Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Biology of Lyme Disease: An Expert's Perspective

I wanted to share this informative interview (May 2013) with Dr. Alan MacDonald, MD, clinical pathologist and researcher. He explains the microbiology of Lyme (Borrelia spirochetes) disease and the connection he has found in his many years of research to degenerative neurological conditions, including Alzheimer's disease.

He starts by explaining some of his medical background and training and how he became interested in studying and researching spirochetal diseases, first with Syphilis (Treponema pallidum), and then more specifically, Lyme disease (Borreliosis).

Of note is an interesting case study regarding a German physician who had Alzheimer's disease. Dr. MacDonald and his team found high antibody levels of three different strains of Lyme spirochetes in his spinal fluid as well as Lyme spirochetes in his brain.

He also stated he could grow Lyme spirochetes from four Alzheimer's brains in his work with culturing brain tissues through the George Glenner Alzheimer's Brain Bank at the University of California at San Diego.

He discusses biofilms, DNA changes, and mutations of the Borrelia bacteria. During the last ten minutes, he eloquently explains why Lyme testing methods are flawed here in the USA. As many of us with Lyme already know, standard labs only test for one strain of Borrelia when testing for Lyme infection. At the same time, there are about 100 different genotypes of Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb) alone and many other species of Borrelia bacteria as well, i.e., B. afzelli, B. andersonii, B. microti, B. miyamotoi, etc.

Dr. MacDonald is a true pioneer in Lyme research, and his vast knowledge of Lyme disease biology is over-the-top excellent. He's done most of his work at Harvard and in his own basement. He's best known and beloved in the Lyme community for his role in the Lyme documentary, Under Our Skin.

At the filming of this interview, he stated that he now collaborates with Dr. Eva Sapi, Ph.D., in her ongoing Lyme research at the University of New Haven while also continuing his research in Alzheimer's and Lyme Neuroborreliosis. Two great scientific minds for sure!

I think that Dr. MacDonald has laid a solid foundation of research for the role Lyme spirochetes can play in many neurological diseases, including MS and ALS. Instead of calling Lyme "The Great Imitator," perhaps it should be called The True Root of Many Disease Processes more fittingly.

This video is just under thirty minutes. It's clearly worth watching if you have Lyme or someone you love does. I found it very interesting and enlightening. Also, it will prompt you to go directly to YouTube to watch.

Love and blessings,

P.S. If you're interested in reading more about the microbiology of Lyme, Borrelia bacteria, or how it affects the immune system and other cells, consider reading The Complexities of Lyme Disease by Thomas Grier, MS which is also excellent. Click here to read Part 1 or find the whole series listed in my blog archive under March and April 2013.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

iSpot Lyme: New Generation of Testing From NeuroScience, Inc.

NeuroScience, Inc recently anounced the release of a new, and suppossedly more sensitive, Lyme test called iSpot Lyme (TM).

NeuroScience states that iSpot Lyme has a sensitivity of 84% and specificity of 94% for the detection of Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb); making it an excellent complement to the current two-tiered antibody method of testing.

"The iSpot Lyme detects a cellular immune response against Lyme antigens, which appears earlier in the disease process (2 weeks) than the antibody response detected by the traditional Western Blot test (4-6 weeks). More importantly, iSpot Lyme can even detect antigen-specfic T cell response in seronegative patients" (iSpot Lyme: A New Approach to Lyme Disease Testing - The NEI Connection).

If this pans out, perhaps it will be the start of a new direction in better testing methods that will be more accurate and more widely available (being the standard and not the exception). And maybe it will lead to effectively testing for other strains of Borellia as well. That is much needed also. 

I've had good experiences in the past with other types of testing through NeuroScience (Pharmasan Labs). I think they hold a high standard in neurotransmitter testing. Perhaps they'll become a new high standard in accurate Lyme testing too. Let's hope so.

To read more about this new testing method check out iSpot Lyme: A New Approach to Lyme Disease Testing on The NEI Connection blog.

For more detailed information read the White Paper and download the PDF iSpot Lyme (TM): A New Generation of Lyme Disease Testing

When peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from a B. burgdorferi-infected patient are exposed to B. burgdorferi protein antigens (A) B. burgdorferi-specific T cells are activated and secrete small proteins called cytokines (B) T cells that are not specific for B. burgdorferi do not become activated. iSpot Lyme (TM) measures the cytokine IFN-gamma secreted by the patient's T cells. Cytokine proteins (IFN-gamma) are captured near the cells that secreted them and are then detected using a color reagent (C).