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Protein that protects against Lyme Disease

Yale scientists have discovered a protein that helps protect hosts from infection with the tick-borne spirochaete that causes Lyme Disease.

Yale scientists have discovered a protein that helps protect hosts from infection with the tick-borne spirochaete that causes Lyme Disease.

The finding may help diagnose and treat the infection, they report.

Lyme Disease is endemic in many parts of the UK – particularly in woodland or heath-land areas – and is transmitted by ticks infected with the spirochaete Borrelia burgdorferi

The Yale team expressed more than 1000 human genes in yeast and analysed their interactions with 36 samples of B. burgdorferi

The course of the disease varies among individuals, with the majority experiencing mild symptoms easily treated by antibiotics. However, in some cases of untreated Lyme the infection can spread to the heart, joints, nervous system, and other organs.

For the study, the Yale team expressed more than 1000 human genes in yeast and analysed their interactions with 36 samples of B. burgdorferi. They found that one protein, Peptidoglycan Recognition Protein 1 (PGLYRP1), acts like an early warning signal to the immune system when exposed to the bacteria. When exposed to the Lyme spirochaete, mice lacking PGLYRP1 had much higher levels of B. burgdorferi than mice with the protein and showed signs of immune system dysfunction, the researchers report. 

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