Diagnosing many tick-borne diseases with just one blood test?
Press release from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health:
A new blood test called the Tick-Borne Disease Serochip (TBD Serochip) promises to revolutionize the diagnosis of tick-borne disease by offering a single test to identify and distinguish between Borrelia burgdorferi, the pathogen responsible for Lyme disease, and seven other tick-borne pathogens.
Led by scientists at the Center for Infection and Immunity (CII) at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, the research team report details on the new test in the journal Nature: Scientific Reports.
The researchers — who also include scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Roche Sequencing Solutions, Farmingdale State College, and Stony Brook University — sought to improve on existing tests for tick-borne diseases (TBDs), which have limited diagnostic accuracy and cannot test for more than one infection simultaneously.
Currently, diagnosis of Lyme disease, the most common TBD, requires two separate tests. This cumbersome approach also relies on subjective criteria for the interpretation of results, and accurately identifies fewer than 40 percent of patients with early disease and results in false positives in 28 percent of the time.
The accuracy of the method used to diagnose TBDs Babesia, Anaplasma, Ehrlichia, and Rickettsia varies widely among testing laboratories. And for other tick-borne agents, specific blood tests are not yet available, or in the case of the potentially deadly Powassan virus or Heartland virus, are only performed in specialized laboratories.
“The number of Americans diagnosed with tick-borne disease is steadily increasing as tick populations have expanded geographically,” says Rafal Tokarz, PhD.
“Each year, approximately 3 million clinical specimens are tested for TBDs in the U.S. Nonetheless, the true incidence of TBDs is likely greatly underestimated, as patients with presumed TBDs are rarely tested for the full range of tick-borne agents, and only a fraction of positive cases are properly reported,” adds Nischay Mishra, PhD.
Co-lead authors Tokarz and Mishra are associate research scientists in the Center for Infection and Immunity.
The TBD Serochip can simultaneously test for the presence of antibodies in blood to more than 170,000 individual protein fragments. Version 1.0 can identify exposure to eight tick-borne pathogens present in the U.S., including Anaplasma phagocytophilum (agent of human granulocytic anaplasmosis), Babesia microti (babesiosis), Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme disease), Borrelia miyamotoi, Ehrlichia chaffeensis (human monocytic ehrlichiosis), Rickettsia rickettsii (Rocky Mountain spotted fever), Heartland virus and Powassan virus.
The researchers also included Long Island tick rhabdovirus, a novel virus they recently discovered in Amblyomma americanum ticks. As new tick-borne infectious agents are discovered, the TBD-Serochip will be modified to target them — a process the researchers say can be done in less than four weeks.
The TBD Serochip is also able to identify whether an individual is infected with more than one tick-borne pathogen. Individual ticks are frequently infected with more than one agent; Ixodes scapularis ticks alone can transmit at least five human pathogens. Evidence of exposure to other tick-borne pathogens in patients with Lyme disease has been well documented. In the new paper, the researchers report finding antibodies to another agent in 26 percent of blood specimens from patients with TBD.
In addition to its utility as a diagnostic platform, the TBD Serochip also provides a powerful research tool for studies of TBDs. The technology can be employed to discriminate individual antibody responses in patients with TBD and thus examine the interplay of TBD agents on disease manifestation and progression. It can also be used to assess the impact of genetic diversity of tick-borne pathogens on the host immune response.
“Diagnosing tick-borne illness is a difficult journey for patients, delaying effecting treatment,” says senior author W. Ian Lipkin, MD, director of CII and John Snow Professor of Epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. “The TBD Serochip promises to make diagnosis far easier, offering a single, accurate test for eight different TBDs. Early detection of infection enables rapid and appropriate treatment.”
Note from editor: The press release does not state when this test will be available to the general public.
- February 16, 2018 at 5:36 pm
I don’t trust blood tests for Lyme or co-infections, unless they come back positive. Lyme never did show up in my blood tests. I was first diagnosed with a PCR urine test. Then after losing my treatment, and losing a couple of LLMDs, I was made fun of by many conventional doctors. So I insisted on tissue tests, and had to figure out by myself how to get them. The pathogens showed up like crazy, 16 of them, and that is because that is all that was tested for. All the common Lyme and co-infection pathogens. Bb, Babesia, Erlichia, Bartonella, anaplasma and more. More than one species for each genus. All the Ops surface possabilities for Bb too. Also many other pathogens. My thought is after Bb suppresses the immune system long enough, then it is easy for other pathogens to get a foothold and thrive. All the tissue tests are ALREADY available.
- February 17, 2018 at 3:14 pm
Can you provide more info on the tissue test. I also paid an LLMD for PCR and DNA test and when it came back positive for a list of diseases I then had to try and find an MD who took my insurance to treat….that was another issue.
- February 17, 2018 at 3:40 pm
where can one find these “tissue tests” and what samples are submitted? I have been diagnosed with Bartonella from Galaxy lab blood tests, but I am interested in additional testing you describe.
- March 8, 2018 at 7:10 am
Igenix labs in PaloAlta Ca. Will talk you through specimen collection and send collection kit
- March 9, 2018 at 9:30 am
I have done Igenex – they aren’t always accurate – but did show IGg, and Igm for me – not accurate in my kids though – and pricey of course – but it was just blodd samples – is this tissue testing something new at Igenex? and Medicare covers igenex – my friend didn’t have to pay out of pocket as regular insurance doesn’t cover.
- February 17, 2018 at 10:00 am
The sooner the better! Save lives!
