all patients, there is a critical need to develop direct-detection diagnostics as well as treatments that can prevent the development of persistent Lyme disease, and we are excited to support these novel approaches that have shown success in other areas,” said Linda Giampa, executive director, Bay Area Lyme Foundation.

Two of the award winners will utilize biological samples from the Lyme Disease Biobank, a program of the Bay Area Lyme Foundation, to collect well-characterized human tissue, blood and urine specimens to accelerate research of Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections.

Ticks Carrying Disease Found to Be Abundant in Beach Areas, Similar to Woodlands, According to New Study

Ticks Carrying Disease Found to Be Abundant in Beach Areas

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Tara DiMilia, 908-947-0500, tara.dimilia@TMstrat.com

 

Ticks Carrying Disease Found to Be Abundant in Beach Areas, Similar to Woodlands, According to New Study

Study Funded by Bay Area Lyme Foundation Also Shows Ticks in Northern California Carry a Diversity of Disease-causing Bacteria at Higher Rates Than Previously Reported

Portola Valley, CA, April 23, 2021—Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the US, today announced results of a study demonstrating that adult Western black-legged ticks (Ixodes pacificus) carrying Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, were found in beach areas at equal rates to the woodland habitats in parts of northwestern California. Further, researchers, who were testing ticks for up to 5 species of tick-borne bacteria, found that the collective infection rate of all species was as high as 31% in at least one area, which offers a different perspective from previous studies that tested for a single species of bacteria in a specific area or areas. Conducted by researchers at Colorado State University, Northern Arizona State University and Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), and published in the June issue of the peer-reviewed journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology (AEM), the research points to the need for greater education for both the community at large and healthcare providers about the risks of tick-borne disease.

“The high rate of disease-carrying ticks in the coastal chaparral was really surprising to us. And when looking at all the tick-borne pathogens simultaneously, it makes you rethink the local disease risk,” said Lead Author Daniel Salkeld, PhD, Colorado State University. “Previously, we, along with other researchers, may have missed the big picture when we focused our attention on investigating the risk of one pathogen at a time. Now, we have a new imperative to look at the collective risk of all tick-borne pathogens in an area.”

Five Herbal Medicines Potent Against Tick-Borne Disease Babesiosis in Lab, Says New Study

Five Herbal Medicines Potent Against Tick-borne Disease Babesiosis in Lab says Dr Sunjya Schweig

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Tara DiMilia, 908-947-0500, tara.dimilia@TMstrat.com

Five Herbal Medicines Potent Against Tick-Borne Disease Babesiosis in Lab, Says New Study

Research Supported by Bay Area Lyme Foundation Points to Need for More Effective Treatments Compared to Currently Utilized Treatments for Tick-Borne Infections

PORTOLA VALLEY, CA, March 9, 2021 — Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the U.S., today announced the publication of new data finding that five herbal medicines had potent activity compared to commonly-used antibiotics in test tubes against Babesia duncani, a malaria-like parasite found on the West Coast of the U.S. that causes the disease babesiosis. Published in the journal Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology, the laboratory study was funded in part by the Bay Area Lyme Foundation. Collaborating researchers were from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, California Center for Functional Medicine, and FOCUS Health Group, Naturopathic.

“This research is particularly important as babesiosis is a significant emerging health risk. Due to limited therapeutics and a rise in treatment resistance, current treatment options for this disease are inadequate and many patients rely on herbal therapies for which there is only anecdotal evidence of efficacy,” said co-author Sunjya K. Schweig, MD, Founder and Director, California Center for Functional Medicine and Scientific Advisory Board Member, Bay Area Lyme Foundation, who has also studied herbal treatments for Lyme disease.

“Increasingly, Americans with chronic diseases are pursuing complementary and alternative medicine to improve general health or quality of life. We hope this data offers inspiration to other researchers to further explore similar options for people living with persistent tick-borne diseases that do not respond to current treatments,” added Dr. Schweig.

Bay Area Lyme Foundation Announces Call for Entries for the 2021 Emerging Leader Awards

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Media Contact:
Tara DiMilia, 908-947-0500, tara.dimilia@TMstrat.com

Bay Area Lyme Foundation Announces Call for Entries for the 2021 Emerging Leader Awards

Grant aims to inspire new research toward overcoming the challenges of Lyme disease

PORTOLA VALLEY, Calif., November 17, 2020—Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the US, is announcing a call for entries for their 2021 Emerging Leader Awards (ELA), which are designed to encourage scientists who embody the future of Lyme disease research leadership in the US. This year, two grants, $250,000, and $100,000 will be awarded. Recipients will be researchers from academia or the private sector in the US. who have not necessarily conducted previous research in tick-borne diseases. All applicants are encouraged to bring learnings from other therapeutic areas to their research projects. Their proposal must have a defined scientific approach and rationale that can advance diagnostics or treatments for Lyme disease. Applications will be accepted through February 15, 2021, at midnight pacific. The full criteria and application for this award can be found here.

“This year has given us all the opportunity to consider the great importance of medical research and the devastation that can arise when a pathogen is not well-understood by the medical and scientific community,” said Wendy Adams, research grant director, Bay Area Lyme Foundation. “We clearly need novel approaches to make Lyme disease easy to diagnose and simple to cure, and we hope these awards offer the support that innovative researchers require.”

