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Genes identified to potentially diagnose Lyme disease

Researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York have identified 35 genes that are particularly highly expressed in people with long-term Lyme disease.

These genes could potentially be used as biomarkers to diagnose patients with the condition, which is otherwise difficult to diagnose and treat.

The study is the first to use transcriptomics as a blood test to measure RNA levels in patients with long-term Lyme disease – a tick-borne illness that is not well understood.

“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. There still remains a critical unmet need, as this disease so often goes undiagnosed or misdiagnosed,” said Avi Ma’ayan, senior author of the paper.

As part of the study, RNA sequencing was conducted using blood samples from 152 patients with symptoms of post-treatment Lyme disease to measure their immune response. Combined with RNA sequencing data from 72 patients with acute Lyme disease and 44 uninfected controls, the investigators observed differences in gene expression and found that most of the post-treatment Lyme disease patients had a distinctive inflammatory signature compared with the acute Lyme disease group.

By analysing the differentially expressed genes in this study, along with genes that are differentially expressed due to other infections from other published studies, the researchers identified a subset of genes that were highly expressed, which have not been previously established for this Lyme-associated inflammatory response.

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Image credit | Science-Photo-LIbrary

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