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.

Lyme Disease Biobank Expands Into San Diego

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

Lyme Disease Biobank Expands Into San Diego

Legislative Commendations Support Importance of New Collection Site’s Efforts To Elevate Research

San Diego, CA, March 6, 2020—Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the U.S., announces the opening of the San Diego collection site of the Bay Area Lyme Foundation’s Lyme Disease Biobank, which is the first program to provide researchers with blood and urine samples from people with early Lyme disease from multiple endemic regions across the country. Congressman Scott Peters and Council member Chris Cate are scheduled to speak at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new collection site, and Council President Pro Tem Barbara Bry, Senator Toni Atkins, and Assembly member Todd Gloria will send representatives to issue commendations to support this event.

“Lyme disease is a growing problem in the County of San Diego, because many of our residents travel to or relocate from other more highly endemic areas and it is also possible to be infected locally,” said Sharon Wampler, PhD, who was instrumental in bringing Bay Area Lyme Foundation’s Lyme Disease Biobank to San Diego. “As a world-class hub for research and innovation, we can be part of the solution. This biobank is an important resource which will help researchers answer many current scientific questions about tick-borne diseases.”

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

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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.

Seven Herbal Medicines Are Capable of Killing Lyme Disease Bacteria, According to New Lab Study

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

Seven Herbal Medicines Are Capable of Killing Lyme Disease Bacteria, According to New Lab Study

Research Supported by Bay Area Lyme Foundation Evaluates Anti-microbial Effects of 14 Natural Products Compared to Antibiotics Used to Treat Lyme Disease

Marin, CA, February 21, 2020—Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the U.S., today announced the publication of new data finding that seven herbal medicines are highly active in test tubes against B. burgdorferi, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, compared to the control antibiotics, doxycycline and cefuroxime. Published in the journal Frontiers in Medicine, the laboratory study was funded by the Bay Area Lyme Foundation and supported in part by The Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation. The study was a collaboration between researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and colleagues at the California Center for Functional Medicine and FOCUS Health Group, Naturopathic.

“Since traditional antibiotic approaches fail to resolve symptoms in up to 25% of patients treated for Lyme disease and many suffer disabling effects of the disease, there is a need for novel treatment proven effective against B. burgdorferi,” said the paper’s co-author Sunjya K. Schweig, MD, CEO and co-director, California Center for Functional Medicine and Scientific Advisory Board Member, Bay Area Lyme Foundation. “Because patients are currently turning to herbal remedies to fill the treatment gaps left by antibiotics, this research is a critical step in helping clinicians, as well as patients, understand which ones may offer the most potential benefit.”

Bay Area Lyme Foundation Highlights 2019 Progress toward Diagnosing, Treating and Preventing Lyme Disease

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

Bay Area Lyme Foundation Highlights 2019 Progress toward Diagnosing, Treating and Preventing Lyme Disease

Bay Area Lyme Foundation has now funded more than 100 research projects at 38 institutions around the country since its inception in 2012

PORTOLA VALLEY, Calif., December 13, 2019—Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the U.S., today announced an exceptional year in research, including the first published studies using samples from the Lyme Disease Biobank and advances in research of disulfiram for treating individuals suffering from chronic Lyme disease and chronic babesiosis, an approach that Bay Area Lyme Foundation was the first to support.

“2019 was met with tremendous forward momentum for Lyme disease research as some of the early research we supported began to show significant clinical impact,” said Linda Giampa, executive director, Bay Area Lyme Foundation. “The Foundation continues to demonstrate progress against tick-borne diseases, one of the most important health crises of our time.”

Journal of Clinical Microbiology Publishes First Study Using Samples from the Lyme Disease Biobank

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

Journal of Clinical Microbiology Publishes First Study Using Samples from the Lyme Disease Biobank

More Than 40 Research Projects Have Now Used Samples from Bay Area Lyme Foundation’s Lyme Disease Biobank

PORTOLA VALLEY, Calif., Oct. 15, 2019 /PRNewswire/—Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the U.S., today announced that a study published in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology reports a potential new diagnostic, mChip-Ld, which can be performed in 15 minutes in a physician’s office, offers efficacy improvement over the current gold standard diagnostic, the two-tier test, and may be able to identify a patient’s Lyme disease stage. The research study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health, was made possible, in part, by blood samples provided by Bay Area Lyme Foundation’s Lyme Disease Biobank (LDB). LDB is a program of Bay Area Lyme Foundation (BAL), and is supported by donations from multiple sources including the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation.

“Our research toward developing rapid diagnostic assays for Lyme disease is impossible to carry out without having access to laboratory confirmed physician-characterized blood samples,” said study author Maria Gomes-Solecki, DVM, associate professor at The University of Tennessee Health Science Center. “In the past, a limited set of well-characterized Lyme disease samples could be obtained from the CDC. The BAL Lyme Disease Biobank provides another much-needed option in that regard.”

