When it comes to early diagnosis of Lyme disease, the insidious tick-borne illness that afflicts about 300,000 Americans annually, finding the proverbial needle in the haystack might be a far easier challenge—until now, perhaps. An experimental method developed by federal and university researchers appears capable of detecting the stealthy culprit Lyme bacteria at the earliest time of infection, when currently available tests are often still negative.
The team suggests the approach might also be useful for early detection of other elusive bacterial infections. The collaborators—from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research, and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine—recently reported the successful first trial of their new method.
“Our hypothesis was that Lyme bacteria shed vesicle-like particles—or fragments—derived from the cell wall of the bacteria circulating in the serum of individuals. These particles would contain membrane proteins that can be detected to provide a unique indicator of infection,” explains NIST research chemist Larik Turko.
The challenge was to detect these bacterial membrane proteins among the far, far more plentiful proteins normally present in serum, the watery, cell-free component of blood. The researchers speculated that running serum samples through a high-speed centrifuge—a standard step in chemistry labs—might selectively concentrate the larger, heavier fragments containing the bacterial membrane proteins into pellets. In effect, they predicted, this step would separate the wheat—the sparse target proteins—from the chaff—the much more abundant human serum proteins.
The new method’s promise was demonstrated in tests on serum samples drawn from three patients with undetected Lyme disease at the time of their initial doctor visit. By customizing standard analytical techniques for determining the types and amounts of chemicals in a sample, the team detected extremely small amounts of the target protein in all three samples.
For chemistry buffs, the protein in enriched samples was present at a level of about four billionths of a millionth of a mole, the standard unit for amount of substance.
In one patient, the experimental method detected the bacteria three weeks before infection was confirmed with the standard blood tests now used. For the other two, infection was detected simultaneously by the two methods.
“The complexity of Lyme disease, combined with lack of biomarkers to measure infection, has slowed progress,” study collaborator John Aucott, head of the Johns Hopkins Lyme Disease Clinical Research Center, said in advance of a session on precision and personalized medicine this weekend at the AAAS 2016 Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. “Now, thanks to recent advances in technology, the tiniest concentration of blood molecules can now be detected, molecules that were previously ‘invisible’ to scientists.”
The current standard blood test for Lyme disease exposes the infection only after antibodies have accumulated to detectable levels, which can take up to 4 to 6 weeks. If patients exhibit a telltale bull’s-eye rash, diagnosis and treatment can begin earlier. But the rash does not occur in 20 to 30 percent of Lyme disease patients, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Rather than waiting for an infected person’s immune system to produce noticeable amounts of antibodies, the team chose to home in on the bacteria itself—specifically, proteins the bug sheds when attacked by the body’s defenses.
“From many candidates, we chose one that is both easily distinguished from human serum proteins and an unambiguous indicator of the bacteria,” Turko says. “This protein, which resides on the outer surface of membranes, became the target of our search in serum samples.”
But finding that target required an important preliminary step to ensure the accuracy of their measurements: making a reference sample that contained ample amounts of the target protein. With the reference sample, the team established the unmistakable signature the bug’s outer-surface membrane protein would yield when they examined samples drawn from patients. As a result of these steps, the team could detect the copies of the target protein, even though human proteins were 10 million times more plentiful.
“We believe that this approach may be universally applicable to detection of other bacterial infections in humans,” the researchers write.
The Latest on: Lyme disease
via Google News
The Latest on: Lyme disease
- 'I'm being penalised for trying to improve my health...it's so unfair' - Woman with Lyme Disease hits out at VAT hike on February 9, 2019 at 3:27 am
Every day Nicola Slattery has to swallow up to 10 health supplements so she can live a normal life. She has Lyme Disease, a debilitating condition caused by a tick bite. Antibiotics help fight the sym... […]
- Living with Lyme disease is like hunting ghosts on February 9, 2019 at 3:26 am
"Is anybody here?" Silence. "We'd love to talk with you." Silence. "We mean you no harm." Silence. "Can you make a sound for us?" Diane's voice creeps upward through the blackness with a tinge of ... […]
- Lyme, West Nile prevention focus of Hempfield program on February 9, 2019 at 2:06 am
Tiny blacklegged ticks, and the Lyme disease they can transmit, will be discussed at a Feb. 21 program sponsored by the Westmoreland Woodlands Improvement Association. The 6:30 p.m. session at the J. […]
- Arthritis, nerve pain and chronic fatigue: my life with Lyme disease on February 8, 2019 at 12:56 am
Some medical experts claim that Lyme disease is worse than cancer. It’s not a competition, but I do know one thing: at least if you’ve got the Big C you get sympathy, understanding and prompt treatmen... […]
- Gigi Hadid: I Felt 'A Lot of Guilt' Growing Up Without Lyme Disease on February 7, 2019 at 7:42 pm
In addition to opening up about her family's battle with the chronic disease, the daughter of Yolanda Hadid talks about her own struggle to live with Hashimoto's disease. AceShowbiz - Gigi Hadid felt ... […]
- Gigi Hadid on Watching Yolanda Hadid and Siblings Battle Lyme Disease: "I Felt a Lot of Guilt" on February 7, 2019 at 10:01 am
While Gigi does not have Lyme disease, she was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease several years back, which she tells Elle "means you have an underactive thyroid. Most people get Hashimoto’s when they ... […]
- Gigi Hadid Says Her Mom's Battle With Lyme Disease Made Her 'Very Independent' at a Young Age on February 7, 2019 at 7:20 am
Gigi Hadid is opening up about her family's health struggles. The 23-year-old model covers the March issue of Elle and reveals how Lyme disease -- something her mom, Yolanda, sister Bella, and brother ... […]
- Gigi Hadid Opens Up About Her Family's Struggles with Chronic Lyme Disease on February 6, 2019 at 9:19 am
Gigi Hadid has a lot on her plate, but she maintains a remarkably calm disposition throughout her busy schedule, even while also learning to handle her and her family members' various health issues. I... […]
- Lyme Disease Brain Inflammation on February 5, 2019 at 4:12 pm
1 in 10 people who have been successfully treated with antibiotics for Lyme disease will develop chronic and sometimes debilitating poorly understood symptoms of brain fog and fatigue that can last fo... […]
- New Scan Technique Reveals Brain Inflammation Associated With Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome on February 5, 2019 at 8:03 am
More than 1 in 10 people successfully treated with antibiotics for Lyme disease go on to develop chronic, sometimes debilitating, and poorly understood symptoms of fatigue and brain fog that may last ... […]
via Bing News