– 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.
Seven Herbal Medicines Are Capable of Killing Lyme Disease Bacteria, According to New Lab Study
Research Supported by Bay Area Lyme Foundation Evaluates Anti-microbial Effects of 14 Natural Products Compared to Antibiotics Used to Treat Lyme Disease
Marin, CA, February 21, 2020—Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the U.S., today announced the publication of new data finding that seven herbal medicines are highly active in test tubes against B. burgdorferi, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, compared to the control antibiotics, doxycycline and cefuroxime. Published in the journal Frontiers in Medicine, the laboratory study was funded by the Bay Area Lyme Foundation and supported in part by The Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation. The study was a collaboration between researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and colleagues at the California Center for Functional Medicine and FOCUS Health Group, Naturopathic.
“Since traditional antibiotic approaches fail to resolve symptoms in up to 25% of patients treated for Lyme disease and many suffer disabling effects of the disease, there is a need for novel treatment proven effective against B. burgdorferi,” said the paper’s co-author Sunjya K. Schweig, MD, CEO and co-director, California Center for Functional Medicine and Scientific Advisory Board Member, Bay Area Lyme Foundation. “Because patients are currently turning to herbal remedies to fill the treatment gaps left by antibiotics, this research is a critical step in helping clinicians, as well as patients, understand which ones may offer the most potential benefit.”
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.”
Guest Post from
Michelle McKeon, MS
President, Lyme and Cancer Services
Bay Area Lyme is happy to share the editorial contributions of care providers, patients, caregivers, and others in the community who are eager to share their knowledge for the benefit of others suffering from Lyme and related tick-borne illnesses. There is still so much we don’t know and so much we are just learning. It is critical that we keep an active dialogue and share and collaborate to continue to move our understanding forward. What follows is an article written by a guest contributor and practicing care provider who shares that view and her personal and professional experience in hopes that it can help others with their healing journeys.
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.”
– 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.
If your trail is overgrown and thick with tall grasses (and most are thanks to a very wet Spring this year) … then you need to be aware of TICK HITCHHIKERS…
Unlike their highway counterpart these tick free riders don’t ask, they just grab on as you, your pet (or your horse) pass by. They perch quietly on the grasses and weeds that line your trail or backyard patiently waiting for their next unsuspecting host (and likely meal).
All too easily, you end up taking home a few uninvited guests and if not careful about checking and removing these pests when you return home, you could also end up inviting possible infection into your home.
Ticks carry Lyme disease and many other related infections that can cause debilitating and lasting symptoms. Tick incidence is on the rise almost everywhere, in part due to climate change and wetter, milder winters. If you enjoy the outdoors, you need to be aware of these itinerant nuisances and you need to take precautions to stay safe…
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.