First West Coast CME Program on Tick-borne Disease Provides New Data, Insights from Researchers

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

 

First West Coast CME Program on Tick-borne Disease Provides New Data, Insights from Researchers

Stanford University School of Medicine and Massachusetts General Hospital host clinical and research forum funded by Bay Area Lyme Foundation

Silicon Valley, CA, September 3, 2019—Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the U.S., today highlights the first tick-borne disease CME program on the West Coast, Emerging Research, Diagnosis and Treatment of Lyme Disease and Tick-Borne Illness. The conference was hosted by two major academic institutions representing the East and West Coasts of the U.S., Stanford University School of Medicine and Massachusetts General Hospital, and included presentations related to the magnitude of tick-borne disease in California, emerging diagnostic technologies, potential future treatment options, and epidemiological statistics enabled by Lyme disease biobanks.

“There is a lack of understanding about the variety and severity of tick-borne illnesses such as Lyme disease on the west coast” said Charles Chiu, MD, PhD, professor of laboratory medicine and infectious diseases at UCSF, associate director of the UCSF Clinical Microbiology Laboratory, and Bay Area Lyme Foundation Scientific Advisory Board member. “This was a great opportunity to share the latest findings and ongoing research on the topic, so that physicians and other medical professionals can more quickly and accurately diagnose and treat their patients.”

In Search of a Cure for Lyme Disease: The Disulfiram Story

– Bonnie Crater, founder and vice-chair of the Board of Directors, Bay Area Lyme Foundation

What does an anti-alcoholism drug have to do with Lyme disease? Nothing—until a 2016 study funded by Bay Area Lyme Foundation found a link. From around 2014 through 2017, two labs on opposite coasts—one at Johns Hopkins University and one at Stanford—were testing thousands of FDA-approved drugs to identify an existing drug that worked against “persister” forms of Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb), the bacteria that causes Lyme disease(1,2,3,4). Why were they doing this?

Here’s a little background. Borrelia burgdorferi, a spirochete, when cultured in a lab has roughly 3 different forms: a) a culture with predominantly long or corkscrew forms, b) a culture with predominantly round forms and some microcolonies, and c) a culture with predominantly microcolonies (2). Most laboratory studies regarding the effectiveness of antibiotics are conducted in cultures on long forms. In this long form, the spirochete is motile and can divide (although very slowly) and consequently, some antibiotics work much better on the long form. However, after exposure to antibiotics such as doxycycline, the spirochete curls up into a round form and some clump together with other spirochetes to form a few microcolonies. These round-body and microcolony forms are understood to be a defensive posture for the bacteria.

Bay Area Lyme Foundation Tick Testing Program Adds Bartonella Pathogen Assay

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

Bay Area Lyme Foundation Tick Testing Program Adds Bartonella Pathogen Assay

Nationwide Free Tick Testing Initiative Will Inform Citizen-Science Studies to Better Understand the Spread of Ticks Carrying Diseases Throughout U.S.

Silicon Valley, CA, July 11, 2019 — Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the U.S., today announced the relaunch of its nationwide free tick testing program, which will include an assay for Bartonella, a disease-causing pathogen carried by ticks. Based on the success of the Free Tick Testing Citizen Science program, Bay Area Lyme Foundation has significantly increased funding for the 2019 nationwide collection effort, adding an automated submission process and increased research support. Researchers anticipate this citizen- science program will enable the organization to unearth further discoveries.

Results of the first citizen-scientist study were published in the peer-review journals PLOS ONE in 2018, and International Journal of Health Geographics in 2019. The study, which evaluated the prevalence of disease-carrying ticks throughout the United States, and included a massive sample of more than 16,000 ticks collected from 49 U.S. states and Puerto Rico, led to the discovery of ticks capable of carrying Lyme and other tick-borne diseases in 83 counties, in 24 states, where these ticks had not been previously recorded. The program received a six-fold increase in tick submissions over initial estimates, representing unprecedented national coordination of a ‘citizen science’ effort and diagnostic investigation.

One Success Hurts Thousands Who Are Suffering

Bay Area Lyme Foundation Responds to NY Times Story

We are thrilled for the Mandavilli family, who shared that their son responded well to treatment for Lyme disease in The New York Times story My Son Got Lyme Disease. He’s Totally Fine. This is not the case for everyone, and it is irresponsible, and scientifically inaccurate, to blanketly define Lyme, and other tick-borne diseases, as “easily treated”. This one patient’s experience can be countered by hundreds of other patients whose disease has brought their lives to a halt. It does a huge disservice to patients whose families read stories like this and question the patient’s symptoms, and whose community doctors see reports like this and refuse much-needed treatment. The joy of the Mandavilli family should be heralded as a success but not an example.

The CDC has reported deaths due to Lyme disease beginning as early as 2013, with most caused by Lyme carditis, a condition in which the bacteria invades the heart. And, the ability of this bacteria to invade other organs, including the brain, and cause paralysis is well-documented. Several celebrities including Alec Baldwin, Avril Lavigne, Yolanda Hadid and Kelly Osborne have by their own accounts believed that they were near death due to Lyme disease. Clearly, the singular experience of the Mandavilli family is not broadly representative of what every person with Lyme experiences.