APR 06, 2018 4:07 AM PDT

New Diagnostic Test for Lyme Disease

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker

Diagnostic tests for Lyme disease, or Lyme neuroborreliosis (LNB) can take up to a week, but patients affected need antibiotics as soon as possible to prevent the risk of life-long symptoms. A new test, developed thanks to Finnish company Reagena and University of Turku scientists, will speed up the process.

This photomicrograph reveals the presence of the spirochaete bacteria known as Borrelia burgdorferi, which is the pathogen that causes Lyme disease. Credit: CDC Public Health Image Library

LNB is spread by ticks and affects the nervous system, caused by the bacterial species Borrelia burgdorferi. It’s the most common vector-borne disease in the United States; there are 20,000 new cases reported every year. LNB infection occurs in stages.

First, after about three days of infection to up to a month after, many patients experience a target-like rash. Then comes neurologic abnormalities and cardiac involvement in some patients for several months. Musculoskeletal pain and chronic arthritis in large joints, often the knee, can last for years.

The characteristic rash doesn’t always appear, in which case someone might not know they were bit by a tick at all, let alone that they have LNB. The new diagnostic test could help affected people receive antibiotic treatment as soon as possible as well as help avoid unnecessary antibiotic use, reducing the contribution to antibiotic resistance.

Current tests for LNB include looking for infection symptoms, cerebrospinal fluid tests, and antibody production from an activated immune response. The newer test is faster and able to

target antibiotic treatment to people with a high chance of having or developing neuroborreliosis, which can reduce the risk of post-treatment symptoms related to the infection.

The new test detects LNB by measuring concentration of a cytokine called CXCL13 in cerebrospinal fluid. High CXCL13 is a clear and well-known sign of untreated neuroborreliosis. It increases faster during neuroborreliosis than antibiotic concentrations do, and it declines quickly after antibiotic treatment starts.

“We have demonstrated that this point-of-care test is extremely efficient,” explained Jukka Hytonen from the University of Turku, who developed the idea for the new test. “As a result, we suggest that the diagnostic practice for neuroborreliosis in Finland would be reorganised so that the CXCL13 concentration would be measured immediately after the lumbar puncture for cerebrospinal fluid.”

The present study was published in the journal Diagnostic Microbiology & Infectious Disease.

Sources: American Journal of Neuroradiology, University of Turku

About the Author
  • I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
You May Also Like
AUG 04, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Alzheimer's Blood Test Serves as a Crystal Ball
AUG 04, 2020
Alzheimer's Blood Test Serves as a Crystal Ball
According to a recent study, the answers could lie in a simple blood test.
AUG 17, 2020
Cancer
Are Cancer Exosomes a Good Source of Biomarkers?
AUG 17, 2020
Are Cancer Exosomes a Good Source of Biomarkers?
One of cancer’s most aggravating qualities is its ability to control the microenvironment around it. This control ...
AUG 17, 2020
Microbiology
Ingestible Bacteria-Catcher Could Act as a Diagnostic Tool
AUG 17, 2020
Ingestible Bacteria-Catcher Could Act as a Diagnostic Tool
Microbes in our gastrointestinal tract may not only be closely linked to our health, but they may also be useful as a di ...
OCT 01, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Presenting the World's Smallest Ultrasound Detector
OCT 01, 2020
Presenting the World's Smallest Ultrasound Detector
It’s smaller than a human cell, but the diminutive size of the newly-developed ultrasound detector is by no means ...
OCT 03, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Test Diagnoses Dementia While You Sleep by Estimating Your Brain Age
OCT 03, 2020
Test Diagnoses Dementia While You Sleep by Estimating Your Brain Age
Researchers at Harvard have discovered a novel diagnostic marker of dementia for identifying undiagnosed patients or tho ...
OCT 08, 2020
Cardiology
Omega-3 Enriched Chicken as a Fish Alternative for Omega-3 Fatty Acids
OCT 08, 2020
Omega-3 Enriched Chicken as a Fish Alternative for Omega-3 Fatty Acids
We have all seen those articles telling us to get more omega-3 fatty acids in our diet. Many studies point to these spec ...
Loading Comments...