What are some symptoms of Lyme Disease? What progress is being made to test patients who may have it?
Those were a few questions answered at George Mason University‘s Galileo Science Cafe on Thursday.
Dr. Samuel Shor, physician and founding principal of Internal Medicine of Northern Virginia, and Alessandra Luchini, an associate professor in George Mason’s Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine, spoke at the event.
Lyme Disease, Luchini said, is a bacterial infection passed on by ticks that can, in the early stages, be treated with antibiotics. If it isn’t treated properly, however, Lyme Disease can lead have serious side effects, such as chronic joint inflammation.
“There definitely are major barriers that we all see in relation to this condition,” Shor said. “I characterize it as a perfect storm. You’ve got a growing tick population – particularly given the pretty mild winter we had … And then you’ve got a medical community that denies the near existence of this chronic disease, because there’s not a test that can prove that’s what they have.”
Chronic fatigue, joint pain and sleeping disorders are a few symptoms, according to Shor.
“It’s our goal that we will continue to collaborate and educate patients to be more aware as well as the medical community to be more aware and accepting, so that we not only don’t let patients fall through the cracks but do the research that we need to better diagnose and better manage folks who are chronically disabled,” Shor added.
Luchini talked about a piece of nanotechnology called “The Nanotrap” that could help doctors determine if a patient has Lyme Disease.
“It’s a sheer, [it] has very high affinity bait that almost goes around and fish for these biomarkers that derives from the infectious disease agent,” Luchini said. “And in presence of let’s say borrelia here that are identified with these, we have the nanoparticles and they will suck – like almost like a vacuum cleaner – all the biomarkers. And then we can extract these particles, so now we left behind all the proteins we don’t care about and our particle will have only the proteins that we do care about.
Luchini also provided the results of a clinical trial was performed on patients who were suspected of contracting Lyme Disease and those who were receiving care or therapy for the infection.
“Originally, we found that 40 percent approximately of the patients that we analyzed they had persistence of the bacteria in their body in face of multiple treatments,” Luchini said. “So, this is a very solid, molecularly based proof that the disease is indeed in the patient, even after therapy.”
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