APR 06, 2018 04:07 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
JUN 08, 2018
Clinical & Molecular DX
JUN 08, 2018
Early Detection of Tooth Decay from Bacterial Invasion
We all get cavities, but have we ever thought much about the biology of the process? From the Akson Russian Science Communication Association, scientists i...
JUN 20, 2018
Genetics & Genomics
JUN 20, 2018
The Cause of a Rare Neurological Disease is Identified
In a recent study, scientists sequenced the genome to find the mutation behind a disorder that causes blindness and paralysis....
JUN 28, 2018
Cardiology
JUN 28, 2018
"Prehab" Prior to Heart Surgery Boosts Post-Op Recovery
Canadian doctors are promoting the idea of “prehabilitation” for elderly heart disease patients awaiting heart surgery. “Prehab” of...
OCT 30, 2018
Drug Discovery
OCT 30, 2018
Re-sensitizing Drug-resistant Human Tumor Cells
Understanding how cancer cells avoid death despite their DNA being damaged will create new strategies to enhance cancer cell killing through chemotherapy t...
NOV 01, 2018
Cell & Molecular Biology
NOV 01, 2018
Researchers Link Parkinson's Disease and the Appendix
When a person's appendix is removed early in life, it reduces their chances of getting Parkinson's disease....
NOV 21, 2018
Cannabis Sciences
NOV 21, 2018
Can Cannabis Help Manage Type II Diabetes?
Type II diabetes is a chronic debilitating disease originating from a combination of lifestyle and genetics that eventually leads to insulin resistance, th...
Loading Comments...