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.”

Much research into tick-borne infections is needed, as current diagnostics are inaccurate for more than half of early stage Lyme disease cases, treatments do not work for everyone and late stage Lyme disease can become nearly impossible to cure. In fact, a recent study based on the samples collected by the Lyme Disease Biobank and published in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology, found that the Centers for Disease Control’s standard two-tier testing algorithm for Lyme disease failed to accurately diagnose 71% of blood samples from individuals in endemic areas presenting with a Lyme rash, also known as an erythema migrans, greater than 5 cm. In striving to investigate better diagnostics and treatments for tick-borne diseases, researchers require verified blood, urine and tissue samples to use in their studies.

Currently, there are 50 research projects that rely on Lyme Disease Biobank samples. The San Diego collection center will be in partnership with Osteopathic Medical Associates of San Diego (OMASD).

“As Lyme disease grows in prevalence, we are seeing more people looking to make a difference for current and future patients, and our biobank offers a valuable way for the public to support researchers who are working to find solutions,” said Liz Horn, PhD, principal investigator, Lyme Disease Biobank. “We are honored to be able to give people from San Diego the opportunity to contribute to this important initiative.”

The Lyme Disease Biobank in San Diego will collect from people who have ongoing symptoms of Lyme disease. Importantly, because bacterial strains of tick-borne diseases have been shown to vary from region to region, a biobank in San Diego will allow researchers to explore potential new diagnostics against the range of bacterial strains prevalent in people with Lyme disease in San Diego, along with those from other parts of the country.

San Diego residents are also invited to register for the Biobank’s tissue collection program. This program allows for a greater understanding of the ability of Lyme bacteria to invade tissues and organs. The Lyme Disease Biobank is the only national entity working to accelerate research by collecting surgical and post-mortem tissue samples from individuals with persistent Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections.

Also in support of Lyme disease research such as this, community members will come together tonight, Friday, March 6th for Ride Out Lyme California at SoulCycle in La Jolla.

About Lyme Disease Biobank
The Lyme Disease Biobank (LDB), a program of the Bay Area Lyme Foundation, is a non-profit organization working to accelerate research of Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections. With a collection of biological samples from more than 900 participants, including serum, blood, urine and tissue, LDB provides much-needed samples to researchers working to better understand tick-borne diseases and develop improved tests and therapeutics. Blood and urine samples are collected from the Northeast, Upper Midwest and West Coast areas of the U.S., and tissue samples are collected throughout the country.

Healthcare providers looking to get involved, and patients interested in donating blood, urine or tissue samples can learn more here.

Researchers interested in obtaining samples should visit www.lymebiobank.org or contact info@lymebiobank.org.

About Lyme Disease
The most common vector-borne infectious disease 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. If caught early, most cases of Lyme disease can be effectively treated, but it is commonly misdiagnosed due to lack of awareness and unreliable diagnostic tests. There are more than 400,000 new cases of Lyme disease each year, according to statistics released in 2018 by the CDC. As a result of the difficulty in diagnosing and treating Lyme disease, more than 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 a leading public not-for-profit sponsor of innovative Lyme disease research in the U.S. 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 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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Contact:
Tara DiMilia
Phone: 908-884-7024
Tara.DiMilia@tmstrat.com

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

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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.

“For an epidemic like Lyme disease that is growing at such an alarming rate, there needs to be more research, greater understanding, better diagnostics, and improved treatments,” said Charles Chiu, MD, PhD, Professor of Laboratory Medicine and Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, University of California, San Francisco, and Bay Area Lyme Foundation scientific advisory board member, who is currently using samples from the Lyme Disease Biobank for his research. “This study draws attention to the fact that we simply don’t have an accurate test for Lyme disease at present, and this is exactly why clinicians still need to rely on their knowledge of the signs and symptoms of early Lyme disease to diagnose patients and provide prompt treatment.”

These findings also reinforce that Lyme disease does occur in individuals who do not have a erythema migrans, and those with rashes smaller than 5 cm. Samples that were laboratory confirmed for Lyme disease (N=82) were more likely to be enrolled with a Lyme rash (83%) and more likely to present with a Lyme rash greater than 5 cm (74%). However, 26% of laboratory confirmed Lyme disease did not present with a Lyme rash greater than 5 cm, including 9% enrolled as having a Lyme rash smaller than 5 cm and 17% enrolled without any skin manifestations.

“Patients who do not exhibit a rash likely face the greatest challenges in being diagnosed—not only because many healthcare providers specifically look for this sign to diagnose patients, but because the lack of a rash correlated to less likelihood of an accurate serology test, according to this study,” added Dr. Chiu.

Currently comprised of samples from more than 800 participants, the Lyme Disease Biobank utilized 550 patient and control samples (298 cases and 252 controls) collected from 2014 through 2018 for this study. Each sample was tested using both a first tier ELISA and second tier immunoblot (i.e., western blot), and the STTTA was applied. Assays were also performed to detect the presence of tick-borne pathogens (polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and a subset of samples was evaluated by culture. Of the 298 cases enrolled with signs and symptoms of Lyme disease, only 28% were identified as positive for Lyme disease through these methods, or a modified two-tier testing algorithm, consisting of two positive ELISAs in patients with Lyme rash (erythema migrans) greater than 5 cm. This collection highlights and reinforces the known limitations of STTTA testing in early Lyme disease.

“This study highlights the limitations of available tools for all healthcare providers whose patients may be infected with Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. Our hope is that healthcare providers will consider these findings when evaluating patients with signs and symptoms of early Lyme disease,” said Liz Horn, PhD MBI, the study’s lead author and principal investigator for Lyme Disease Biobank. “Our original goal was to characterize the samples we were making available to investigators working on new diagnostics for Lyme disease. We didn’t expect to find such large inaccuracies in current laboratory tests that support clinical decision-making.”

