Global Lyme Alliance's Chief Scientific Officer, Timothy Sellati, Ph.D., was interviewed by Fox5NY.com on the latest developments in Lyme disease testing.
by Chris Welch for Fox5NY.com
NEW YORK - Scientists are now closer than ever before to creating a diagnostic test for Lyme disease.
The Global Lyme Alliance's Dr. Timothy Sellati called this "really big news."
"It's a really transformative discovery," Sellati said. "It's really important because it is a very difficult disease to diagnose."
What Is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted through the bite of a tick. But the symptoms can present like those of other diseases, including COVID, influenza, multiple sclerosis, and chronic fatigue syndrome.
A misdiagnosis can leave an infection to grow for years, which, Sellati said, causes "more and more damage until effective treatment is provided to the patient."
Scientists "don't really understand" the disease, according to Dr. Avi Ma'ayan of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
Diagnosing Lyme Disease
It's traditionally been hard for doctors to determine whether a person has lingering bacteria in their system, has damage that was caused when they were infected, or has an activated immune system "and they are just not returning back to their normal state," Ma'ayan said.
Thanks to Ma'ayan and his colleagues' work, the molecular mechanisms are becoming clearer, and the disease may finally be getting less confusing. They've determined that a person's gene expression — the way a person's genes show up in the blood — may be able to diagnose long-term Lyme disease.
"We could detect that the genes that are known to be associated with an immune response are upregulated," Ma'ayan said. "That means that they are highly expressed."
"They have identified a set of genes that allow them to diagnose post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome or chronic Lyme disease patients," added Sellati of the Global Lyme Alliance.
The real-world result is that a diagnostic test for Lyme disease may be in sight. It wouldn't be 100% accurate but it would be close.
"It will be high probability that you have it," Ma'ayan said. "It will be in the 90th percentile."
When Will a Lyme Disease Test Be Available?
Ma'ayan said a test could be on the market in one to two years.
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The above material is provided for information purposes only. The material (a) is not nor should be considered, or used as a substitute for, medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, nor (b) does it necessarily represent endorsement by or an official position of Global Lyme Alliance, Inc. or any of its directors, officers, advisors or volunteers. Advice on the testing, treatment or care of an individual patient should be obtained through consultation with a physician who has examined that patient or is familiar with that patient’s medical history.