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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Citizen-Scientist Study is First to Find Ticks Capable of Carrying Lyme Disease in 83 U.S. Counties Where Previously Undetected

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

Citizen-Scientist Study is First to Find Ticks Capable of Carrying Lyme Disease in 83 U.S. Counties Where Previously Undetected

Study Validates Citizen Participation as Viable Method for Health Agencies to Evaluate Tick-borne Disease Risk

PORTOLA VALLEY, CA, July 12, 2018 — Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading nonprofit funder of innovative Lyme disease research in the U.S., today announced the results of the first citizen-scientist study to evaluate the prevalence of disease-carrying ticks throughout the United States. Conducted through a partnership with Northern Arizona University and Colorado State University and published in the peer-review journal PLOS ONE, the study is based on a massive sample of more than 16,000 ticks collected from 49 U.S. states and Puerto Rico. The study found ticks capable of carrying Lyme and other tick-borne diseases in 83 counties (in 24 states) where these ticks had not been previously recorded. The program received a six-fold increase in tick submissions over initial estimates, representing unprecedented national coordination of a ‘citizen science’ effort and diagnostic investigation.

“Identifying geographic patterns of tick-human contact provides valuable insight that may help public health officials, patients and physicians become more vigilant about Lyme disease, increasing early diagnosis,” stated Linda Giampa, executive director at Bay Area Lyme Foundation. “Based on these findings, it is critical that residents throughout the country take precautions and know the symptoms of tick-borne infections, even in areas where ticks have not previously been shown to cause disease.”

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 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.