Lyme disease round-up – August 2021

Posted: 7th September 2021

At Biocentaur, we stay at the cutting edge of new developments in diagnosing and treating Lyme disease. Our range of genetic tests is helping patients receive a fast and accurate diagnosis, enabling treatment to begin as soon as possible. 

You can learn more about our range of Lyme disease tests here.

Here are five Lyme disease stories that have caught the eye of the Biocentaur team this month.

Lyme disease vaccine enters Phase 2 clinical trials

A new Lyme disease vaccine known as VLA15 created by Valneva SE and Pfizer has entered Phase 2 clinical trials. Researchers have recently confirmed they have recruited 625 participants aged between 5 and 65 for the trial, marking a successful start. The trial aims to demonstrate the vaccine’s safety and immunogenicity (protection from infection) across a diverse population. Researchers also aim to evaluate the optimal vaccination schedule.

The vaccine is the only one of its type in development and targets the six Lyme disease serotypes prevalent in North America and Europe. If the trial is successful, it will enter Phase 3 trials before being made available to the public. The Phase 2 trial, which began in summer 2021, is scheduled to last for three years.

“(Lyme disease) continues to be a major concern and is prevalent in children,” warned Juan Carlos Jaramillo, Valneva’s Chief Medical Officer. “If successful, this trial could enable the inclusion of a pediatric population in the phase 3 trial.”

Lyme disease treatment guidelines updated

US guidelines for treating Lyme disease have been updated, reports the American Journal of Medicine. A multidisciplinary team has developed the new guidelines, including specialists in infectious diseases, neurology and rheumatology.

The guidelines provide extensive advice for clinicians, but the headlines include:

  • Two-tier serologic testing is the laboratory method recommended to diagnose Lyme disease.
  • Erythema migrans should be treated with a course of doxycycline for ten days and no longer.
  • The oral antibiotic doxycycline is recommended as a first-line treatment option for patients with neurologic Lyme disease.

You can read the full paper, Guidelines for Lyme Disease are Updated, here

Lyme disease and weather

Lyme disease is often considered a summer condition, but what part does the weather play in infection? A new study exploring the relationship between the weather and tick development and behaviour has failed to establish a connection.

During the study, scientists in Pennsylvania took temperature and humidity measurements during critical tick life stages. They found Lyme disease cases from health records and attempted to identify any patterns of exposure and response during the times. 

While the authors did identify an increase in “exposure-response” patterns during warmer days, it wasn’t enough to draw any conclusions. At the end of the study, the authors conclude that “Changing temperature and humidity could increase or decrease Lyme disease risk.”

You can read the study, Relations of peri-residential temperature and humidity in tick-life-cycle-relevant time periods with human Lyme disease risk in Pennsylvania, USA, here.

Herbal medicines effective against Lyme disease, study finds

Researchers have demonstrated that three herbal medicines – Black walnut (Juglans nigra), Cryptolepis (Cryptolepis sanguinolent), and Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum) – showed “high activity” in targeting Bartonella, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. In addition, two other herbal medicins (Barbat skullcap (Scutellaria barbata) and Chinese skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis)) demonstrated anti-microbial activity against the same bacteria.

In the research published in Infectious Microbes & Diseases, researchers describe how, in laboratory tests, the three herbal medicines were more effective than commonly prescribed antibiotics against Borrelia burgdorferi.

“These findings, which show that certain herbal medications are effective in the lab against multiple tick-borne infections, are an important advance for the tick-borne disease community,” said co-author Sunjya K. Schweig, MD.

You can read the full paper, Botanical Medicines with Activity Against Stationary Phase Bartonella henselae, here.

New chronic fatigue app to diagnose syndrome

Spanish scientists have developed a new app to assess the severity of chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms. Users wear a chest strap fitted with a sensor that measures changes in heart rate (“cardiac hemodynamic variables”) and shares this information via Bluetooth with a phone app. 

Scientists have previously established that patients with low heart-rate variability and chronic fatigue are linked. “Specifically, we had observed that this variability was lower in patients with CFS/ME, especially in the most disabling cases”, explains co-author Dr Jesús Castro. 

The app was tested on 77 patients and exhibited positive results. “We demonstrated that the use of the app would be especially useful for the monitoring of women suffering from this syndrome, which clearly have a lower variability of heart rate compared to healthy women”, says co-author Dr Rosa M Escorihuela, 

You can read the full paper, Analysis of Gender Differences in HRV of Patients with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Using Mobile-Health Technology, here

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