April 21, 2021

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

Credit: CC0 Public Domain For those who reside in an area blighted by ticks, the hazard of Lyme disease can cast a shadow over the delight of spring and summer season. These blood-sucking arachnids can send bacteria into the blood stream of their unwary host, causing the disease. Early treatment is vital, however current tests…


Lyme disease Credit: CC0 Public Domain For those who reside in an area blighted by ticks, the hazard of Lyme disease can cast a shadow over the delight of spring and summer season. These blood-sucking arachnids can send bacteria into the blood stream of their unwary host, causing the disease. Early treatment is vital, however current tests are not typically delicate enough to discover the disease in early-stage patients. A recent study in open-access journal Frontiers in Microbiology reveals a brand-new test for Lyme disease, which is the very first to reliably distinguish between early- and late-stage patients. The test identifies a genetic sequence left by a virus that lives in Lyme-causing bacteria, and can detect just one bacterial cell in a small blood sample.

As the most common tick-borne infection, Lyme disease impacts nearly 500,000 individuals in the U.S. every year. Signs include fever, tiredness, joint discomfort, and an unique ‘bullseye’ rash, but if left neglected, the disease can cause paralysis and even death. As such, early medical diagnosis is important, however tough.

“Early medical diagnosis of Lyme disease is absolutely important in decreasing suffering, because early Lyme can be dealt with, but late Lyme is really challenging to treat,” discussed Dr. Jinyu Shan of the University of Leicester, lead author on the research study. “Existing tests can not usually detect the low numbers of bacteria in early-stage client blood samples. Our goal was to develop a highly sensitive test to assist medical professionals to determine Lyme illness as early as possible.”

Shan’s test is based upon polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, which works by magnifying small amounts of specific hereditary product so that it can be spotted. To date, this technique has actually not been especially useful in spotting Lyme-causing germs in the blood. Such germs frequently hide in tissues, and may not exist in the blood in great deals. Furthermore, much of the hereditary sequences targeted by PCR have only a single copy within each cell, making it challenging to find and enhance enough for detection.

Shan and his colleagues understood that there is another potential PCR target in Lyme-causing bacteria. These targets are called prophages, and are a hereditary sequence that was inserted into the germs by an infection. Gladly, such hereditary product can leave the bacteria and is therefore more likely to be detectable in the blood, and numerous copies are present in private bacterial cells.

The researchers evaluated their new prophage-targeted test by including small amounts of Lyme-causing bacteria to blood samples. They found that the test was really delicate, spotting just one bacterial cell in 0.3 mL of blood. This recommends that the test is delicate enough for usage with human samples, as individuals infected with Lyme-causing germs normally have between 1 and 100 bacterial cells per mL of blood.

Based upon these appealing results, the researchers utilized their PCR test to examine blood samples from healthy volunteers and clients with either early-stage or late-stage Lyme disease. Noticeably, the test could effectively distinguish healthy, early-stage and late-stage Lyme illness samples, and is the first technology to effectively accomplish this. “The test might likewise be really beneficial in rapidly eliminating somebody with suspected Lyme illness,” said Shan.

The strategy might also be applicable to diagnostic tests for other bacterial infections, if researchers can identify suitable prophage sequences for such germs. The innovation will require more development prior to it is suitable for scientific usage, but the researchers have already started the foundation for this. “We are currently working with a commercial partner, and investigating regulatory problems and the potential for a clinical trial for this innovation,” said Shan.

Paper-based test might detect Lyme illness at early stages More info: Jinyu Shan et al, Targeting Multicopy Prophage Genes for the Increased Detection of Borrelia burgdorferi Sensu Lato (s.l.), the Causative Agents of Lyme Disease, in Blood, Frontiers in Microbiology (2021 ). DOI: 10.3389/ fmicb.2021.651217

Citation: New Lyme disease test distinguishes between early and late-stage illness (2021, April 7) retrieved 8 April 2021 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-04-lyme-disease-distinguishes-early-late-stage.html

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