Labs Develop New Tick-Borne Diseases Tests

Igenex Labs, Palo Alto, CA has announced the development of three new tests, two for Lyme disease and one for tick-borne relapsing fever (TBRF).

According to Igenex, the new Lyme ImmunoBlot IgM & IgG has better specificity compared to the traditional Western Blot, 98% for IgM and 98.7 for IgG, and is 90.9% sensitive with well-defined samples. It has better sensitivity because it is designed to detect antibodies to major B. burgdorferi sensu lato specific antigens from North America and European strains: B. burgdorferi B31, B. burgdorferi 297, B. californiensis, B. mayonii, B. afzelii, B. garinii, B. spielmanii, B. valaisiana.

The Lyme IGXSpot is an Enzyme-Linked ImmunoSpot (ELISPOT) assay that detects human T cells reactive to B. burgdorferi specific antigens in vitro. ELISPOT is a widely used method for detecting and monitoring cellular immune responses to specific antigens. It detects specific T-cell responses soon after B. burgdorferi infection, when antibodies to the organisms are not detectable or late in the disease, when the levels of antibodies are very low, so combined with Lyme ImmunoBlot tests, patient’s full spectrum of immune response to infection & disease stage is available. The Lab also notes it is especially useful to seronegative patients.

The TBRF ImmunoBlot is designed to detect antibodies to specific antigens of tick-borne relapsing fever Borrelia in human serum– antibodies to B. hermsii, B. miyamotoi, B. turicatae and B. coriaceae. Based on in-house studies, these blots detect antibodies to North American, European and Australian strains of TBRF Borrelia in patient serum samples. The specificity of the TBRF ImmunoBlot is 94% and 98% for IgM and IgG respectively, according to the lab.

Coppe Labs, Waukesha, WI has announced the development of commercial tests for Powassan virus, an emerging virus transmitted by the same deer tick that transmits Lyme disease bacteria. A direct PCR test and indirect serologic tests are now available. Doctors now have access to these tests for patients, especially those in known areas for Powassan exposure

This test is important because clinical research has shown that the Powassan virus can be transmitted to humans within 15 minutes of a tick-bite and can be fatal in 10% or more of cases. Those who survive can be left with debilitating neurologic conditions. There are currently no specific treatments for Powassan, palliative care is administered.

More details can be found on the IGeneX and Coppe Labs websites.