New Understanding of Lyme Disease
Harvard Magazine’s, Jonathan Shaw, 01/02.2024, published “Deciphering Lyme Disease.” Shaw describes the work of Jacob Lemieux, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard University, that began in 2017. The project of whole-genome sequencing of hundreds of samples of Borrelia burgdorferi took nearly 6 years. Findings from this study have illuminated the reasons why people experience such variable severity of illness, and why these variabilities in individuals are also variable by geography.
Lemieux, together with Pardis Sabeti, world renowned geneticist, found that the genetic diversity of B. burgdorferi is much harder to grasp than any other pathogen. The complexity of this bacteria relates to the vast range of symptoms that manifest from Lyme disease infections, many that may persist in some patients years after treatment. They found that the most severe cases of Lyme disease were associated with certain strains of Borrelia, those with a specific surface protein coded by patterns of plasmids.
These findings point to new approaches for diagnosis, treatment, as well as prevention of Lyme disease.
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