- February 17, 2018 at 3:16 pm
I don’t understand why they’re not also including other known specia of Borrelia, like Afzelli and Garinii. I was bitten in Europe, and will never know if I am positive for Lyme because there are no tests for European species in North America, apart from the c6 Elisa. If they’re creating such a thorough test, it seems like a real oversight to leave out other known causative agents.
- February 18, 2018 at 11:05 am
Gloria: I was bitten in The Black Forest in Germany…treatment was delayed when I returned to the US. Many years later I had chronic symptoms and found an LMD who treated me with iv antibiotics and I felt I was cured. The original infection was 30 years ago. Now I am having a few new symptoms: short-term memory for one and wonder if I still harbor the spirochetes somewhere. I had both knees replaced 17 years ago. My question is about how you researched the lack of testing for European strains. I never had a positive test here in the US. I
- February 17, 2018 at 4:26 pm
How about even when area residents with any history of Lyme could participate in a study of the test?
- February 17, 2018 at 5:26 pm
I was excited until I read it was yet another antibody serum test that tests for one strain of Borrelia (among other things of course). When are the scientists going to develop a test using the latest science? This test already seems outdated and I’m afraid it will just have the same pitfalls as existing antibody testing. Plus, it adds to the confusing litany of tests already out there. Please, somebody tell me I’m wrong about this.
- February 18, 2018 at 4:47 am
2014 I found 2 ticks,2 bull’s eyes. I lose use of legs and harm. Got them back. I was a healthy women. Know I leave in pain, depression, fatigue,Neve damage. I have been told it is not Lyme. I am glad to see people who believes us.
- February 22, 2018 at 5:50 pm
2005 was the year I was bitten x2. I only had one target..the first MD told me I had the flu. Tried to assure him this,was not the flu. A couple of weeks later I saw another MD this time i could not walk and there was a huge target on the back of my right leg. All this took place in Catskill NY
I’ve been in Greenville SC since 2006, I’ve been bitten here twice. Test have always been positive and I still need further testing for the viruses.
I am not able uo mention names BUT I can assure you as a nurse I’ve been black balled by many in the medical profession who took an oath to do no harm…with Lyme mist decide to do nothing…
- February 18, 2018 at 1:33 pm
I was bitten by a tick six months ago and have been very ill since. I had all the symptoms….rash, fever, fatigue, painful joints, memory loss and dizziness. They did blood test twice but nothing showed up. I have been taking Doxycycline on and off for six months. I was in bed for three months but able to do limited activities now. Fatigue and memory loss are biggest problems now. It is very discouraging as I have been to four different doctors. Recently I resorted to alternative medicine and acupuncture. I pray this helps. I have always been very active and healthy. Any other suggestions?
- February 18, 2018 at 5:33 pm
what happened to LymeSeq ?
- February 18, 2018 at 7:34 pm
Dr. Richard Horowitz (Facebook, 2/17/18 at 11:40am):
“There is a need to accurately identify at early stages of illness not only Lyme disease, but multiple associated co-infections. The Tick-Borne Disease Serochip may help to improve diagnostic accuracy for certain tick-borne diseases, but because it is based on antibody production, it may not always pick up Lyme at an early stage, nor other borrelia species from the sensu lato group, nor other Babesia species, Ehrlichia species, or rickettsial species. It also is not testing for Bartonella, which are frequently finding as a co-infection in our sickest patients, or Tularemia, which we occasionally find co-infecting our patients. The ability however to raise awareness among health care professionals regarding the existence of co-infections, is an important first step.”
- February 18, 2018 at 11:44 pm
Cant wait for Australia to take lyme disease seriously. Cant even be tested for it unless you have an extremely good reason & a doctor believes you. 🙁
- February 20, 2018 at 9:00 am
The problem for me is other than the initial diagnosis, I can’t afford further testing or treatment, I am positive for Lyme disease and several Borrellia bands, but everything stops here for me.I am disabled and I only have Medicare. Most Lyme specialist don’t not honor Medicare / insurance. This is unacceptable and inhumane. To allow people to suffer is crucial, I have neuro lyme and not being able to get the proper treatment, just adds more complications, anxiety, and stress on our already ill bodies.
- February 20, 2018 at 4:02 pm
as a person who had lyme undiagnosed with bartonella forEVER, i can tell you now after 30+ years i am now ok.. of course i did see some really great LLDs.. what i would at least record you look into is cinnamin oil highly dittoed with olive oil.. there is much research about this now. the molecule of this oil is small enough to cross blood brain barrier.
- March 9, 2018 at 9:28 am
Actually my friend who is on Medicare gets Igenex testing – expensive and better than most covered thru Medicare!!
- March 5, 2018 at 1:24 pm
How can you get this test? Or even a 2nd test after the first was positive to see if the 14 days of doxycycline worked? My symptoms are horrible and progressing! There are no doctors here who will take me seriously. The subject is changed when I mention that I was VERY healthy prior to getting bitten! The only treatments and doctors that may help are very far from me and do not accept insurance. I have children and for NOW I have a job. Is there ANY help here? I NEVER got a call from the health dept. I called the CDC and the health dept asking if it was reported and they could not help and did not seem to care. Accurate data depends on reporting. People are being told they cannot possibly have Lyme of certain tick borne illnesses because “it is not in that state”. Ticks observe state boundaries now?
- March 9, 2018 at 10:02 am
I would love to fine a doctor that can help. Someone doing research that could use me.To help with research.
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