LDA/Columbia Pre-Conference Video – 2019
Dr. Brian Fallon, Columbia University; Dr. Joanna Lyon, University of Maryland School of Pharmacy; Dr. Adrian Baranchuk, Queen’s University; and Dr. George Chaconas, University of Calgary discuss topics of research to be presented at upcoming LDA/Columbia CME Conference September 21 & 22, 2019.
FDA Clears New Test/2019 LDA Conference/Polly Murray/TBDWG Summary/US House Actions/Ticks Kill Cows
Philip Strandwitz, PhD
CEO and Co-founder, Holobiome, Inc.
Visiting Scholar, Antimicrobial Discovery Center
Department of Biology, Northeastern University
The Gut-Brain-Axis – Potential Therapeutic Targets
Born in Wisconsin but brought to Boston by the allure of biotechnology, Philip is a microbial ecologist with expertise in the human microbiome, bacterial cultivation, and the gut-brain-axis. He received his Bachelor’s in Microbiology from the University of La Crosse – Wisconsin, and his PhD from Northeastern University in Boston, MA, where he focused on cultivating unique bacteria from the human gut microbiota, as well as studying their ability to modulate neurotransmitters. Philip’s work has been published in top journals like Nature Microbiology, and he has presented at numerous scientific and industrial conferences, including those sponsored by the New York Academy of Science and BIO. He is now CEO at Holobiome, a gut-brain-axis microbiome company he co-founded, located in Kendall Square in Cambridge, MA. Here he has assembled and manages a team of leaders in neuroscience, microbiology, and drug development, with the goal to translate microbiome science into interventions to treat diseases of the nervous system, with planned expansion into other markets.
Conference Lecture Summary
TBD Working Group Meeting Summary/Public Comments Now Available – June 4, 2019
The federal Tick-Borne Disease Working Group (TBDWG) held their ninth meeting in D.C. on June 4, 2019 with a focus on developing the next report to be drafted for the HHS Secretary and Congress. The report will include an update on federal tick-borne disease activities and research findings.
Still pending: Archived Webcast, Slide Presentation
FDA Clears New Lyme Test
The Lyme Disease Association announces that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday cleared for marketing four previously cleared tests for the diagnosis of Lyme disease. Called the modified two-tier, enzyme immune assay, (EIA), the new tests are able to be run at the same time or sequentially. The current two-tier testing has an EIA test (ELISA) run which is then followed by a Western Blot (WB).
The FDA reviewed data from clinical studies of the ZEUS ELISA Borrelia VlsE1/pepC10 IgG/IgM Test System, ZEUS ELISA Borrelia burgdorferi IgG/IgM Test System, ZEUS ELISA Borrelia burgdorferi IgM Test System, and the ZEUS ELISA Borrelia burgdorferi IgG Test System. The FDA claims this alternative approach is as accurate as current methods for detecting antibodies for assessing exposure to Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria causing Lyme disease.
The tests were reviewed through FDA’s premarket notification (510(k)) pathway– the device to be marketed is at least as safe and effective to a legally marketed device, i.e., substantially equivalent.
According to LDA President Pat Smith, “It appears the new two-tier system is being offered as an alternative to the existing two-tier. Whether it will prove out to be as accurate as the current system remains to be seen. Since the current two tier system is considered to be about 50% accurate by many, and many treating physicians feel the Western Blot is perhaps the most significant portion of that system, it is hard to say what impact this new system without the WB will have on diagnosis. The fact that the tests can be run concurrently could mean less delay in testing to diagnosis/treatment time for some individuals. However, at this point, we do not know enough about the tests to make any further assessments, although it is not the new technology many have hoped for in a new testing paradigm.”
CFC 2019 Approves LDA as National Charity
The LDA has been designated as a national charity included in the 2019 Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) Charity List. CFC is part of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). Each year, federal employees are provided with lists of approved charities for their workplace giving through the CFC. The LDA has met the requirements and been a part of CFC for 14 years running. LDA’s administrative and fundraising costs were determined to be only 2.5% for 2018, meaning 97.5% went directly to programs.
The LDA’s CFC 2019 identification for donors is #11424, and the Lyme Disease Association, Inc. will appear in the listing of National/International Independent Organizations, which is published in each local campaign charity list. See your federal employer for details. Check the CFC website at: http://www.opm.gov/cfc/ for details about the Combined Federal Campaign.
