Fueling the Research Engine

Lyme Disease Biobank

BAL Leading the Way Series

 

How a chance meeting and the harnessing of big data led to a research initiative that’s finding answers in Lyme and tick-borne disease

Many different groups comprise the Lyme disease community including patients, their families, healthcare providers, researchers and nonprofit organizations. These nonprofit organizations and foundations may differ in size, structure, fiscal basis, focus and approach, but in one important aspect they are united: the search for answers.

This search for answers in the realm of Lyme and tick-borne diseases has served as a unifying driver, even when dissent and controversy has sometimes fragmented the Lyme community.  And despite what seems to be a constant uphill battle for recognition and legitimacy of Lyme and tick-borne infections, many believe that we’re on the brink of major breakthroughs to help patients and doctors unlock the medical mysteries that make these infectious diseases so confounding. Two people cautiously optimistic about where we are in the search for answers about Lyme are Liz Horn, PhD, MBI, Principal Investigator, Lyme Disease Biobank, and Lorraine Johnson, JD, MBA, Chief Executive Officer, LymeDisease.org and Principal Investigator MyLymeData.

The Future of Lyme Diagnostics: How Wearable Technology May Lead to Fast, Accurate and Reliable Lyme Disease Detection

Mike Snyder PhD Wearables Project

BAL Leading the Way Series

 

Remember when we used to watch Captain Kirk talk into his chirping communicator and order Scotty to beam him up? And what about that handy medical scanner the size of a pack of cards that Dr. McCoy waved around to assess and diagnose his patients in the starship’s sick bay? We may now all have smartphones to stay in constant touch with each other, but outside of a state-of-the-art hospital with multi-million-dollar scanners and MRI machines, we are still some years away from the Star Fleet’s instantaneous medical technology, right? 

Wrong.

Advances in our ability to gather real-time information on the human body are poised to revolutionize not just how we diagnose diseases, but make dramatic, life-altering, positive impacts on the critical timeline for diagnosis and treatment by detecting a disease event before symptoms occur. And Bay Area Lyme is leading the way by investing in research that will further illuminate our understanding of how—in real time—a Lyme infection impacts the human body through the data collected by wearable technologies.

Lyme With a Side—or Two—of Babesia: The Most Common Co-Infection that is Frequently Missed

Babesia parasites inside red blood cell

Written by: Wendy Adams, Research Grant Director & Advisory Board Member, Bay Area Lyme Foundation

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years, you’ll have learned that tick-borne diseases are on the rise across the United States. Many theories exist as to why this is the case. However, most scientists that study ticks and their habitats agree that a combination of reasons—including climate change and human encroachment into tick habitats—are at least partially to blame.

Although Lyme disease (caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi) is the most common disease that humans acquire from tick bites, ticks can unfortunately transmit several other bacteria, viruses, and parasites to humans. Multiple infections can even be transmitted during the same bite. The confusing and overlapping disease symptoms caused by multiple infections makes it extremely difficult for doctors to recognize, diagnose and treat the different infections.

Calling All Scientists: Bay Area Lyme Foundation Now Accepting Applications for 2022 Emerging Leader Award

ELA winner Michael Rout

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Calling All Scientists: Bay Area Lyme Foundation Now Accepting Applications for 2022 Emerging Leader Award 

Grant aims to inspire new research for the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease

PORTOLA VALLEY, California, December 6, 2021—Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the US, is announcing a call for entries for their 2022 Emerging Leader Awards (ELA), which recognize U.S. researchers from academia or the private sector who bring new approaches to the field of Lyme disease and embody the future of Lyme disease research leadership. At least two grants in the amount $100,000 each will be awarded. Proposals must have a defined scientific approach and rationale that can advance diagnostics or treatments for Lyme disease, and applicants are encouraged to bring innovative learnings from other therapeutic areas to their research projects. Applications will be accepted through March 15, 2022, at midnight Pacific Time. The full criteria and application for this grant award can be found here.

