Research Supported by Bay Area Lyme Foundation Shows Lower Immune Response Leads To Persistent Lyme Disease Symptoms

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

Research Supported by Bay Area Lyme Foundation Shows Lower Immune Response Leads To Persistent Lyme Disease Symptoms

Peer-reviewed Journal Frontiers in Immunology Publishes Important New Research From a Team Led by Bay Area Lyme Foundation’s First Emerging Leader Award Recipient

PORTOLA VALLEY, CA, August, 2018 — Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading nonprofit funder of innovative Lyme disease research in the US, today announced the publication of new data that offer valuable insights into the role of the immune system in fighting acute Lyme disease.

The data demonstrate a correlation between initial activation of specific components of the immune response, and a patient’s ability to recover following 21 days of doxycycline. Published in Frontiers in Immunology, the research, primarily funded by the Bay Area Lyme Foundation, was led by Lisa K. Blum, Ph.D., a former postdoctoral scholar at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Blum was one of the first recipients of the Bay Area Lyme Foundation Emerging Leader Award, a grant designed to support the research of promising scientists into Lyme disease and the bacteria that causes it, B. burgdorferi. 

“This research addresses one of the ongoing mysteries of Lyme disease, providing important evidence toward understanding why some people get better after a 21-day course of doxycycline, and some remain sick,” said Wendy Adams, research grant director, Bay Area Lyme Foundation. “The insights from this study not only show that both a competent immune response AND antibiotics are necessary to rid the infection, but also point us toward research avenues that could lead to new therapeutics.”

The data show that patients who did not demonstrate strong B-cell immune responses were more likely to experience post-treatment symptoms. Researchers found that the study participants who fully returned to health following 21 days of doxycycline treatment had significantly higher levels of a type of blood B cells, known as plasmablasts, prior to treatment than the patients who experienced persistent symptoms and met the criteria for diagnosis for post treatment Lyme disease syndrome (PTLDS) for at least 6 months following treatment. Importantly, the study also found that plasmablast levels may be useful in predicting which patients have a higher chance of treatment failure after a short course of antibiotics. These data confirm previous findings in some animal models showing demonstrable immune system suppression after infection and wide variability in the immune response among different animals after infection.

In addition to an association between plasmablasts and disease resolution, researchers also found that patients with persistent symptoms had a lower antibody response; more specifically, these patients exhibited reduced clonal expansion of B-cells.

Patients enrolled in the study consisted of 32 first-time Lyme patients exhibiting acute early-stage symptoms including a bull’s-eye-shaped rash, and 18 healthy participants who served as controls. Patients were treated with oral doxycycline treatment for 21 days, per Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) treatment guidelines. Blood tests, administered to Lyme disease patients at the pretreatment stage, 1-month post treatment, and 6-months post treatment, were analyzed using flow cytometry and antibody repertoire sequencing.  Samples from healthy controls were collected at an initial visit, 6 months, and 1 year. The definition of post treatment Lyme disease syndrome (PTLDS) for the purposes of the study are based on the IDSA’s proposed case definition.

Bay Area Lyme Foundation scientific advisory board members who contributed to the research included senior author William H. Robinson, M.D., Ph.D., Stanford University School of Medicine; Monica Embers, Ph.D., Tulane University; and John Aucott, M.D., Johns Hopkins University.

Lisa Blum, PhD, received the Bay Area Lyme Foundation Emerging Leader Award in 2014. Other Emerging Leader Award recipients have come from institutions including Brandeis University, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Louisiana State University, North Carolina State University and University of California, San Francisco. The most recent Emerging Leader Award winners were: George Church, Ph.D. and Ting Wu, Ph.D, who were each awarded a $250,000 grant to launch the Genomic Lyme Disease Research Initiative project at Harvard Medical School; and Michal Caspi Tal, Ph.D. and Steven E. Phillips, M.D. who each received $100,000 toward therapeutic research.

The Emerging Leader Awards from Bay Area Lyme Foundation were initiated based on a grant from the LaureL Foundation, and are currently made possible each year by a generous donation from the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation. This year, a supplemental donation by Emily and Malcolm Fairbairn enabled a fourth award, for a total of $700,000 in grants given. These awards are presented annually and are designed to be awarded to promising scientists who have identified a defined approach to improved diagnostics or therapeutics for Lyme disease. Researchers interested in applying for the 2019 Emerging Leader Award or learning about the other grants that Bay Area Lyme Foundation offers throughout the year should contact info@bayarealyme.org.

About Lyme disease

One of the fastest–growing infectious diseases in the country, Lyme disease is a potentially disabling infection caused by bacteria transmitted through the bite of an infected tick to people and pets. There are about 329,000 new cases of Lyme disease each year, according to statistics released in 2015 by the CDC. As a result of the difficulty in diagnosing and treating Lyme disease, as many as one million Americans may be suffering from the impact of its debilitating long-term symptoms and complications, according to Bay Area Lyme Foundation estimates.