Thanks to all those volunteers who have helped with our programs nationwide, and a special thanks to those who have been contributing through their federal workplace CFC to the Lyme Disease Association, Inc.
President's BlogPolly Murray “First Among Many” Lyme Advocates
I am sad to hear about the passing of Polly Murray, an artist, and a Mom, who was responsible for realizing something was wrong when she and her family, and many children in her neighborhood, suffered from similar symptoms. Polly’s family and neighbors were either unable to be diagnosed by mainstream medicine or were diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. She understood that such a disease cluster did not really make sense, and she was even told her own symptoms were psychological. With unflagging courage, she took on the responsibility of alerting public health officials to the issue. This action and her tenacity initiated an official public health investigation that led to identifying a new disease, later called Lyme disease.
I met with Polly several times over the years and found her to be a lovely person who was caring, and unassuming. She took what she did in stride, although her tremendous contribution to science and role in unmasking this “new” disease was not always acknowledged by the experts.
She, above many, deserves the gratitude of everyone: the public, public health, the experts, patients, and especially our children. Her actions alerted this country to a tremendous problem which no one else recognized. Who knows how many more years would have elapsed until Lyme disease was discovered. She saved lives and human suffering.
The Lyme Disease Association mourns her passing and sends condolences to her family who we know must be proud of her sense of responsibility, her courage, and her leadership in the area of Lyme disease, as well as her caring as a Mom. May she rest in peace.
Thousands of Asian Longhorned Ticks Infest and Kill 5 Cows in NC
Five cows died in Surry County, North Carolina due to the self-cloning Asian longhorned tick. More than 1000 ticks were found on each cow. These ticks are capable of creating severe infestations on animal hosts. The cause of death was acute anemia, as the cows were drained of blood by the ticks.
Asian longhorned ticks were first reported in the United States in 2017 in New Jersey and have spread to a total of 12 states.
This is a warning to people who have pets or livestock to be vigilant to protect the animals from ticks.
The longhorned tick is already known to transmit several human diseases, including spotted fever rickettsiosis, in its native East Asian countries – China, Japan and Australia. It may be only a matter of time before they become carriers of tick-borne diseases that affect humans.
Update on longicornis coming into the US from MMWR / November 30, 2018 / Vol. 67 / No. 47
Concurrent reexamination of archived historical samples showed that invasion occurred years earlier. Most importantly, ticks collected from a deer in West Virginia in 2010 and a dog in New Jersey in 2013 were retrospectively identified as H. longicornis.
Breaking News! US House Actions on Lyme & TBD: July 9, 1 Passed & 1 Blocked
Congressman Christopher Smith (R-NJ-04) has been pushing for funding and recognition of Lyme and tick-borne diseases over the past 27 years. On July 9, 2019, Mr. Smith testified before the Committee on Rules and introduced two amendments relating to Lyme and tick-borne diseases to the Defense Authorization Bill (National Defense Appropriations Act).
ONE PASSED RULES COMMITTEE
Congressman Smith’s first amendment #321 directs the Inspector General of the Department of Defense to initiate an investigation into the Department’s possible involvement in the bioweaponization of ticks and other insects. The amendment and requested investigation was inspired by information revealed in Lyme survivor Kris Newby’s new book, “Bitten: The Secret History of Lyme disease and Biological Weapons.” This amendment was made in order by the Committee (passed by voice vote) and will be scheduled for a vote later this week, in consideration with the full NDAA legislation.
Update: On July 12 the US House of Representatives voted to pass amendment #321 directing the Inspector General of the Department of Defense to “conduct a review of whether the Department of Defense experimented with ticks and other insects regarding use as a biological weapon between the years of 1950 and 1975 (source rollcall.com).”
