The Bay Area Lyme Foundation has awarded more than $1 million to the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) for the development of a Lyme Clinical Trials Center.

This new center will become the first West Coast site of the Lyme Clinical Trials Network.

The Network aims to address the need for high quality, innovative clinical trials to develop evidence-based treatments for patients with persistent Lyme symptoms following initial antibiotic treatment.

This population has grown to more than two million Americans and continues to increase.

“The founding of the UCSF Lyme Clinical Trials Center provides a unique opportunity for Lyme patients to participate in the next generation of therapeutic trials to combat this devastating disease,” said Charles Chiu, MD, PhD, of the University of California San Francisco, who will lead the new center.

“Very few clinical trials have been initiated to investigate therapeutic solutions to address persistent symptoms of Lyme disease, and we hope to change this.”

UCSF will join the Lyme Clinical Trials Network led by Columbia University, which includes Children’s National Hospital (part of the National Institutes of Health), and Johns Hopkins University. This important effort is funded by the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation.

Seeking to accelerate new treatments

“Bringing together these leading institutions from both coasts will enable collaboration that could accelerate the development of new treatments for patients with persistent Lyme disease, who currently have few options,” said Linda Giampa, executive director of the Bay Area Lyme Foundation.

“Despite California having a great variety of tick-borne pathogens and having cases of Lyme as far back as the 1970s, patients who acquire these diseases in California have been underrepresented in research. We’re excited to have a unified network that can take into account the diversity of bacteria across geographies as these teams work together to tackle the lack of effective treatments for Lyme.”

Clinical symptoms may vary by region due to differences in tick-borne bacterial species and strains, making timely diagnosis and treatment extremely difficult. The creation of the UCSF Lyme Clinical Trials Center provides research and clinical scaffolding to help address these regional differences, with the hope of making treatment more effective, particularly for persistent disease.

“The Lyme Clinical Trials Network was created to help bring treatments and hope to Lyme disease patients and their families,” said Alexandra Cohen, president of the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation. “We look forward to the continued growth of the Network and are excited to have UCSF join as the first West Coast site.”

Dr. Chiu will be overseeing the UCSF Lyme Clinical Trials Center, and its protocol development and grant writing. His team will be evaluating and treating patients for case registry and pilot studies, and publishing in conjunction with other Lyme Clinical Trials Network sites.

About Lyme disease

The most common vector-borne infectious disease in the US, Lyme disease is a potentially disabling infection caused by bacteria transmitted through the bite of an infected tick to people and pets, and/or potentially passed from a pregnant mother to her unborn baby. If caught early, most cases of Lyme disease can be effectively treated, but it is commonly misdiagnosed due to lack of awareness and inaccurate diagnostic tests. There are more than 500,000 new cases of Lyme disease each year, according to statistics released in 2018 by the CDC. As a result of the difficulty in diagnosing and treating Lyme disease, up to two million Americans may be suffering from the impact of its debilitating long-term symptoms and complications, according to Bay Area Lyme Foundation estimates.

SOURCE OF PRESS RELEASE: Bay Area Lyme Foundation