Lyme disease is an illness most often caused by tick bites, in which humans are infected with borrelia bacteria and may suffer from symptoms such as fatigue, headache, fever, and a skin rash known as erythema migrans.
Additionally, if the disease is left untreated, the bacterial infection can become severe– spreading to the joints, nervous system, and heart.
This is particularly alarming since, according to the CDC, only thirty thousand cases of Lyme disease are reported each year.
However, the true number of cases is believed to be substantially higher, the vast majority of which go undiagnosed– with an estimated four hundred and seventy-six thousand people contracting Lyme disease yearly.
So, researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, located in New York City, recently conducted a study on genes– which they believed could be used as biomarkers to help diagnose patients with the difficult-to-catch and hard-to-treat illness.
“We wanted to understand whether there is a specific immune response that can be detected in the blood of patients with long-term Lyme disease to develop better diagnostics for this debilitating disease,” said Avi Ma’ayan, the study’s senior author.
The team first conducted RNA sequencing using blood samples collected from one hundred and fifty-two patients who reported symptoms of Lyme disease post-treatment in order to measure the patients’ immune responses.
Then, the researchers compared their findings against RNA sequencing results from seventy-two patients with acute Lyme disease, as well as forty-four patients who were uninfected and served as a control group.
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