Various media throughout the U.S. and in the U.K published news of Amendment #321:
House orders Pentagon to say if it weaponized ticks and released them – rollcall.com
“We need to find out: is there anything in this research that was supposedly done that can help us to find information that is germane to patient health and combating the spread of the disease.” – Pat Smith, President of Lyme Disease Association in CQ Roll All and The Sun (UK)
Pentagon ordered to reveal to Congress if its scientists used diseased TICKS as biological weapons – and if any escaped the lab – thesun.co.uk
Did Pentagon turn ticks into bioweapons that spread Lyme Disease? N.J. congressman wants answers – nj.com
“We know that the government was doing other kinds of experiments during that time,” said Pat Smith, president of the Jackson, N.J.-based group. “Absolutely it needs to be looked at. The public needs to know if this has occurred.” – Pat Smith in nj.com
House calls for investigation into whether Pentagon tried to weaponize ticks – thehill.com
House of Representatives orders Pentagon to investigate whether ticks were once used as biological weapons – cnn.com
House passes amendment ordering Pentagon to review whether U.S. experimented with weaponizing ticks – cbsnews.com
House orders Pentagon to review if it exposed Americans to weaponised ticks – theguardian.com (UK)
Did the US Invent Lyme Disease in the 1960s? The House Aims to Find Out – defenseone.com
Lyme disease as war weapon? Rep. Chris Smith’s push for probe advances after call for Trump to investigate – Asbury Park Press, app.com
Pentagon Ordered to Tell Congress If It Weaponized Ticks And Released Them Into the Public – gizmodo.com
Did the U.S. Invent Lyme Disease in the 1960s? The House Aims to Find Out – govexec.com
Did the Pentagon weaponize ticks with Lyme disease? Congress wants to know – deseretnews.com
Lawmakers pass measure to investigate if ticks were used as bioweapons – daytondailynews.com
Kris Newby responds to Telford’s criticism of BITTEN – lymedisease.org
The ‘Swiss Agent’: Long-forgotten research unearths new mystery about Lyme disease –https://www.statnews.com/2016/10/12/swiss-agent-lyme-disease-mystery
STAT, an internet publication and affiliate of the Boston Globe, published an article on October 12, 2016, by Charles Piller, which focused on Swiss-born scientist, Willy Burgdorfer, who discovered the Lyme pathogen/spirochete (Borrelia burgdorferi) in 1981. STAT obtained documents of Burgdorfer’s after his death in 2014, that indicated a different pathogen was involved in Lyme disease – Ricksettia helvetica, aka the Swiss Agent, which he discovered in Switzerland in 1978. This pathogen was infecting people in Connecticut and Long Island in the late 1970s. “And scientists who worked with Burgdorfer, and reviewed key portions of the documents at STAT’s request, said the bacteria might still be sickening an unknown number of Americans today.” Burgdorfer’s documents also suggest regret that he never followed up on the Swiss Agent.
CONGRESSMAN SMITH’S SECOND AMENDMENT WAS BLOCKED
Amendment #322 directs the Secretary of Defense to work with the Secretary of Health and Human Services to develop a whole-of-government strategy on Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases infecting members of the Armed Forces and civilians. This second amendment was blocked by Democrats on the Committee in a party-line vote, and will not move to the House floor for a vote at this time. See Motion & votes from Rules Record Vote #151
See votes below. If your legislator blocked, contact him/her and tell them unacceptable! We need a national strategy to fight Lyme.
Yes to pass
Tom Cole (R-4-OK) Ranking Member
Rob Woodall (R-7-GA)
Michael C. Burgess (R-26-TX)
Debbie Lesko (R-8-AZ)
Jim McGovern (D-2-MA) Chair
Norma Torres (D-35-CA)
Ed Perlmutter (D-7-CO)
Jamie Raskin (D-8_MD)
Mary Gay Scanlon (D-5-PA)
Joseph Morelle (D-25-NY)
Donna Shalala (D-27-FL)
Mark DeSaulnier (D-11-CA)
June Actions: 2 Smith Amendments Pass House of Representatives, 1 Delgato Passes
Christopher H. Smith’s (R-NJ-04) amendment, which was approved (Division C of H.R. 2740), adds $2 million to the DOD’s Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP) for Tick-Borne Disease Research. The program is currently funded at $5 million.
Mr. Smith’s other amendment, adopted on June 12th, will increase funding for Lyme disease research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for FY 2020. He had testified in March 2019 before the House panel that oversees the CDC, and pushed for an increase from the base $11 million to $15 million at the CDC for Lyme. After his testimony, the committee boosted the funding to $13 million. Click here for Chris Smith Press Release
Another amendment which then passed was introduced by Antonio Delgado (D-NY-19). It provided $1million to CDC for FY 2020— bringing CDC total to $14 million. Click here for Antonio Delgado Press Release