“The world is seeing firsthand the damage that infections can cause—both in acute and chronic forms. Just has COVID has encouraged collaboration, we hope that existing Lyme scientists as well as scientists from other disease areas will apply for this grant, offering new hypotheses and technologies to diagnose and treat Lyme and other tick-borne disease,” said Wendy Adams, research grant director, Bay Area Lyme Foundation. 

Herbal Medicines Demonstrate Potency Against Bartonella, a Disease-causing Pathogen, According to New Lab Study

Herbal Medicines Demonstrate Potency Against Bartonella

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

Herbal Medicines Demonstrate Potency Against Bartonella, a Disease-causing Pathogen, According to New Lab Study

Three of these herbal medicines also have high potency against Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, and Babesia duncani, according to previous lab studies also funded by Bay Area Lyme Foundation

PORTOLA VALLEY, CA, August 5, 2021—Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the U.S., today announced the publication of new data showing that herbal medicines have potent activity in test tubes compared to pharmaceuticals commonly-prescribed for the treatment of Bartonella henselae, a bacterium believed  to be carried by ticks and the cause of cat scratch fever. This is the first study to find antimicrobial activity of some of these herbal medicines. Published in the journal Infectious Microbes & Diseases, the laboratory study was funded in part by the Bay Area Lyme Foundation.

“With increasing rates of tick-borne diseases and a consistent concern about the overuse of antibiotics, this early research of herbals is extremely exciting,” said Linda Giampa, executive director, Bay Area Lyme Foundation. “We are hopeful that future pre-clinical and clinical studies will continue to show that herbals have the same effectiveness as this study and other recently-published studies.”

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

2021 Emerging Leader Awards

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact:
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.

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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Media Contact:
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.

The Connection Between Mold Illness and Lyme Disease

Many experts agree that if you are a patient being treated for chronic Lyme disease, but are not getting better, underlying mold toxicity could be at fault. Mold illnesses and Lyme Disease share many symptoms and if all treatments have been exhausted for Lyme with no result, mold could be the hidden offender. According to the book New Paradigms in Lyme Disease Treatment“mold toxicity causes patients to develop symptoms from Lyme infections and vice versa, and people with weakened immune systems are far more susceptible to sickness from mold…and doctors are just beginning to understand and explore it, and like Lyme disease, many conventional physicians are not even aware of it.”

Many people know that black mold poses a huge threat, but are unfamiliar with other types of mold causing health issues. Mold illness causes extreme inflammation, called chronic inflammatory response syndrome (CIRS) and when coupled with Lyme disease, symptoms such as fever, headache, and fatigue are exacerbated. Often, mold-related allergies are misdiagnosed or worse, many doctors assume the problems are psychosomatic. Because of this, many people are not aware they are suffering from CIRS plus Lyme disease simultaneously.

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.

New Study Shows Less Than One-Third of Lyme Disease Test Results are Accurate for Patients with Lyme Rash

Lyme Disease Biobank

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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

New Study Shows Less Than One-Third of Lyme Disease Test Results are Accurate for Patients with Lyme Rash

Journal of Clinical Microbiology Publishes Lyme Disease Biobank Data Describing Samples Available for Research on Tick-Borne Infections

Portola Valley, Calif., February 26, 2020—Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the U.S., announces results published in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology, that point to limitations of currently available diagnostic tests for early-stage Lyme disease and highlight the need for more research toward improved diagnostics and treatments. Among the findings, the Centers for Disease Control’s Standard Two-tier Testing Algorithm (STTTA) for Lyme disease failed to accurately diagnose 71% of blood samples from individuals presenting with a Lyme rash, also known as an erythema migrans, greater than 5 cm in endemic areas. These samples are part of the Lyme Disease Biobank (LDB), which was founded to catalyze new research in the understanding, diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections. Samples are available for research use through an application process to scientists who already work in tick-borne infections, as well as those new to the field.