Research Supported by Bay Area Lyme Foundation Shows Lower Immune Response Leads To Persistent Lyme Disease Symptoms

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

Research Supported by Bay Area Lyme Foundation Shows Lower Immune Response Leads To Persistent Lyme Disease Symptoms

Peer-reviewed Journal Frontiers in Immunology Publishes Important New Research From a Team Led by Bay Area Lyme Foundation’s First Emerging Leader Award Recipient

PORTOLA VALLEY, CA, August, 2018 — Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading nonprofit funder of innovative Lyme disease research in the US, today announced the publication of new data that offer valuable insights into the role of the immune system in fighting acute Lyme disease.

The data demonstrate a correlation between initial activation of specific components of the immune response, and a patient’s ability to recover following 21 days of doxycycline. Published in Frontiers in Immunology, the research, primarily funded by the Bay Area Lyme Foundation, was led by Lisa K. Blum, Ph.D., a former postdoctoral scholar at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Blum was one of the first recipients of the Bay Area Lyme Foundation Emerging Leader Award, a grant designed to support the research of promising scientists into Lyme disease and the bacteria that causes it, B. burgdorferi. 

“This research addresses one of the ongoing mysteries of Lyme disease, providing important evidence toward understanding why some people get better after a 21-day course of doxycycline, and some remain sick,” said Wendy Adams, research grant director, Bay Area Lyme Foundation. “The insights from this study not only show that both a competent immune response AND antibiotics are necessary to rid the infection, but also point us toward research avenues that could lead to new therapeutics.”

The data show that patients who did not demonstrate strong B-cell immune responses were more likely to experience post-treatment symptoms. Researchers found that the study participants who fully returned to health following 21 days of doxycycline treatment had significantly higher levels of a type of blood B cells, known as plasmablasts, prior to treatment than the patients who experienced persistent symptoms and met the criteria for diagnosis for post treatment Lyme disease syndrome (PTLDS) for at least 6 months following treatment. Importantly, the study also found that plasmablast levels may be useful in predicting which patients have a higher chance of treatment failure after a short course of antibiotics. These data confirm previous findings in some animal models showing demonstrable immune system suppression after infection and wide variability in the immune response among different animals after infection.

In addition to an association between plasmablasts and disease resolution, researchers also found that patients with persistent symptoms had a lower antibody response; more specifically, these patients exhibited reduced clonal expansion of B-cells.

Patients enrolled in the study consisted of 32 first-time Lyme patients exhibiting acute early-stage symptoms including a bull’s-eye-shaped rash, and 18 healthy participants who served as controls. Patients were treated with oral doxycycline treatment for 21 days, per Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) treatment guidelines. Blood tests, administered to Lyme disease patients at the pretreatment stage, 1-month post treatment, and 6-months post treatment, were analyzed using flow cytometry and antibody repertoire sequencing.  Samples from healthy controls were collected at an initial visit, 6 months, and 1 year. The definition of post treatment Lyme disease syndrome (PTLDS) for the purposes of the study are based on the IDSA’s proposed case definition.

Bay Area Lyme Foundation scientific advisory board members who contributed to the research included senior author William H. Robinson, M.D., Ph.D., Stanford University School of Medicine; Monica Embers, Ph.D., Tulane University; and John Aucott, M.D., Johns Hopkins University.

Lisa Blum, PhD, received the Bay Area Lyme Foundation Emerging Leader Award in 2014. Other Emerging Leader Award recipients have come from institutions including Brandeis University, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Louisiana State University, North Carolina State University and University of California, San Francisco. The most recent Emerging Leader Award winners were: George Church, Ph.D. and Ting Wu, Ph.D, who were each awarded a $250,000 grant to launch the Genomic Lyme Disease Research Initiative project at Harvard Medical School; and Michal Caspi Tal, Ph.D. and Steven E. Phillips, M.D. who each received $100,000 toward therapeutic research.

The Emerging Leader Awards from Bay Area Lyme Foundation were initiated based on a grant from the LaureL Foundation, and are currently made possible each year by a generous donation from the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation. This year, a supplemental donation by Emily and Malcolm Fairbairn enabled a fourth award, for a total of $700,000 in grants given. These awards are presented annually and are designed to be awarded to promising scientists who have identified a defined approach to improved diagnostics or therapeutics for Lyme disease. Researchers interested in applying for the 2019 Emerging Leader Award or learning about the other grants that Bay Area Lyme Foundation offers throughout the year should contact info@bayarealyme.org.