About Bay Area Lyme Foundation

Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a national organization committed to making Lyme disease easy to diagnose and simple to cure, is the leading public foundation sponsor of innovative Lyme disease research in the US.  A 501c3 non-profit organization based in Silicon Valley, Bay Area Lyme Foundation collaborates with world-class scientists and institutions to accelerate medical breakthroughs for Lyme disease. It is also dedicated to providing reliable, fact-based information so that prevention and the importance of early treatment are common knowledge.  A pivotal donation from The LaureL STEM Fund covers all overhead costs and allows for 100% of all donor contributions to Bay Area Lyme Foundation to go directly to research and prevention programs. For more information about Lyme disease or to get involved, visit www.bayarealyme.org or call us at 650-530-2439

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National Dog Day is Sunday August 26th — Keep your Pets Tick and Lyme Safe!

Sunday, August 26th is NATIONAL DOG DAY and in honor of our furry four-legged friends, we wanted to share some tips and tactics for keeping you and your pet safe.

Lyme disease is on the rise — the geographic range and prevalence of Lyme-carrying ticks have expanded significantly in recent years, potentially due to climate change as well as many other factors. Here on the West Coast, temperate conditions mean that Lyme disease is almost a year-round (versus seasonal) threat.

Black-legged ticks prefer shaded, moist ground and leaf litter, but they can also be found clinging to tall grasses, brush, and shrubs. Ticks also inhabit gardens and lawns, particularly at the edge of wooded areas, around stone walls, and anywhere deer and white-footed mice (their most common animal hosts) might travel.

It is almost impossible to completely prevent an outdoor pet (or a human) from any tick encounters, there is simply too much exposure to natural tick habitats just outside our back doors. That being said, there are many simple things you can do to help reduce the risk of Lyme disease for you and your pet. Here we share some tips and some answers to the most commonly asked questions.

George Church, Ph.D., Ting Wu, Ph.D., Steven E. Phillips, M.D. and Michal Caspi Tal, Ph.D., Named Recipients of Bay Area Lyme Foundation’s 2018 Emerging Leader Award

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

George Church, Ph.D., Ting Wu, Ph.D., Steven E. Phillips, M.D. and Michal Caspi Tal, Ph.D., Named Recipients of Bay Area Lyme Foundation’s 2018 Emerging Leader Award

– Genomics, immunotherapy and unraveling the stealth attributes of Lyme disease are the focus of the 2018 Emerging Leader Award projects, designed to inspire new Lyme disease research –

PORTOLA VALLEY, Calif., May 14, 2018—Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the U.S., announces the recipients of the 2018 Emerging Leader Awards, which are designed to encourage promising scientists who embody the future of Lyme disease-research leadership. George Church, Ph.D. and Ting Wu, Ph.D. will each be awarded a $250,000 grant to launch the Genomic Lyme Disease Research Initiative project at Harvard Medical School, and Michal Caspi Tal, Ph.D. and Steven E. Phillips, M.D. will each receive $100,000 toward therapeutic research related to immunotherapy and an innovative new drug aimed at eliminating chronic tick-borne infections, respectively. Lyme disease is a potentially devastating infection impacting more than 300,000 Americans each year.

New Study Finds Lyme Bacteria Survive a 28-day Course of Antibiotics When Treated Four Months After Infection by Tick Bite

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

New Study Finds Lyme Bacteria Survive a 28-day Course of Antibiotics When Treated Four Months After Infection by Tick Bite

All subjects treated with antibiotics were found to have some level of infection 7–12 months post treatment.Despite testing negative by antibody tests for Lyme disease, two of 10 subjects were still infected with Lyme bacteria in heart and bladder. Lyme bacteria which persist are still viable.

Portola Valley, California, Dec. 13, 2017—Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the US, today announced results of two papers published in the peer-reviewed journals PLOS ONE and American Journal of Pathology, that seem to support claims of lingering symptoms reported by many patients who have already received antibiotic treatment for the disease.

Getting to the Heart of the Issue – Lyme Carditis: Why Early Diagnosis is Critical

by Wendy Adams, Research Grant Director and Advisory Board Member, Bay Area Lyme Foundation

 

Recently, we’ve started to hear more about Lyme carditis as one potentially lethal manifestation of Lyme disease.  What exactly is it, why does it happen, and how does it cause disease?

What is Lyme Carditis?

First of all, a little Latin.  When you see the suffix “-itis”, it denotes inflammation – often caused by an infection.  So, carditis literally means inflammation of the heart.

