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Gene Set Could Identify Patients With Post-Treatment Lyme Disease

Researchers from Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Johns Hopkins University have identified a set of genes whose expression patterns could indicate long-term Lyme disease. About 30,000 cases of Lyme disease, which is a tickborne illness, are reported each year to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and 10 percent to 20 percent of affected people develop long-term symptoms. In their new study appearing in Cell Reports Medicine, the researchers collected blood samples from more than 150 people with post-treatment Lyme disease (PTLD) for RNA-seq analysis. When they compared the gene expression profiles of the PTLD individuals to those from 72 individuals with acute Lyme disease and 44 uninfected individuals, the researchers uncovered differences in gene expression between the groups. Using machine learning, they homed in on a set of 35 genes that could be used as a classifier for PTLD. "We wanted to understand whether there is a specific immune response that can be detected in the blood of patients with long-term Lyme disease to develop better diagnostics for this debilitating disease. There still remains a critical unmet need, as this disease so often goes undiagnosed or misdiagnosed," senior author Avi Ma'ayan from Mount Sinai says in a statement.