New York Medical College

NYMC Examines:

Lyme Disease

During 1992--2006, a total of 248,074 cases of Lyme disease were reported to CDC by health departments in the 50 states.

Three Schools, Three Perspecitves

 

Snapshot: Lyme disease, B. burgdorferi, and erlichiosis

Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne infectious disease in both the United States and Europe, and the problem is especially severe in the Northeast, home to New York Medical College. The battle against the insidious and debilitating infection continues unabated as clinicians encounter patients with symptoms potentially involving the skin, nervous system, joints and heart.

College researchers are addressing Lyme disease by developing new, improved diagnostic tests and, in a truly ingenious approach, a vaccine for wildlife that carry the spirochete that causes Lyme disease.

Visit the Lyme Disease Diagnostic Center website.

A top-flight team of experts in the study of tick-borne diseases is led by Gary P. Wormser, M.D., chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and professor of medicine. Dr. Wormser, who is also chief of Infectious Diseases at Westchester Medical Center, is an expert on Lyme disease, anaplasmosis and babesiosis. His interest in infectious diseases goes back much further: in 1981, he and colleagues wrote the first paper on AIDS to appear in a scientific journal, and he has spoken on the use of smallpox and other deadly viruses as bioterrorist weapons.

Ira Schwartz, Ph.D., chairman of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, also specializes in Lyme disease research and collaborates with Dr. Wormser to provide the basic science for Dr. Wormser’s clinical studies. In collaboration with Raymond Dattwyler, M.D., professor of microbiology and immunology, Dr. Schwartz is using techniques of molecular biology to create a more accurate Lyme disease test that is based on genetics rather than presence of antibodies.

Raymond Dattwyler, M.D., professor of medicine and of microbiology and immunology, is approaching the problem from a unique perspective: a vaccine used to treat the wildlife that carry infected deer ticks, the Lyme disease vector. Since there is no human vaccine against the disease, Dr. Dattwyler’s approach is to develop an oral wildlife “bait vaccine,” designed to control B. burgdorferi, the Lyme disease bacteria, where it originates—in ticks that bite humans.