According to findings, participants presenting with a Lyme rash greater than 5 cm were more likely to be positive by any serologic test. For samples taken while patients were experiencing signs and symptoms of early Lyme disease, a positive ELISA was found in 38-43% of patients with Lyme rashes larger than 5 cm, 17-35% of patients with rashes smaller than 5 cm, and 15-27% of patients without a rash, while 5-11% of controls also received a positive ELISA (ranges represent percent positive using different first-tier tests). For the second tier immunoblots, more cases were positive for IgM than IgG (as would be expected for early Lyme disease).

“We are thrilled to see the Lyme Disease Biobank helping to uncover the critical challenges facing patients and physicians as well as the urgent need for more accurate Lyme disease diagnostics,” said Alex Cohen, President and Co-founder of the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation, whose funding has been instrumental in the rapid expansion of the Lyme Disease Biobank over the past four years.

Currently, there are 50 research projects in the U.S. that rely on Lyme Disease Biobank samples.

About Lyme Disease Biobank
The Lyme Disease Biobank (LDB), a program of the Bay Area Lyme Foundation, is a non-profit organization working to accelerate research of Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections. With a collection of biological samples from more than 800 participants, including serum, blood, urine and tissue, LDB provides much-needed samples to researchers working to better understand tick-borne diseases and develop improved tests and therapeutics. Blood and urine samples are collected from the Northeast and Upper Midwest areas of the U.S., as well as the San Francisco area and, now, San Diego, and tissue samples are collected throughout the U.S.

Healthcare providers, and patients interested in donating blood, urine or tissue samples can learn more here.

Researchers interested in obtaining samples should visit www.lymebiobank.org or contact info@lymebiobank.org.

About Lyme Disease
The most common vector-borne infectious disease 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. If caught early, most cases of Lyme disease can be effectively treated, but it is commonly misdiagnosed due to lack of awareness and unreliable diagnostic tests. There are more than 400,000 new cases of Lyme disease each year, according to statistics released in 2018 by the CDC. As a result of the difficulty in diagnosing and treating Lyme disease, more than 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 the Cohen Lyme & Tickborne Disease Initiative
The non-profit organization, the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation, is leading the fight against Lyme and tickborne diseases by educating health professionals, sharing new knowledge, advancing research, accelerating market solutions, and advocating the highest quality care for patients. It advances academic science, creates educational tools and platforms, communicates the latest information and study findings, supports policies that promote the highest quality patient care, strengthens the pipeline of tickborne disease specialists and other health professionals, and focuses on addressing health disparities. The Foundation also collaborates with the U.S. government as well as patient, health, and science professionals and other organizations to further mutually shared goals, including greater awareness of Lyme and tickborne diseases. To learn more, please visit steveandalex.org.

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 a leading public not-for-profit sponsor of innovative Lyme disease research in the U.S. 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 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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Contact:
Tara DiMilia
908-369-7168
Tara.dimilia@tmstrat.com

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

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Media Contact:
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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Media Contact:
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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Media Contact:
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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Media Contact:
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.

Bay Area Lyme Foundation’s LymeAid, Led by Jeff Bridges, Celebrates Progress, Awards New Grants

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

Bay Area Lyme Foundation’s LymeAid, Led by Jeff Bridges, Celebrates Progress, Awards New Grants

Research update and promising grant recipients energized the jubilant crowd

PORTOLA VALLEY, Calif., May 14, 2019—Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the United States, brought together scientists, philanthropists, celebrities and patients at the top of the Salesforce Tower in San Francisco for the seventh annual LymeAid, an event aimed at raising funds to make Lyme disease easy to diagnose and simple to cure. The event was the largest non-profit fundraising event held on the 61st floor of the Tower, and $1M was raised, of which 100 percent will go directly to fund scientific research, education and prevention programs for Lyme disease.

“It takes a community to solve a problem as big as Lyme, and it is wonderful to see such a powerful community here tonight to support Lyme research and the work of Bay Area Lyme Foundation,” said Jeff Bridges, actor, singer, producer and composer. Bridges entertained at LymeAid, and paid tribute to his friend Kris Kristofferson who was misdiagnosed several times before receiving an accurate diagnosis of Lyme disease, and is now on the road to recovery.

New Study Provides Insight Related to Lyme Brain Fog

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

“I was driving down a road that I’ve driven 1,000 times and suddenly I had no idea where I was or where I was going. So, I pull over to the side of the road to get myself oriented, and then 5-10 minutes later, I remembered and drove to my destination.”

Several friends affected by Lyme have told me of this same experience. It’s caused by the brain fog symptom of Lyme disease, which is often called “mild cognitive impairment” by physicians. I first learned about brain fog when my friend Laure and I founded the Bay Area Lyme Foundation. She explains it like this:

“My nature is to be prompt, attentive and on top of things. It’s important to me to remember people and conversations, and follow up later. Brain fog makes me feel like my brain is muffled with cotton, and it turns me into a “flake” which is very frustrating and hard for me to accept. There are times my brain has been so confused and my spatial awareness is so poor that I’ve actually walked right into a wall. Often, when I am experiencing brain fog, I have to read paragraphs numerous times, and can’t comprehend the content or remember the beginning of the paragraph by the time I’ve gotten to the end.”

As you can imagine, experiencing brain fog—and the cognitive dysfunction involving memory problems, lack of mental clarity, and poor concentration that comes along with it—is very scary for Lyme patients.