About Lyme disease

One of the fastest–growing infectious diseases 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. There are about 329,000 new cases of Lyme disease each year, according to statistics released in 2015 by the CDC. As a result of the difficulty in diagnosing and treating Lyme disease, as many as 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 the leading public foundation sponsor of innovative Lyme disease research in the US.  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 all 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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Bay Area Lyme Foundation’s LymeAid 2018 Raises $1.1 Million for Lyme Disease Research

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

Bay Area Lyme Foundation’s LymeAid 2018 Raises $1.1 Million for Lyme Disease Research

Jay Leno and Chris Isaak, as well as patients, philanthropists, leading national Lyme disease researchers and clinicians, observe a moment of silence for those who have died from the disease, including four women from the San Francisco Bay Area

PORTOLA VALLEY, Calif., May 16, 2018—Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the United States,  brought together scientists, philanthropists, celebrities and patients for the sixth annual LymeAid, an event aimed at raising funds to make Lyme disease easy to diagnose and simple to cure.  This year’s benefit dinner and concert raised more than $1 million, of which 100 percent will go directly to fund research and education projects for Lyme disease.

“Support for Lyme disease research continues to grow, perhaps because of the increasing numbers of people who are severely impacted,” remarked Linda Giampa, executive director, Bay Area Lyme Foundation. “We are honored to have renowned scientists and up-and-coming researchers lending their expertise to our efforts, and taking the time to educate and engage philanthropists and high-profile personalities through our annual LymeAid event.”

George Church, Ph.D., Ting Wu, Ph.D., Steven E. Phillips, M.D. and Michal Caspi Tal, Ph.D., Named Recipients of Bay Area Lyme Foundation’s 2018 Emerging Leader Award

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

George Church, Ph.D., Ting Wu, Ph.D., Steven E. Phillips, M.D. and Michal Caspi Tal, Ph.D., Named Recipients of Bay Area Lyme Foundation’s 2018 Emerging Leader Award

– Genomics, immunotherapy and unraveling the stealth attributes of Lyme disease are the focus of the 2018 Emerging Leader Award projects, designed to inspire new Lyme disease research –

PORTOLA VALLEY, Calif., May 14, 2018—Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the U.S., announces the recipients of the 2018 Emerging Leader Awards, which are designed to encourage promising scientists who embody the future of Lyme disease-research leadership. George Church, Ph.D. and Ting Wu, Ph.D. will each be awarded a $250,000 grant to launch the Genomic Lyme Disease Research Initiative project at Harvard Medical School, and Michal Caspi Tal, Ph.D. and Steven E. Phillips, M.D. will each receive $100,000 toward therapeutic research related to immunotherapy and an innovative new drug aimed at eliminating chronic tick-borne infections, respectively. Lyme disease is a potentially devastating infection impacting more than 300,000 Americans each year.

Bay Area Lyme Foundation Awards Grants to Researchers Exploring Novel Ways to Detect, Treat Lyme Disease

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

Bay Area Lyme Foundation Awards Grants to Researchers Exploring Novel Ways to Detect, Treat Lyme Disease

Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Brandeis University Researchers are the Awardees of the 2017 Emerging Leader Awards

Portola Valley, Calif., July 11, 2017 – Bay Area Lyme Foundation, the leading national nonprofit funder of innovative Lyme disease research, today announced that the winners of its 2017 Emerging Leader Award, are James J. Collins, PhD, Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Yuko Nakajima, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, Brandeis University. Dr. Collins was awarded a $250,000 grant to research an RNA direct detection diagnostic for early Lyme disease, while Dr. Nakajima received a $100,000 grant to investigate potential treatments to block immune evasion by the bacteria causing Lyme disease.

New National Lyme Disease Biobank Aims to Accelerate Lyme Disease Research by Making Lyme Patient Samples From the East Coast, West Coast and Midwest Available to Researchers

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

New National Lyme Disease Biobank Aims to Accelerate Lyme Disease Research by Making Lyme Patient Samples From the East Coast, West Coast, and Midwest Available to Researchers 

Qualified researchers now have one-stop access to patient samples from Long Island, San Francisco Bay Area, Martha’s Vineyard, and Marshfield, Wisc.

Portola Valley, Calif., January 24, 2017 – Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a national organization funding research to make Lyme disease easy to diagnose and simple to cure, announces the launch of the Lyme Disease Biobank, which is the first program to provide researchers with blood and urine samples from people with acute Lyme disease from multiple regions across the country, including the East Coast, West Coast and Upper Midwest.

