New Lyme disease test distinguishes between early and late-stage disease

April 7, 2021

Lyme disease

For those who live in an area blighted by ticks, the threat of Lyme disease can cast a shadow over the joy of spring and summer. These blood-sucking arachnids can transmit bacteria into the bloodstream of their unsuspecting host, causing the disease. Early treatment is essential, but current tests are not usually sensitive enough to detect the disease in early-stage patients. A recent study in open-access journal Frontiers in Microbiology reveals a new test for Lyme disease, which is the first to reliably distinguish between early- and late-stage patients. The test detects a genetic sequence left by a virus that resides in Lyme-causing bacteria, and can detect just one bacterial cell in a small blood sample.

As the most common tick-borne infection, Lyme affects nearly 500,000 people in the U.S. every year. Symptoms include fever, fatigue, joint pain, and a distinctive ‘bullseye’ rash, but if left untreated, the disease can cause paralysis and even death. As such, is important, but difficult.

“Early diagnosis of Lyme disease is absolutely vital in reducing suffering, because early Lyme can be treated, but late Lyme is very difficult to treat,” explained Dr. Jinyu Shan of the University of Leicester, lead author on the study. “Current tests cannot typically detect the low numbers of bacteria in early-stage patient blood samples. Our goal was to design a highly sensitive to help doctors to identify Lyme disease as early as possible.” (See link for article)


Study here: https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2021/03/31/targeting-multicopy-prophage-genes-for-the-increased-detection-of-borrelia-burgdorferi-sensu-lato-the-causative-agents-of-lyme-disease-in-blood/

Evidently the test is unique in that it is based on prophages that have a genetic sequence inserted into the bacteria by a virus which can escape the bacteria, and is more likely to be picked up in the blood due to having multiple copies within cells.

They found the test is sensitive and can detect one bacterial cell in .3 mL of blood.  Infected patients have between 1-100 bacterial cells per mL of blood.

The test is the first to distinguish between healthy, early-stage, and late-stage samples.

I must admit that the debacle with PCR testing for COVID has made me extremely skeptical and wary.  I hope that this isn’t too good to be true.  Time will tell.

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