Global Lyme Alliance funds innovative and ground-breaking research in Lyme and tick-borne diseases. Grant recipients are chosen on the basis of rigorous review by GLA’s scientific advisory board, and projects are in a variety of subject areas ranging from basic science, diagnostics, treatment and clinical understanding. GLA is pleased to announce the following projects were awarded in 2020, and is grateful for the generous support of donors who make these awards possible.
With 476,000 annual new Lyme disease cases and up to 2 million with post-treatment Lyme disease in the US, the disease burden nationally — and globally — is unacceptably high. GLA hopes that research discoveries will reduce tick-borne disease morbidity and mortality, and provide better treatments so that all will be diagnosed and treated in an effective manner.
Dr. Monica Embers
Tulane National Primate Center Study (2020):"Microbial etiology of CNS disease in Lyme and Alzheimer's disease"
Up to 15% of patients with Lyme disease develop neuroborreliosis affecting either the central nervous system (CNS) or peripheral nervous system. CNS symptoms can become chronic and debilitating. Careful study is needed, to determine whether the Lyme spirochete, B. burgdorferi, its remnants, or multiple microbes are in CNS tissues of patients. In addition, the potential contribution of pathogenic microbes to dementia-inducing disease is a subject of considerable importance. This study will use multiple, overlapping methods to identify pathogens in post-mortem brain tissue from patients with a history of neurologic Lyme disease, Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and non-dementia controls. Various brain regions will be studied using both molecular detection and pathogen-specific staining. Pathology in the form of inflammatory lesions and AD plaques will be used as a road map for pathogen detection. This work may pave the way for new treatment strategies for both Lyme disease and AD.
Yale University Study (2020): "Development of an antigen capture assay for detection of active Babesia duncani infection"
Human babesiosis is a global tick-borne illness that is endemic in the United States. In the US, the parasites Babesia microti and Babesia duncani are the causes, and these can also be found in the blood supply due to asymptomatic donors and the absence of systematic testing. However, illness can be serious and potentially fatal, particularly for the immunocompromised. Due to the lack of optimal diagnostic tests, most B. duncani cases are likely misdiagnosed. Since infection by B. duncani may result in more severe disease, correct diagnosis is critical for timely treatment. This study aims to develop the first test for specific and sensitive diagnosis of active B. duncani infection, based on detection of a conserved set of antigens produced by the organism as it replicates in the blood. It could also be used to screen and safeguard the blood supply.
Tufts University Study (2020): "Effects of ozone on Borrelia burgdorferi induced immune response"
Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative agent of Lyme disease, establishes long term infection by evading host immune responses. Most of the manifestations of disease are thought to be the result of the immune response to the organism. This study will examine the effects of ozone treatment on immune cell function during B. burgdorferi infection. Both bacterial cells and macrophages will be exposed to ozone. The effects on cytokines, macrophage activation states, and metabolic activity will be measured. Further testing of the mouse knee arthritis model will allow study of immunological changes during long-term infection.