Genetic Sequencing Helps Diagnose Acute Lyme Disease

Genetic sequencing of peripheral blood mononuclear cells is a new tool that may help diagnose acute Lyme disease. It is an emerging technique that uses next-generation sequencing of genes to examine the transcriptome of peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Patients with acute Lyme disease may exhibit upregulation of genes that are normally downregulated. These genes can be used to detect whether a patient has the disease or not.

Using genetic sequencing of patients may help doctors identify the exact strain of Borrelia burgdorferi that causes acute Lyme disease. This bacterium is transmitted to humans through the bites of ticks. Around 1975, Lyme disease first became known as an epidemic when cases of juvenile arthritis began being reported in large numbers. Symptoms initially included skin rashes and flu-like symptoms, which eventually progressed to more severe forms of arthritis and heart, brain, and nerve problems. Until now, serological tests have been difficult to detect Lyme disease; however, DNA tests have become a valuable tool in the fight against the disease.

Genetic sequencing of acute Lyme disease has two major benefits. First, it identifies the pathogen from patient samples and assesses the immune response of the patient. Second, it helps identify the response to treatment. These two benefits are important because a proper diagnosis will result in an effective treatment.

The research was partially supported by the Cohen Lyme & Tickborne Disease Initiative and NIH grants U54HL127624. Researchers are now able to detect the presence of a new species of bacteria and confirm the diagnosis. This discovery is a major breakthrough for diagnosing and treating patients with acute Lyme disease.

Genetic sequencing of patients’ white blood cells can help determine whether a person is infected with Lyme disease. The research suggests that this could increase the incidence of infection by as much as 10 times. Genetic sequencing of patients’ white blood cells can also help doctors determine the presence of a specific strain of the disease.

Another benefit of genetic sequencing of acute Lyme disease is that it can detect the presence of pathogens in samples from healthy people as well as individuals with the disease. This method is more sensitive than other tests. The new test can detect one bacterial cell in 0.3 mL of blood. This is important because patients with Lyme disease usually have anywhere from one to 100 bacterial cells in their blood.

The genes that are expressed in Lyme disease are often associated with an inflammatory response. Researchers can also use gene expression profiles to help identify patients. The gene panel consists of 31 genes that can help differentiate patients with early Lyme disease from controls. The sensitivity of this test is about 53%.

Although serological tests for acute Lyme disease are currently the only laboratory tests cleared by the FDA and recommended by the CDC, they are not always accurate. Serological tests are subject to cross-reacting with tests for other infectious diseases and may be negative in some patients. In addition, antibodies may not be produced early enough or in sufficient quantities, which can complicate the diagnosis.

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