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June Specimen Spotlight: Improving Early Detection of Lyme Disease

June 8, 2017

IgM Antibody

Lyme disease, a tick-borne infection diagnosed in roughly 330,000 Americans every year, becomes a heightened concern in June and July, especially for people in the Northeast and upper Midwest, where the disease is concentrated. Early diagnosis and treatment with antibiotics, however, usually means a rapid and complete recovery.

Our June Specimen Spotlight features a set of orders from a leading diagnostic company working to refine its Lyme disease enzyme-linked immunoassay. The test detects IgM antibodies to the Lyme bacteria (Borrelia burgdorferi) which show up in the early stages (first few weeks) of infection. This company’s test also detects other antibodies associated with Lyme disease, known as IgG and IgA, which tend to show up later after exposure. Detecting IgM, then, is great for early detection and intervening fast, but a major challenge with IgM detection has been the occurrence of false positives.

Our customer is confident that its approach to IgM detection is best in its class and highly sensitive. The company recently came to iSpecimen for samples to help validate the efficacy. We are filling orders for 100 serum samples that have tested positive for IgM, 400 healthy normal serum samples (controls) from a wide distribution of the country, and 100 serum samples (tested for Lyme, either positive and negative) in and around the Lyme-ravaged state of Connecticut. We’ll be gathering specimens from a vast range of supplier partners, ensuring the samples are annotated with requested data such as the ages and genders of the patients.

Lyme disease has remained one of the most elusive infectious diseases because of its variable presentation of symptoms, severity, and timing. Sometimes called “the great imitator,” Lyme disease can produce a wide range of symptoms, some of which resemble other diseases, depending on the stage of infection. Hallmark symptoms include fever, rash, facial paralysis, and arthritis. Common risk factors include spending time in wooded or grassy areas, having exposed skin and not removing ticks promptly or properly.

Enjoy your summer, but beware of ticks. And know that we are supporting the researchers who are aggressively tackling the disease.