When a Borrelia infection enters the body, we know from animal studies that it disseminates quickly.  It tries to find the tissues where it is most comfortable, and often that includes the heart.  Borrelia can infect all parts of the heart – the myocardium, the pericardium, and the endocardium, the cardiac muscle, the valves, and even the aorta itself.  The immune system senses the presence of the spirochete bacteria and induces inflammation, the first prong of the immune system’s response.

Why Is Lyme Disease Not Covered by Insurance?

by Daniel Lynch, Founder & President, Medical Bill Gurus

This week, we have a guest post from Daniel Lynch. Daniel Lynch is the founder of Medical Bill Gurus, a patient and physician advocacy company that specializes in navigating the complex issues associated with healthcare and medical bills. His mission, he explains is to “utilize our wealth of information to ‘pay it forward’ to those who need assistance! … Although most claims for Lyme disease are typically at cash-only medical providers and not covered by insurance companies, we at Medical Bill Gurus have put together a process of breaking down bills, and identifying components of treatment that are covered by PPO insurance plans.”

Here he shares his perspective and some tips. Bay Area Lyme Foundation has no connection with Medical Bill Gurus and this post is not an endorsement of their services. At Bay Area Lyme, we are committed to supporting the community by ensuring access to information and resources to help them deal with Lyme disease.

Bay Area Lyme Foundation Awards Grants to Researchers Exploring Novel Ways to Detect, Treat Lyme Disease

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

Bay Area Lyme Foundation Awards Grants to Researchers Exploring Novel Ways to Detect, Treat Lyme Disease

Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Brandeis University Researchers are the Awardees of the 2017 Emerging Leader Awards

Portola Valley, Calif., July 11, 2017 – Bay Area Lyme Foundation, the leading national nonprofit funder of innovative Lyme disease research, today announced that the winners of its 2017 Emerging Leader Award, are James J. Collins, PhD, Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Yuko Nakajima, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, Brandeis University. Dr. Collins was awarded a $250,000 grant to research an RNA direct detection diagnostic for early Lyme disease, while Dr. Nakajima received a $100,000 grant to investigate potential treatments to block immune evasion by the bacteria causing Lyme disease.

Bay Area Lyme Foundation’s LymeAid 2017 Raises $850,000 to Boost Lyme Disease Research

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

Bay Area Lyme Foundation’s LymeAid 2017 Raises $850,000 to Boost Lyme Disease Research

The event highlights the increasing level of scientific commitment toward Lyme disease and fosters much-needed investment and research in diagnostics and treatments for the disease

Portola Valley, CA (May 22, 2016) – Bay Area Lyme Foundation, the leading public not-for-profit sponsor of innovative Lyme disease research in the US, brought together scientists, philanthropists, celebrities and patients for the fifth annual LymeAid®, an event aimed at making Lyme disease easy to diagnose and simple to cure.  The benefit dinner and concert raised more than $850,000, of which 100% will go directly to fund research for Lyme disease. During the past 5 years, the event has collectively raised $2.4 million specifically for Lyme disease research.

National Lyme BioBank: Enabling a New Wave of Lyme Research

nldb-bannerThe national Lyme Disease Biobank (LDB) launched in Summer 2014 after a successful Fund-A-Need campaign at our annual LymeAid benefit. This initiative, which began with a pilot study in East Hampton, NY, a highly concentrated endemic area for Lyme disease, was designed to help address the shortage of clinical samples to support research into better diagnostics and treatments for Lyme disease. The goal is to create a geographically diverse and robust pool of biological samples (particularly blood, but also tissue and other fluids) characterized with sufficient clinical data and validation information about any co-infections that can then be drawn upon by researchers around the country, allowing for more projects to come to fruition. The biobank has already expanded significantly and released the first samples to researchers last year, supporting a new wave of projects.

Liz HornLiz Horn, PhD, MBI, a noted expert experienced in building complex biorepositories and other bio-based technological solutions working with a wide array of researchers, institutions, and other agencies, was brought on as the Principal Investigator for the LDB. Dr. Horn has deep expertise in basic science, cancer biology, bioinformatics, registry questionnaire design, and biobank planning and operations.

We talked with Dr. Horn about the progress they have been making at the Lyme Disease Biobank.

Participating in Clinical Research: Another Treatment Alternative?

Lyme disease, particularly with chronic or late-stage symptoms, can be a horribly frustrating and debilitating illness. Symptoms can persist despite complicated treatment regimens; therapies that seem successful at first may become less effective over time; and medications that work for some appear to have no effect for others. Add to that the high cost of treatment, the complicating challenges of co-infections, and insufficient insurance coverage for both traditional and alternative treatment, and it quickly becomes apparent why clinical studies offer potential for patients who are still suffering.

For many patients, the promise of participating in a clinical trial is not just the hope for new discoveries but a more immediate opportunity to access treatment options they may not otherwise be able to secure or afford. But is clinical research the “holy grail” for these patients who are seeking another option? What are the pros and cons of clinical research? What do you need to know?