Reflections from a Promising Dialogue at the AAAS Conference in Washington, DC, November 17-18
by Lia Gaertner, BAL Science Committee
Some weeks ago, two members of the Bay Area Lyme Foundation Science Committee, Wendy Adams and Lia Gaertner, attended a leadership symposium in Washington, DC, sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and entitled, “Innovations-X: Rising Above the Politics for Progress in Science.” The AAAS is the world’s largest general scientific society, with more than 125,000 individual and institutional members, and the publisher of Science magazine. Its mission is “to advance science, engineering, and innovation throughout the world for the benefit of all people.”At this event, there were three “wicked problems” discussed over two days: climate change, global/mobile health, and Lyme disease. This blog, written by Lia Gaertner, will focus only on the Lyme portion of the conference.
The Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation Grants $6.5 Million to
Bay Area Lyme Foundation
Gift is part of the largest private donation for Lyme disease research—100% of grant will go directly to Lyme disease research programs.
SILICON VALLEY, California, December 17, 2015 –The Bay Area Lyme Foundation today announced that it received a $6.5 million grant from the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation, the largest private donation ever given to Lyme disease research. The gift will support Bay Area Lyme’s mission of using new scientific research and innovations to make Lyme disease easy to diagnose and simple to cure.
“I was shocked to learn how many people suffer from Lyme disease in silence, and how much we still need to do to raise awareness and help find a cure,” said Alex Cohen, President of the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation. “This gift is incredibly personal to me as I have experienced, first-hand, the chronic and debilitating side effects of this relatively unknown disease. We share Bay Area Lyme Foundation’s desire to find a cure for Lyme disease and hope that this gift will help pave the way to that important work.”
Biofilms that form in the human body are up to ten thousand times more resistant to antibiotics than free-floating bacteria, making them very difficult to treat medically. These biofilms are responsible for the extreme persistence of many difficult to treat illnesses like Legionnaire’s disease, Staphylococcus aureus (“Staph”), and infectious bronchitis, that can trouble patients with frustrating symptoms for years.
Some years ago researchers showed that biofilms might also be helping the Lyme-causing bacteria evade treatment.(1) These findings have excited Lyme researchers who have since been exploring various treatment strategies designed to target the entire bacterial colony. If successful, these treatments might bring long-needed relief to patients with late-stage or persistent Lyme disease where antibiotics have previously failed.
At Bay Area Lyme Foundation, we are also inspired by these discoveries and hopeful about the treatment options they may bring. Recently we invited Daina Zeng, a Senior Scientist at Agile Sciences, to talk about the work her team is doing adapting Agile’s proprietary non-toxic organic compounds to disperse these bacterial colonies (technology they have leveraged for medical, agricultural, and industrial uses). Her post follows.
Bay Area Lyme Foundation Announces Grant Application for Two $100,000 Awards for Lyme Disease Research
‘Emerging Leader Award’ aims to attract new scientific talent to address scientific challenges of Lyme disease
Silicon Valley, California, October 5, 2015—The Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading national funder of Lyme disease research in the US, today announced a call for applications for two $100,000 Bay Area Lyme Foundation ‘Emerging Leader Award’ grants.These awards will be given to two 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 are currently at the post-doctoral level through the assistant Professor level, or equivalent, who have identified a defined approach to improve diagnostics or therapies for Lyme disease. Important criteria include demonstrated professional and scientific leadership in the biomedical sciences and a strong supporting scientific rationale for the project.Research efforts funded by the award are required to generate initial proof of concept within 12–18 months.
Why is it that Lyme disease is so little understood, so hard to diagnose, and so frustratingly difficult to get treated? Such were the questions discussed last night at the first of the new Bay Area Lyme Foundation Speaker Series talks.
2014 Emerging Leader Award recipient Jerome Bouquet, PhD, UCSF, began the program with a compelling overview of the history of Lyme disease and its pathology, highlighting some of the complicated attributes of the Lyme-causing spirochete and the manifestations of its infection. He touched on promising new technologies like the Tick Chip and the IBIS-developed Iridica, which use unbiased DNA amplification and multiplex assays with greater sensitivity (and more immediate results) than traditional methods. He also described promising developments in transcriptomics that have illustrated the lingering effects of the disease up to six months after treatment, and
The following is a guest post by a young author and Lyme patient who has turned her experience into a catalyst to help others find their voice and break the silence around long-term struggles with Lyme disease and other chronic illnesses. You can read more about Allie in our Faces of Lyme section and on her own website, sufferingthesilence.com.
Everyone knew about Lyme disease in the town where I grew up. “Easy to diagnose and simple to treat,” people said. “As long as you get the medicine in you, you’ll be fine.” As a kid, I was always hearing stories about someone who had recently been diagnosed with Lyme – parents, cousins, siblings, pets – and in almost every case, the stories I heard were short.
New Study Reveals Ticks in Bay Area Carry Larger Diversity of Bacteria Than Expected and May Help Explain Why Lyme Disease Symptoms Vary Widely Among Bay Area Patients
Rates of tick infection with Borrelia miyamotoi are found to be higher in the Bay Area than previously documented on East Coast, and Tick-borne disease infection risk is shown to be higher in Redwood habitats than previously believed
SILICON VALLEY, Calif., August 19, 2015 — Bay Area Lyme Foundation, which is working to make Lyme disease easy to diagnose and simple to cure, highlights a new Bay Area studyconducted by researchers from Stanford and Northern Arizona Universities documenting a vast diversity of bacterial species and strains that cause tick-borne diseases in Bay Area residents and visitors.The variety of bacterial species and strains identified may be the reason that Bay Area patients with tick-borne diseases experience a wide range of symptoms, which may or may not include flu-like complaints, joint pain, fatigue and a rash of differing shapes, thereby making exact diagnoses extremely difficult.
Bay Area Lyme Foundation Awards Grant to Harvard Medical School Researchers for Development of an Accurate Test for Lyme Disease
2015 Emerging Leader Award Seeks to Accelerate Scientific Solutions for Lyme Disease
PORTOLA VALLEY, CA — Bay Area Lyme Foundation, the leading national nonprofit funder of innovative Lyme disease research, today announced that the winners of its 2015 Emerging Leader Award, are collaborators Nira Pollock, MD, PhD, and John Branda, MD. The $100,000 grant that accompanies this award will support their research on a potential biomarker for Lyme disease, which may lead to the development of a novel urine test for early Lyme disease. The most commonly used diagnostic for Lyme disease, the two-tier serological ELISA/Western Blot process, misses up to 60% of cases of early stage Lyme.