Bay Area Lyme Foundation Now Accepting Applications for $450,000 in Emerging Leader Award Research Grants

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

Bay Area Lyme Foundation Now Accepting Applications for $450,000 in Emerging Leader Award Research Grants

‘Emerging Leader Award’ aims to attract new scientific talent to address challenges of Lyme disease

Portola Valley, California, December 5, 2017—Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the US, today announced a call for applications for three Bay Area Lyme Foundation ‘Emerging Leader Award’ grants, one for $250,000 and the other two for $100,000. These awards will be given to promising scientists who embody the future of leadership in Lyme disease research in the US. The award recipients will be researchers in academia or the private sector who have demonstrated professional and scientific leadership in the biomedical sciences and who can offer scientific rationale for a research project that can advance diagnostics or treatments for Lyme disease.

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

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Media Contact:
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.

Participating in Clinical Research: Another Treatment Alternative?

Lyme disease, particularly with chronic or late-stage symptoms, can be a horribly frustrating and debilitating illness. Symptoms can persist despite complicated treatment regimens; therapies that seem successful at first may become less effective over time; and medications that work for some appear to have no effect for others. Add to that the high cost of treatment, the complicating challenges of co-infections, and insufficient insurance coverage for both traditional and alternative treatment, and it quickly becomes apparent why clinical studies offer potential for patients who are still suffering.

For many patients, the promise of participating in a clinical trial is not just the hope for new discoveries but a more immediate opportunity to access treatment options they may not otherwise be able to secure or afford. But is clinical research the “holy grail” for these patients who are seeking another option? What are the pros and cons of clinical research? What do you need to know?

The Challenges of Lyme Disease Reporting: Critical Consequences for California

Wendy AdamsLyme disease is a nationally notifiable disease, recognized and tracked by the federal government Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for surveillance purposes. Surveillance data provides important information for assessing public health risks and allocating research dollars. Per the CDC, “The goal of Lyme disease surveillance is not to capture every case, but to systematically gather and analyze public health data in a way that enables public health officials to look for trends and take actions to reduce disease and improve public health.” However, these statistics have important implications for individual patients as well.

In this post, Bay Area Lyme Research Grant Director and Advisory Board Member Wendy Adams discusses some important changes to the CDC definitions of Lyme disease and some concerning implications for patients in the state of California.

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In January, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta published an updated Lyme Disease (Borrelia burgdorferi) 2017 Case Definition. Lyme disease case definitions have been published since 1995, and the previous definition was published in 2011. The CDC actually is not responsible for this definition; instead it is the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) that is responsible for Lyme disease surveillance.  Each state has its own State Epidemiologist (see info about CA here). Despite being a federal agency, the CDC can offer input on these definitions but the CSTE is not obligated to accept those suggestions.

The case definition for Lyme disease is only intended to be used to determine cases for surveillance purposes and not to represent the full incidence of Lyme in a given area.  However, this subtlety is often confusing for doctors who see these low case numbers as proof that they do not need to consider a Lyme diagnosis in CA.  The low numbers also are convenient for insurance companies who inappropriately use this narrow definition as diagnostic criteria to deny coverage for patients whose cases don’t meet the definition.

Going Outside to Play with Abandon…

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetSharane Dorrah is on a mission …  A passionate hiker, mountain biker, skier, and general outdoors enthusiast who suffered years of debilitating illness due to the unfortunate bite of a Lyme-infected tick, Sharane is determined to ensure that the rest of the world avoid her nightmare through greater awareness and protection.

The company she launched this past year, Peskys, offers fashionable performance activewear instilled with an EPA-approved insect repellent to ward off a wide range of “pesky” bugs that can carry serious diseases.  Sharane explains, “Sounds dramatic, I know… [but] I’m on a mission to save lives by giving a fashionable option for protection against bites from those pesky bugs that can carry not only Lyme, but also Zika, West Nile, and all those other ‘bug diseases.’ I’m opening my big mouth and creating awareness. And I’m donating protective clothing and other items to children because they are the most at risk for some of these diseases.”

Sharane’s tactics are intriguing. Certainly the spread and the number of serious diseases like Lyme, Zika, and West Nile have forced the issue into the minds of more people; and yet, apprehension or lack of enthusiasm about the preventive tools available — such as chemical sprays, seemingly excessive coverup or avoidance tactics, etc. — mean that far too many of us who love the outdoors remain at risk. Enter this new concept: “performance apparel reinvented into sophisticated style options that meet the demands of day-to-day urban and outdoor active living. Pesky’s insect repellent apparel options perform equally well on the hiking trail as they do pool-side, at the farmer’s market, or in the backyard. They’ll ward off the worst of the season’s mosquitoes and ticks, but they do it without sacrificing style.”

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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Media Contact:
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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Media Contact:
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. 

CRISPR Technology: A New Approach to Eradicating Borrelia

courtesy Beisel Lab, NCSUDr. Chase Beisel is an Assistant Professor at North Carolina State University who was recognized earlier this year with one of Bay Area Lyme Foundation’s prestigious Emerging Leader Awards. This honor is in recognition of and support for his lab‘s novel work exploring CRISPR technology as a potential treatment for Lyme infections.

Dr. Beisel’s work integrates molecular biology, chemical engineering, and mathematical modeling and has been acknowledged with several National Science Foundation (NSF),  National Institute for Health (NIH) and other important awards. His foray into the field of Lyme is a new direction for his lab and ties directly to the Foundation’s aim of attracting some of the brightest and best minds in the country to apply innovative new approaches and methodology to accelerate the development of new diagnostics and treatments for Lyme disease. We are excited about his work and asked him to elaborate further in this recent conversation.

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

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Media Contact:
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.

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