Bay Area Lyme Foundation Highlights Growth of Scientific Lyme Community in 2016

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

Bay Area Lyme Foundation Highlights Growth of Scientific Lyme Community in 2016

Foundation demonstrates recruitment of new scientific talent through innovative programs

SILICON VALLEY, Calif., November 28, 2016—Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading public nonprofit funder of Lyme disease research in the US, today announced that the organization granted $1.75 million in 2016 for Lyme research and education. Over the year, the Foundation continued to demonstrate success in bringing new scientific talent to the fight against tick-borne diseases. The organization highlights the recipients of the 2016 grant cycle, outlines the benefits of the Foundation’s contributions to Lyme Innovation, and announces their national Lyme Disease Biobank.

Tick Saliva and Borrelia Spirochetes: A Novel Approach to Lyme Diagnostics

grasperge_rev_lores-250-x-250Bay Area Lyme recognizes some of the most promising research projects and scientists in the field of Lyme Disease for its annual Emerging Leader Award. These scientists and project teams come from leading research institutions all over the country and are focused on some of the more innovative approaches to developing new diagnostics and treatments for this insidious disease. The award comes with $100,000 of project funding to help bring their research to the next stage of completion or proof-of-concept.

Here, we talked with one of this year’s winners, Britton Grasperge, DVM, PhD, DACVP, Assistant Professor at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, LA, as he discusses his novel approach to Lyme diagnostics and also what it’s like to connect the work that’s done in the lab to the very real stories of the human patients suffering through the disease. He was the recipient of the Alexandra Cohen Emerging Leader Award. Dr. Grasperge’s project is entitled “Identification of Tick Chemoattractant(s) for Borrelia burgdorferi.” The goal, he explains, is to design better diagnostics and to improve therapeutics for post-treatment Lyme disease patients who continue to have lingering symptoms even after having been treated. 

New Pathogen Discovered By Researchers Who Discovered Lyme – But Was Not Reported

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

New Pathogen Discovered By Researchers Who Discovered Lyme – But Was Not Reported

Bay Area Lyme Foundation Responds to News Related to Initial Studies of Lyme Disease

Portola Valley, CA, October 12, 2016 – Bay Area Lyme Foundation, an organization dedicated to making Lyme disease easy to diagnose and simple to cure, is deeply disturbed by the news that researchers involved in the initial discoveries of Lyme disease omitted critical information related to additional bacteria that may have contributed to illness in early cases. This information was revealed in a story today in STAT News titled “The ‘Swiss Agent’: Long forgotten research unearths new mystery about Lyme disease.”

This new development clearly points to a critical need to reexamine much of the current orthodoxy in Lyme disease.

Bay Area Lyme Foundation Announces Winners of “Lyme Innovation” Hackathon at White House Event

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

Bay Area Lyme Foundation Announces Winners of “Lyme Innovation” Hackathon at White House Event

White House Acknowledges Contributions of Program Organizers
Toward Solving Challenges of Lyme Disease

(Cambridge, MA,) October 5, 2016 — As part of the White House Open Data Innovation Summit, Bay Area Lyme Foundation, collaborating with the Spaulding Rehabilitation Network’s Dean Center for Tick Borne Illness, Harvard Medical School Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, MIT Hacking Medicine, University of California, Berkeley, and the Veterans Affairs Center for Innovation, announces the winning teams of Lyme Innovation.  Lyme Innovation is the first ever Hackathon for Lyme disease, which provided a forum for more than 100 scientists, clinicians, researchers, entrepreneurs, and investors from a variety of disciplines to brainstorm solutions for this potentially devastating disease.

Bay Area Lyme Foundation Increases Annual ‘Emerging Leader Award’ Grants to $350,000 for Lyme Disease Research

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

Bay Area Lyme Foundation Increases Annual ‘Emerging Leader Award’ Grants to $350,000 for Lyme Disease Research

2017 additional award invites applications from Associate Professors through Full Professors

Silicon Valley, California, October 3, 2016 – Bay Area Lyme Foundation, supporter of research aimed at making Lyme disease easy to diagnose and simple to cure, announced today that it is beginning to accept applications for a new $250,000 grant award that has been added to its existing “Emerging Leader Award” portfolio of yearly funding.  Made available to researchers through the generosity of the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Foundation and the Laurel Foundation, the portfolio also includes the $100,000 “Emerging Leader Award” which has previously been granted to researchers from Harvard, Stanford, UCSF, NC State and Louisiana State University.

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