New Paper-based Test to Diagnose Lyme Disease Developed

by Colleen Fleiss on  December 20, 2019 at 7:09 AM Tropical Disease News
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A new blood test to quickly and sensitively diagnose Lyme disease at early stages has been developed by researchers. The findings of the study have been reported in ACS Nano.
New Paper-based Test to Diagnose Lyme Disease Developed
New Paper-based Test to Diagnose Lyme Disease Developed

About 300,000 cases of Lyme disease, which is caused by the tick-borne bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, are diagnosed in the U.S. each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Early symptoms of the disease include the characteristic skin rash, along with fever, headache, chills and muscle aches. If not treated promptly with antibiotics, more severe symptoms, such as facial palsy, nerve pain, heart palpitations and arthritis, can occur.

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However, 10-20% of infected people do not develop the rash, and existing diagnostic blood tests are slow, costly or insensitive at early stages, when treatment is most effective. Aydogan Ozcan and colleagues wanted to develop a fast, easy-to-use and inexpensive blood test to diagnose Lyme disease soon after infection.

The device included a sensing membrane that contained several spots covering seven bacterial antigens and a synthetic peptide. Antibodies from serum samples that attached to the spots were detected with a solution that changed color, depending on the amount of antibody captured.

The researchers took pictures of the color changes on a smart phone, then analyzed all of the spots with a neural network they developed that could determine whether the sample was positive or negative for Lyme disease.

When tested on 50 blood samples from people with or without early-stage Lyme disease, the assay had a specificity of 96.3% and a sensitivity of 85.7%. In addition to being much more sensitive than existing tests, the assay requires 15 minutes to complete and costs only 42 cents per test.

Source: Eurekalert

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