– 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.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tara DiMilia, 908-947-0500, tara.dimilia@TMstrat.com
The Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation Grants $6.5 Million to
Bay Area Lyme Foundation
Gift is part of the largest private donation for Lyme disease research—100% of grant will go directly to Lyme disease research programs.
SILICON VALLEY, California, December 17, 2015 –The Bay Area Lyme Foundation today announced that it received a $6.5 million grant from the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation, the largest private donation ever given to Lyme disease research. The gift will support Bay Area Lyme’s mission of using new scientific research and innovations to make Lyme disease easy to diagnose and simple to cure.
“I was shocked to learn how many people suffer from Lyme disease in silence, and how much we still need to do to raise awareness and help find a cure,” said Alex Cohen, President of the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation. “This gift is incredibly personal to me as I have experienced, first-hand, the chronic and debilitating side effects of this relatively unknown disease. We share Bay Area Lyme Foundation’s desire to find a cure for Lyme disease and hope that this gift will help pave the way to that important work.”
By Allie Cashel
The following is a guest post by a young author and Lyme patient who has turned her experience into a catalyst to help others find their voice and break the silence around long-term struggles with Lyme disease and other chronic illnesses. You can read more about Allie in our Faces of Lyme section and on her own website, sufferingthesilence.com.
Allie has a new book due out in early September, Suffering the Silence: Chronic Lyme Disease in an Age of Denial. Bay Area Lyme Foundation will be co-hosting a reading and book signing at Books Inc. in Mountainview, CA on Tuesday, September 15th at 7:00pm. Come join us at the event and meet this engaging young speaker!
Everyone knew about Lyme disease in the town where I grew up. “Easy to diagnose and simple to treat,” people said. “As long as you get the medicine in you, you’ll be fine.” As a kid, I was always hearing stories about someone who had recently been diagnosed with Lyme – parents, cousins, siblings, pets – and in almost every case, the stories I heard were short.