Emerging Lyme Disease Tests Found Efficacious

Expert multidisciplinary team finds next-gen diagnostics ready for clinicians. 

Findings from the 2016 Banbury Center meeting published in Clinical Infectious Disease (CID) offers new insight into the early diagnosis of Lyme disease. Chaired by Steven E. Schutzer of Rutgers University-New Jersey Medical School and John A. Branda of Harvard University, the meeting brought together experts from around the health care industry and academia to discuss the emergence of new diagnostic tools to detect the chronic debilitating infection that effects hundreds of thousands of people each year.

Currently, the standard diagnostic protocol is based on identifying antibodies acting against the bacteria that cause the disease, Borrelia burgdorferi. According to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, the test usually consists of a two-level protocol offering a sensitive first enzyme immunoassay (EIA) test followed by a second Western immunoblot assay to increase specificity.

Researchers have identified most of the currently available diagnostic test’s shortcomings. For example, the current protocol is insensitive and therefore less able to offer firm results in the early days and weeks of the infection. Further, there can be complications and uncertainty following the second test.

The Banbury Center meeting’s experts reviewed direct detection methods as well as indirect detection methods. Direct detections methodologies are designed to detect the bacteria causing the infection; indirect detections are linked to a patient's immunologic response to the infection. "The CID publication is the result of critical assessment by a diverse group of experts that exemplifies the mission of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Banbury Center to support impactful scientific discourse at the highest level," explained Banbury Center Director Rebecca Leshan, Ph.D.  

"We know we can do better and it is time to focus attention on getting the latest technologies to doctors so they can more effectively diagnose and treat patients," noted the paper’s Senior Author Dr. Schutzer. “By examining current technologies and the latest published scientific data, the Banbury Center meeting participants conclude that scientific advances can improve on the current protocol with next-generation tests that use recombinant proteins or specific synthetic peptides, and alternative testing protocols.”


Nigel Walker

Mr. Walker is the founder and managing director of That’s Nice LLC, a research-driven marketing agency with 20 years dedicated to life sciences. Nigel harnesses the strategic capabilities of Nice Insight, the research arm of That’s Nice, to help companies communicate science-based visions to grow their businesses. Mr. Walker earned a bachelor’s degree in graphic design with honors from London College of Communication, University of the Arts London, England.