Tick Talk: Uncovering the Latest in Lyme

This past August, guests joined Forsyth leadership at the Martha's Vineyard home of board member Dr. John Ficarelli and his wife Vicky Danberg to lear more about Dr. Antonio Campos-Neto's work to diagnose Lyme disease more accurately and quickly.

A blood test is currently the most widely-used laboratory tool to diagnose Lyme disease. It works in some cases, but has major limitations in others. Perhaps the greatest drawback is its poor sensitivity in early infection, in which only 20% of actual infections are detected. Blood testing also cannot differentiate between active and past Lyme disease, and cannot be used as a “test of cure” in patients whose symptoms persist despite therapy.

Dr. Campos-Neto has teamed with researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess and MGH to take a new approach. They are developing a new and highly accurate test for early Lyme disease that detects molecules from the infecting bacterium in the saliva and urine of patients with Lyme. This test does not rely upon an antibody response in the infected person, and can detect infections much earlier after a tick bite occurs in both humans and dogs. In addition, once the infection is resolved by antibiotic treatment, these markers disappear from body fluids when a patient is cured. The test can therefore be used to monitor the success of treatment in both acute and chronic Lyme disease. With funding, a test could be developed within three years.