How Do You Build a Biobank to Solve the Problem of Lyme Disease? Literally – One Tick Bite at a Time

Lyme Disease Biobank

Written by: Jo Ellis, Bay Area Lyme Volunteer and Supporter

Science is all about asking questions and finding answers. It attracts the curious, the driven, the questioners and fact seekers—the people who won’t accept the status quo and who are always pushing to learn more. If we keep asking science the right questions, we’re bound to get to the right answers eventually. It’s simple, right?

Unfortunately, not. As with everything about Lyme disease the answers to the questions are not so simple. Lyme is a complicated, nuanced disease with many challenging attributes, so much so that even the most experienced clinicians and medical researchers struggle to understand the many ways the infection impacts the human body. So, if you’re going to try and solve the puzzle of Lyme disease, where is the best place to start? How do you get all the pieces in place to move the needle to solve the complexity of this disease?

Enter Bay Area Lyme Foundation and Principal Investigator, Liz Horn PhD, MBI. When they were planning this project, they asked research scientists in the field of Lyme disease what were their big obstacles to finding out more about Lyme? What did scientists need so that they could start chipping away at the conundrum of this horrible disease?

First Female US Air Force Thunderbird Pilot and Her Fiercest Battle Yet

Col. Nicole Malachowski, Former Deputy Director for US Air Force Readiness and Training for the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense, and Bay Area Lyme Foundation Ambassador

Col. Nicole Malachowski, first female Thunderbird pilot, National Women’s Hall of Famer, and Former Deputy Director for US Air Force Readiness and Training for the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, and Bay Area Lyme Foundation Ambassador shares her challenging journey from military fighter to Lyme warrior.

Proof of Persistent Lyme

Monica Embers, PhD, Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at Tulane University School of Medicine and Bay Area Lyme Scientific Advisory Board member

Monica Embers, PhD, Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at the Tulane National Primate Research Center and Bay Area Lyme Scientific Advisory Board member discusses xenodiagnosis, Borrelia persistence, and her ongoing research in non-human primates.

Bay Area Lyme Foundation Launches Ticktective™ Podcast

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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

Bay Area Lyme Foundation Launches Ticktective™ Podcast

PORTOLA VALLEY, Calif., September 30, 2020 — Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the US, announces the launch of the Ticktective podcast and video series.  Ticktective is a Bay Area Lyme Foundation program designed to investigate the latest scientific knowledge and advances in Lyme and tick-borne diseases. The podcast offers insightful discussion with researchers, physicians, patients, and thought leaders in the field.

“Because the science surrounding tick-borne disease is so complex and there are so many unanswered questions, Ticktective aims to share firsthand perspectives about the challenges of Lyme in ways that will intrigue more scientists, physicians and patients to join our battle towards making Lyme disease easy to diagnose and simple to cure,” said Linda Giampa, executive director, Bay Area Lyme Foundation.

There are more than 400,000 people diagnosed with Lyme disease each year in the US, and millions of Americans live with persistent Lyme disease (PLD) caused by an ongoing bacterial infection. The current “gold standard” diagnostic for Lyme disease misses up to 60% of cases of early stage Lyme disease, and if not treated promptly, Lyme may progress to a debilitating stage, becoming difficult, or impossible, to cure. Bay Area Lyme Foundation has funded over 100 research projects at 37 institutions across the US in a mission to find solutions for these patients.

Jacob Lemieux, MD, DPhil and Artem Rogovskyy, DVM, PhD Named Recipients of Bay Area Lyme Foundation’s 2020 Emerging Leader Award

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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

Jacob Lemieux, MD, DPhil and Artem Rogovskyy, DVM, PhD Named Recipients of Bay Area Lyme Foundation’s 2020 Emerging Leader Award

Biobank Samples to Aid 2020 Emerging Leader Award Winners in Discovery of New Rapid and Sensitive Diagnostics for Lyme Disease Testing

PORTOLA VALLEY, Calif., August 11, 2020 — Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the U.S., announces the recipients of the 2020 Emerging Leader Awards, which are designed to support promising scientists who represent the future of Lyme disease-research leadership. Jacob Lemieux, MD, DPhil of Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital, and Artem Rogovskyy, DVM, PhD of Texas A&M University will each receive $100,000 toward the development of novel direct-detection diagnostic approaches for Lyme disease. Both researchers will utilize biological samples from the Lyme Disease Biobank, a program of the Bay Area Lyme Foundation, working to accelerate research of Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections. Lyme disease is a potentially disabling infection impacting more than 400,000 Americans each year.

“The value of research proposed by our grant recipients is vital to our mission of making Lyme disease easy to diagnose and simple to cure.  In this year of COVID-19, we are pleased to have the opportunity to continue our grant program to fund the important work of these scientists addressing the most crucial requirement for Lyme disease – an accurate diagnostic test,” said Linda Giampa, executive director, Bay Area Lyme Foundation.

Lyme Diagnostics, Radioactive Ticks, and More

Artem Rogovsky, DVM, PhD (Texas A & M University)

Bay Area Lyme’s 2020 Emerging Leader Award Winner, Artem Rogovsky, DVM, PhD, of the Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University, discusses radioactive ticks, Lyme diagnostics, and how a kid’s birthday party can lead to novel research.

New Therapeutics for Infectious Diseases

– 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.

Lyme Disease Biobank Expands Into San Diego

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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

Lyme Disease Biobank Expands Into San Diego

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

Lyme Disease Biobank

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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

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.