How Do You Build a Biobank to Solve the Problem of Lyme Disease? Literally – One Tick Bite at a Time

Lyme Disease Biobank

Written by: Jo Ellis, Bay Area Lyme Volunteer and Supporter

Science is all about asking questions and finding answers. It attracts the curious, the driven, the questioners and fact seekers—the people who won’t accept the status quo and who are always pushing to learn more. If we keep asking science the right questions, we’re bound to get to the right answers eventually. It’s simple, right?

Unfortunately, not. As with everything about Lyme disease the answers to the questions are not so simple. Lyme is a complicated, nuanced disease with many challenging attributes, so much so that even the most experienced clinicians and medical researchers struggle to understand the many ways the infection impacts the human body. So, if you’re going to try and solve the puzzle of Lyme disease, where is the best place to start? How do you get all the pieces in place to move the needle to solve the complexity of this disease?

Enter Bay Area Lyme Foundation and Principal Investigator, Liz Horn PhD, MBI. When they were planning this project, they asked research scientists in the field of Lyme disease what were their big obstacles to finding out more about Lyme? What did scientists need so that they could start chipping away at the conundrum of this horrible disease?

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.

Nanotrap® Urine Test for Lyme Borreliosis

– Wendy Adams, Research Grant Director, Bay Area Lyme Foundation

 

Bay Area Lyme has a goal to leverage the entrepreneurial spirit and innovation of Silicon Valley in order to catalyze novel projects around the country. Our belief is that the application of cutting-edge technologies will have a dramatic impact on making Lyme disease easy to diagnose and simple to cure. We collaborate with world-class scientists focused on Lyme projects which leverage knowledge from other fields of medicine and research. We also prioritize engagement with the investment and biotech communities so that breakthroughs in the laboratory can be translated more quickly to patients. Since our inception, our scientific research funding priorities have been focused on supporting diagnostic and therapeutic projects.

It is impossible to cure Lyme disease in every case without understanding how to diagnose it accurately. There are many reasons for this disease being difficult to identify—ticks are tiny, the EM skin rash is often misdiagnosed and symptoms overlap with other acute diseases like influenza. Most importantly, the widely used two tier diagnostic testing required for Lyme disease is currently the ELISA and Western Blot, which only detects the immune response (indirect detection) and not the pathogen itself. Because it can take at least 2-4 weeks for the body to generate antibodies, these tests have been shown to miss up to 70% of acute Lyme cases. These tests also do not detect other related Borrelia species, such as Borrelia miyamotoi), and cannot determine when the infection is eradicated.

Bay Area Lyme Foundation Announces Call for Entries for the 2021 Emerging Leader Awards

2021 Emerging Leader Awards

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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

Bay Area Lyme Foundation Announces Call for Entries for the 2021 Emerging Leader Awards

Grant aims to inspire new research toward overcoming the challenges of Lyme disease

PORTOLA VALLEY, Calif., November 17, 2020—Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the US, is announcing a call for entries for their 2021 Emerging Leader Awards (ELA), which are designed to encourage scientists who embody the future of Lyme disease research leadership in the US. This year, two grants, $250,000, and $100,000 will be awarded. Recipients will be researchers from academia or the private sector in the US. who have not necessarily conducted previous research in tick-borne diseases. All applicants are encouraged to bring learnings from other therapeutic areas to their research projects. Their proposal must have a defined scientific approach and rationale that can advance diagnostics or treatments for Lyme disease. Applications will be accepted through February 15, 2021, at midnight pacific. The full criteria and application for this award can be found here.

“This year has given us all the opportunity to consider the great importance of medical research and the devastation that can arise when a pathogen is not well-understood by the medical and scientific community,” said Wendy Adams, research grant director, Bay Area Lyme Foundation. “We clearly need novel approaches to make Lyme disease easy to diagnose and simple to cure, and we hope these awards offer the support that innovative researchers require.”

Bay Area Lyme Foundation Launches Ticktective™ Podcast

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

Bay Area Lyme Foundation Launches Ticktective™ Podcast

PORTOLA VALLEY, Calif., September 30, 2020 — Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the US, announces the launch of the Ticktective podcast and video series.  Ticktective is a Bay Area Lyme Foundation program designed to investigate the latest scientific knowledge and advances in Lyme and tick-borne diseases. The podcast offers insightful discussion with researchers, physicians, patients, and thought leaders in the field.

“Because the science surrounding tick-borne disease is so complex and there are so many unanswered questions, Ticktective aims to share firsthand perspectives about the challenges of Lyme in ways that will intrigue more scientists, physicians and patients to join our battle towards making Lyme disease easy to diagnose and simple to cure,” said Linda Giampa, executive director, Bay Area Lyme Foundation.

There are more than 400,000 people diagnosed with Lyme disease each year in the US, and millions of Americans live with persistent Lyme disease (PLD) caused by an ongoing bacterial infection. The current “gold standard” diagnostic for Lyme disease misses up to 60% of cases of early stage Lyme disease, and if not treated promptly, Lyme may progress to a debilitating stage, becoming difficult, or impossible, to cure. Bay Area Lyme Foundation has funded over 100 research projects at 37 institutions across the US in a mission to find solutions for these patients.

Lyme Persistence and COVID “Long-Haulers”

Dana Parish, Bay Area Lyme Advisory Board Member (Co-author of "Chronic" and SonyATV singer/ songwriter)

Bay Area Lyme Foundation Advisory Board Member, “Chronic” co-author and SonyATV singer/songwriter, Dana Parish, shares her perspective on chronic diseases, autoimmunity, COVID-19, and speaking out in the face of adversity. “Chronic: The Hidden Cause of the Autoimmune Pandemic and How to Get Healthy Again” is available for purchase on Amazon here.

Inadequacy in the medical field to accurately diagnose a Lyme rash

– 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, DPhil and Artem Rogovskyy, DVM, PhD Named Recipients of Bay Area Lyme Foundation’s 2020 Emerging Leader Award

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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

Jacob Lemieux, MD, DPhil and Artem Rogovskyy, DVM, PhD Named Recipients of Bay Area Lyme Foundation’s 2020 Emerging Leader Award

Biobank Samples to Aid 2020 Emerging Leader Award Winners in Discovery of New Rapid and Sensitive Diagnostics for Lyme Disease Testing

PORTOLA VALLEY, Calif., August 11, 2020 — Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the U.S., announces the recipients of the 2020 Emerging Leader Awards, which are designed to support promising scientists who represent the future of Lyme disease-research leadership. Jacob Lemieux, MD, DPhil of Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital, and Artem Rogovskyy, DVM, PhD of Texas A&M University will each receive $100,000 toward the development of novel direct-detection diagnostic approaches for Lyme disease. Both researchers will utilize biological samples from the Lyme Disease Biobank, a program of the Bay Area Lyme Foundation, working to accelerate research of Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections. Lyme disease is a potentially disabling infection impacting more than 400,000 Americans each year.

“The value of research proposed by our grant recipients is vital to our mission of making Lyme disease easy to diagnose and simple to cure.  In this year of COVID-19, we are pleased to have the opportunity to continue our grant program to fund the important work of these scientists addressing the most crucial requirement for Lyme disease – an accurate diagnostic test,” said Linda Giampa, executive director, Bay Area Lyme Foundation.