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Next-generation Serodiagnostic Testing Allows Earlier And Accurate Detection Of Lyme Disease

Next-generation Serodiagnostic Testing Allows Earlier And Accurate Detection Of Lyme Disease

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  • Lyme disease testing with new technology allows for faster and accurate detection of the infection.
  • It reduces the rate of false positives by eliminating the cross-reactive antibodies that are produced in response to other bacteria not associated with Lyme disease.
  • Since the test is not antibody based, it does not require time for the antibody levels to reach a certain point of detection and can be caught earlier.

Effective, accurate and timely detection of Lyme disease is now possible with the discovery of a new and improved diagnostic test when compared to the available standard tests, suggest experts. An analysis of the new diagnostic test was published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases and conducted by a large collaboration of research teams from Rutgers University, Harvard University, Yale University, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the NIH and other academic centers, industry and public health agencies. The team suggests that the test is more accurate, detects infection earlier and has lower false positives and false negatives.

Lyme disease

Lyme disease is the most common tick borne infection in North America and Europe caused by four main bacterial species. It is transmitted by the bite of an infected black-legged tick, commonly known as a deer tick. Currently there are over 300,000 cases of Lyme disease in the United States and the disease is soon spreading into new regions.

Problem with the current tests of detection

The only tests approved by the FDA for detecting Lyme disease are antibody-based tests that use technology that is more than two decades old. The most common test to detect Lyme disease infection is an antibody-based test called ELISA (Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay). When bacteria infect the host, the host produces antibodies against the bacteria to fight the infection. Antibody-based tests rely on these host produced antibodies to confirm bacterial infection.


However, it takes anywhere from one to three weeks for the host to produce antibodies upon infection and the test detects the disease only weeks after infection allowing the disease to worsen. Moreover, antibody-based tests require a certain amount of antibodies to be present in the blood for detection, which might prolong diagnosis.

Additionally, it is important to note that many people produce similar antibodies, termed cross-reactive antibodies, in response to different bacteria. Therefore the antibodies detected by ELISA may not be associated with Lyme disease, which makes the results confusing and lowering accuracy.

The new test

The study suggests that the new test can detect infection before the associated health problems occur. The test is not antibody-based and therefore does not require a minimum threshold for detection.

Features of the new test:
  • Increased accuracy
  • Lower rate of false negatives and positives
  • Earlier disease detection
  • Not based on antibodies
"New tests are at hand that offer more accurate, less ambiguous test results that can yield actionable results in a timely fashion", said Steven Schutzer, co-author and a physician-scientist at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, "Improved tests will allow for earlier diagnosis which should improve patient outcomes," Schutzer added.

References :
  1. John A Branda, Barbara A Body, Jeff Boyle, Bernard M Branson, Raymond J Dattwyler, Erol Fikrig, Noel J Gerald, Maria Gomes-Solecki, Martin Kintrup, Michel Ledizet, Andrew E Levin, Michael Lewinski, Lance A Liotta, Adriana Marques, Paul S Mead, Emmanuel F Mongodin, Segaran Pillai, Prasad Rao, William H Robinson, Kristian M Roth, Martin E Schriefer, Thomas Slezak, Jessica Snyder, Allen C Steere, Jan Witkowski, Susan J Wong, Steven E Schutzer. Advances in Serodiagnostic Testing for Lyme Disease Are at Hand. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 2017; DOI: 10.1093/cid/cix943
  2. Overview Lyme Disease - (https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/lyme-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20374651)
Source: Medindia

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