After obtaining a B.S. in Animal Science from UC Davis, Laure Woods ’80 went on to a career in clinical research, working with pharmaceutical companies such as Matrix Pharmaceutical and Genelabs Technologies. She also founded her own consulting business to advise companies that test the safety and efficacy of medications, devices, diagnostic products, and treatment regimens intended for human use. Laure also formed a private foundation focused on the education, health, and welfare of children, and founded the LaureL STEM Fund, which led to her work with Santa Catalina’s robotics team.
HOW DID YOU HELP START THE PROJECT AT SANTA CATALINA?In 2017, I contacted the school with my desire to help fund an all-girls robotics team. This decision was driven by my experience at the FIRST Robotics competitions I attended with my daughter’s team. There were more boys than girls and one or no all-girls teams at the competitions. So of course I contacted my alma mater! I was so excited to learn that a group of students, led by Madison Gong ’18, had already formed a team and were using a room for their robotics lab in the Sister Claire and Sister Christine Mathematics and Science Center. I had recently started the LaureL STEM Fund as part of my family foundation, and one of our goals is to create more opportunities for young women in STEM. We were excited to partner with the Catalina robotics team—entirely driven by students.
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.
– Wendy Adams, Research Grant Director, Bay Area Lyme Foundation
Erythema migrans (EM) is the hallmark sign of infection with B. burgdorferi. An EM is defined as an expanding annular (round) lesion or rash of at least 10cm (2.5in). Most rashes occur 3–30 days after infection, however there are case reports that show EMs can appear sooner than three days post infection.
The term “Bulls-eye” rash is often used synonymously with EM. But an EM is not required to have central clearing or a target appearance. The rash can take many forms, and may have a raised bump in the middle, can be itchy or warm, and can have a bluish cast like a bruise. It can be round or even oval. Only 20% of Lyme disease with an EM have the bulls-eye presentation. That means that only 1 in 6 total Lyme cases will have a rash with a target appearance.
The rash also may not be present at all. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that 70-80% of patients may exhibit the erythema migrans, this number can vary by study. For example, a 2010 study showed that in the state of Maine only 43% of Lyme patients exhibited this rash when infected with Lyme.
Jacob Lemieux, MD, PhD (Harvard/MIT Broad Institute)
Bay Area Lyme’s 2020 Emerging Leader Award Winner, Jacob Lemieux, MD, PhD, of the Harvard/MIT Broad Institute, discusses Borrelia and malaria, next-generation sequencing, COVID-19, and Lyme diagnostic challenges.
Bay Area Lyme’s 2020 Emerging Leader Award Winner, Artem Rogovsky, DVM, PhD, of the Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University, discusses radioactive ticks, Lyme diagnostics, and how a kid’s birthday party can lead to novel research.
Principal Investigator for the Bay Area Lyme Disease Biobank, Liz Horn, PhD, MBI, discusses the Biobank which has enrolled over 900 participants, supporting over 50 research projects so far. They support research projects across the nation by providing precious serum, whole blood, urine and tissue samples to researchers.
– 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.
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
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.
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.”