Scientists identify biomarkers that could help diagnose Lyme disease

Scientists identify biomarkers that could help diagnose Lyme disease

Researchers say they have identified a set of biomarkers that could facilitate early diagnosis of Lyme disease, a possible first step toward more effective treatment estimated at 476,000 people diagnosed and treated for a tick-borne disease each year in the United States.

U study in Cell Reports Medicine, researchers explain how they pinpointed a specific set of genes that are activated in people with long-term Lyme disease. Up to 20 percent of patients suffer long-term symptoms.

The scientists sequenced the RNA of 152 patients with Lyme disease after treatment. The condition symptoms vary, but may include fatigue, brain fog, and pain for those who have received antibiotic therapy for Lyme disease. They compared the data with RNA sequenced from 72 patients with acute Lyme disease – previously symptomssuch as rash or facial paralysis – and 44 uninfected controls.

The data showed differences in gene expression in patients with acute and chronic Lyme disease. The researchers narrowed the list further by comparing gene expression in Lyme disease patients to that observed in patients with other infectious diseases. They then used machine learning to narrow the list even further.

Now they say they have identified 35 distinctive biomarkers that distinguish people with any type of Lyme disease from those without the condition. In the news let gothe researchers say they plan to use the biomarkers to develop a diagnostic test that could identify the condition in other patients.

The genetic test would be an improvement over the current FDA-approved one testswhich identify antibodies that can take weeks to appear.

The research was conducted by scientists from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Earlier this year, several researchers from Johns Hopkins published a study along with scientists from the University of California, San Francisco, announcing that developed panel of 31 biomarkers that allowed them to accurately identify Lyme disease in 95.2 percent of patients.

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