RESEARCHERS TEST RAPID DIAGNOSTIC TECHNIQUE FOR LYME DISEASE
Valhalla, N.Y., July 5, 2005—Two New York Medical College researchers—a microbiologist and a clinician—are launching a study of a new Lyme disease blood test that could revolutionize diagnostic techniques for the infection, and other infectious diseases as well, by using information from the human genome.
Ira Schwartz, Ph.D., professor and chairman of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, and Gary P. Wormser, M.D., professor of medicine, director of the Division of Infectious Diseases and vice chairman of the Department of Medicine, have received a grant from the Centers for Disease Control to study response to infection by patients recently infected with the Lyme disease bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi. By examining human gene expression in response to this infection, doctors may be able to identify patients who are actively infected in a matter of hours. Current testing methods, such as those that look for an antibody response to the infectious agent, take days to process and often produce a negative result if conducted early in the course of infection.
The primary benefits of the experimental test are speed and detection of active, as opposed to past, resolved infection. The test may be able to detect Lyme disease in a patient before the body has launched a full immune response. The investigators believe the method has the potential to detect the presence of other infections in the body by using genetic codes.
The investigators are recruiting 50 volunteers from the Westchester County area for the study. Subjects should have a suspected Lyme disease (“bull’s eye”) rash. People who have had Lyme disease in the past will be considered as subjects for the study.