Webnews – Medical News and Health System Research Institute scientists work toward a rapid point-of-care diagnostic test for Lyme disease.
LONDON — Clinical trials are underway to develop a rapid point-of-care diagnostic test that could lead to quicker and more definitive diagnoses of Lyme disease and the many other infectious diseases associated with tick bites.
The test is expected to be the first of its kind and involves the central nervous system analysing blood samples obtained from blood sample banks as part of the global Lyme disease research program, the researchers said.
Researchers are assessing the effectiveness of the tests to find out which patients might respond best to the diagnostic test.
“By making this test accessible to everyone and allowing for mass use and immediate diagnosis, we hope it will lead to improved diagnosis, disease prevention and treatment and to reducing the burden of these diseases,” said Dr. Zygmunt Macvoll from Medical News Today, who is leading the clinical trial.
Lyme disease is a complex disease that affects people in rural areas of Northern Europe and in the United States. In northern Europe, up to 7 million people are bitten annually by ticks and the disease often requires hospital treatment.
Since the 1940s, the disease has been linked to Lyme disease, which is often misdiagnosed and treated with antibiotics. According to Public Health England, up to 2.3 million people in the United Kingdom have been diagnosed with the disease and every year since 2000 there have been several thousand cases of Lyme disease in the United States and the UK, with an annual figure of about 10,000.
Currently, diagnostic tests for Lyme disease and other infectious diseases often fail to diagnose a patient’s condition because they do not recognize the presence of tick bites, according to Public Health England. But the Canadian National Institute for Health and Welfare estimates that up to 60 per cent of people infected with Lyme disease will recover by the time they are hospitalized.
The test, which has been developed by researchers at the Department of Public Health of the University of Calgary and Partners Health Care in Pittsburgh, will be used to assess the effectiveness of the test in a test called the American Lyme Disease Diagnostic Test. It will take the blood sample of approximately 5,000 patients and involves examining “the location and sensitivity of the DNA in the blood, the rapid usage of the materials to perform microanalysis, taking independent blood counts to assess blood banks and to calculate diagnostic response time for patients,” the researchers said.
“Our technology enables us to take the blood sample, cut it open, arrange the parts, and analyze the ‘preventing’ blood as opposed to the imaging and biological diagnostics ‘inactive’,” said Dr. Macvoll.
Lyme disease affects mainly individuals in the North Central region, including southern parts of Alberta and Saskatchewan, but it also affects people living in North American states, including the US, Canada, Puerto Rico, and as far away as Europe.
The test has the potential to bring a quicker diagnosis to patients at a time when symptoms are reported very quickly.
“We were excited when physicians at Partners Health Care contacted us about developing the American Lyme Disease Diagnostic Test, and found out that they also planned to launch the test in the US,” said Macvoll.
“The development of this test is no small undertaking, yet it is a significant step forward for Lyme disease diagnosis and the wider Lyme disease research community,” he added.
Researchers in the World expect to discover what individual characteristics are best for detecting the presence of ticks and identify the best time for detecting the presence of tick bite.
Based on the analysis of blood samples, the test will determine the identification and disease severity in the blood.
Two independent blood analysis tests were used in the clinical trial. One tested blood from more than 100 people in Canada and the US and the other tested blood from more than 600 of the same people in Europe. This study was funded by a National Institutes of Health-UK funding grant.