Breakthrough Lyme Disease Test is the “Next Generation” of Diagnostics; Crowd Funding Campaign Launches to Start Clinical Study

PHOENIX, Feb. 28, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- A new test for Lyme Disease may prove to be the most accurate tool available for the difficult-to-diagnose disease, giving hope to thousands of undiagnosed and misdiagnosed patients, if funding can be found to move it through clinical study to production.

The test, called LymeSeq™ is poised to transform the speed and precision of diagnosis over current tests. This test will detect multiple strains of Lyme bacteria, plus all major co-infections and non-Lyme causes of disease like Influenza and Staph.

LymeSeq, developed by research scientists at Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), has been funded by Focus On Lyme. The test may represent a breakthrough in diagnosis and testing for Lyme disease, which are currently about 50 percent accurate.

After five years shuttling her daughter specialists across the country and intense antibiotic treatments to battle this disease, Focus On Lyme Executive Director Tammy Crawford got in touch with TGen. Knowing the institute’s experience using genetic sequencing to identify pathogens like tuberculosis and E. coli, Crawford asked if TGen could do the same for Lyme disease and when they said yes, she personally funded the initial research. 

The researchers are led by Dr. Paul Keim, the Executive Director of the Pathogen and Microbiome Institute and the Cowden Endowed Chair of Microbiology at Northern Arizona University (NAU), as well as Director of the Pathogen Genomics Division TGen North in Flagstaff, Ariz. Dr. Keim is an internationally recognized expert in DNA-based research methods, a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

LymeSeq works by targeting and amplifying specific regions of the Lyme bacteria’s DNA as well as specific genes in related bacteria. That amplified DNA gets sequenced, then researchers determine the bacterial species present in the sample by searching for the DNA code specific to Lyme or other bacteria, explained Dr. David Engelthaler, Director of Programs and Operations at TGen North, and Director of the Public Health and Translational Genomics Center at the Pathogen and Microbiome Institute.

“LymeSeq has the potential to transform emergency rooms and doctor’s offices world wide, said Holly Ahern, MS, MT (ASCP) and SUNY Adirondack associate professor of microbiology, and a member of the leadership team at Focus on Lyme.

Dr. Richard Horowitz, author of "How Can I Get Better? An Action Plan for Treating Resistant Lyme and Chronic Disease,” said, “more than ever, we need an accurate test” referencing the National Science Foundation’s identification of Lyme disease as an emerging pandemic threat, siting the current “problematic two-tiered testing scheme,” for which LymeSeq shows promise of being “superior in every way.”

With exciting early signs of high accuracy, the next step is to advance the test into human trials. Crawford’s team of volunteers has raised more than $301,730 towards a goal of $500,000 to bring the test to market. BHHS Legacy Foundation recently stepped forward with an additional $100,000 in grant funding.

“With the development of any new medical advancement, the steps are long, arduous and expensive. But we’ve come so far in such a short period of time, we need your help to get us to the finish line,” Crawford said. “We are all volunteers. Every single penny we raise goes towards the research, we keep nothing back.”

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