Bay Area Lyme Foundation Launches Ticktective™ Podcast

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Tara DiMilia, 908-947-0500, tara.dimilia@TMstrat.com

Bay Area Lyme Foundation Launches Ticktective™ Podcast

PORTOLA VALLEY, Calif., September 30, 2020 — Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the US, announces the launch of the Ticktective podcast and video series.  Ticktective is a Bay Area Lyme Foundation program designed to investigate the latest scientific knowledge and advances in Lyme and tick-borne diseases. The podcast offers insightful discussion with researchers, physicians, patients, and thought leaders in the field.

“Because the science surrounding tick-borne disease is so complex and there are so many unanswered questions, Ticktective aims to share firsthand perspectives about the challenges of Lyme in ways that will intrigue more scientists, physicians and patients to join our battle towards making Lyme disease easy to diagnose and simple to cure,” said Linda Giampa, executive director, Bay Area Lyme Foundation.

There are more than 400,000 people diagnosed with Lyme disease each year in the US, and millions of Americans live with persistent Lyme disease (PLD) caused by an ongoing bacterial infection. The current “gold standard” diagnostic for Lyme disease misses up to 60% of cases of early stage Lyme disease, and if not treated promptly, Lyme may progress to a debilitating stage, becoming difficult, or impossible, to cure. Bay Area Lyme Foundation has funded over 100 research projects at 37 institutions across the US in a mission to find solutions for these patients.

Santa Clara County Declares Lyme Disease Awareness

SAN JOSE, Calif., Aug. 13, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors unanimously declared Lyme Disease Awareness in the County. The proposal, put forward by Supervisor Dave Cortese, brings a heightened and renewed focus on a growing public health crisis in the County.

On May 13, the Santa Clara County also promoted National Lyme Disease Awareness Month and the Center for Disease Control’s “Tick Lunch and Learn Series” on the County’s social media presence.

“With our belief that being outside is safer than being inside in preventing COVID-19 transmissions, it is important that we call attention to Lyme Disease, which is also a significant public health threat,” said Supervisor Dave Cortese. “Thank you to the Bay Area Lyme Foundation for bringing awareness to this tick-borne disease and the precautions we can take to prevent it.”

Lyme Disease and its co-infections represent the fastest-growing vector-borne disease in the country. Representing a significant public health threat, Lyme is an infectious disease transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected blacklegged tick, found in 56 out of 58 counties in California—or 97 percent. Early detection is key for a quick recovery, and that is where awareness can be life-altering.

Jacob Lemieux, MD, DPhil and Artem Rogovskyy, DVM, PhD Named Recipients of Bay Area Lyme Foundation’s 2020 Emerging Leader Award

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Media Contact:
Tara DiMilia, 908-947-0500, tara.dimilia@TMstrat.com

Jacob Lemieux, MD, DPhil and Artem Rogovskyy, DVM, PhD Named Recipients of Bay Area Lyme Foundation’s 2020 Emerging Leader Award

Biobank Samples to Aid 2020 Emerging Leader Award Winners in Discovery of New Rapid and Sensitive Diagnostics for Lyme Disease Testing

PORTOLA VALLEY, Calif., August 11, 2020 — Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the U.S., announces the recipients of the 2020 Emerging Leader Awards, which are designed to support promising scientists who represent the future of Lyme disease-research leadership. Jacob Lemieux, MD, DPhil of Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital, and Artem Rogovskyy, DVM, PhD of Texas A&M University will each receive $100,000 toward the development of novel direct-detection diagnostic approaches for Lyme disease. Both researchers will utilize biological samples from the Lyme Disease Biobank, a program of the Bay Area Lyme Foundation, working to accelerate research of Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections. Lyme disease is a potentially disabling infection impacting more than 400,000 Americans each year.

“The value of research proposed by our grant recipients is vital to our mission of making Lyme disease easy to diagnose and simple to cure.  In this year of COVID-19, we are pleased to have the opportunity to continue our grant program to fund the important work of these scientists addressing the most crucial requirement for Lyme disease – an accurate diagnostic test,” said Linda Giampa, executive director, Bay Area Lyme Foundation.

New Therapeutics for Infectious Diseases

– Wendy Adams, Research Grant Director, Bay Area Lyme Foundation

This pandemic has brought many different modalities in diagnostics, drug development and vaccines to the popular press. In the Tick-borne Disease (TBD) community, we have seen the issues that arise when the timely diagnosis and treatment of infectious disease are hampered by insensitive diagnostics and ineffective treatments.

It bears repeating however, that drugs that fight the infection in question (antibiotics, antiparasitics, or antivirals) are a large part of any eventual solution to an outbreak, especially in advance of a vaccine (see HIV). Antimicrobial therapeutics help keep the pathogen from replicating uncontrolled, allowing the complicated immune system processes to catch up to it, control it and then eradicate it.

One specific treatment modality is being widely discussed: monoclonal antibodies (mAbs). These are the drugs upon which the whole biotech industry and companies like Genentech, Biogen and Amgen were literally built. Six out of the top 10 drugs by sales are mAbs, mostly for oncology and autoimmune disease indications. However, mAbs have not been commonly used for infectious disease (with one major exception we’ll talk about later).

What are monoclonal antibodies? How do they work?

Antibodies are proteins made by the mammalian immune system. They are a workhorse of the acquired immune response and fight specific antigens, which can be anything from an invading pathogen to an aberrant cell or cytokine that needs destruction. Monoclonal antibodies as a drug class are also very specific and only bind to one antigen. They can bind to a single receptor on the outside of a cell, so that cell can’t receive or send out a message. Or the cell can be tagged so the immune system recognizes the cell as foreign and can destroy it. Binding only one target is important to reduce side effects caused by binding to multiple targets.