Scientists Work Toward Rapid Point-of-Care Diagnostic Test for Lyme Disease
A study published in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology describes a new rapid assay for Lyme disease that could lead to a practical test for use by health care providers. The researchers found that the assay, which uses several biomarkers to detect Lyme disease infection, was more sensitive than current laboratory-based tests when diagnosing Lyme disease early after suspected infection. The research was supported by NIAID.
Lyme disease is caused by Borrelia burgdorferi, a spiral-shaped bacterium transmitted by deer ticks. Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated effectively with a short course of antibiotics. However, Lyme disease can be difficult to diagnose because it causes a wide range of symptoms, from fever and rash to neurologic and cardiac symptoms and joint pain.
Current Lyme disease tests also can miss an infection if performed too early. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a two-step blood test for diagnosing Lyme disease that looks for antibodies against Lyme disease. These tests require specialized laboratory equipment and can require days or weeks to return results.
The authors of the paper plan to develop a simpler, faster, more sensitive test that could be used at the point of care during a single visit to a health care provider.