New Lyme screen researched locally

July 28, 2017 11:18 AM

DELMAR - Julie Ward has been living with Lyme Disease for the past 25 years.  But she only began treatment three years ago. 

"I feel like I'm 80 years old in a 55-year-old's body," explains Ward just after donating six vials of her blood for research at the Stram Center for Integrative Medicine.

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Doctors tested Ward for Lyme several times but the results all came back negative.  That's because, according to some researchers, the current Western Blot Lyme test is wrong 35-50 percent of the time.

"The tests we have are 40-year-old tests that detect the immune system's response to a bacteria that suppresses the immune system," explains Holly Ahern a Microbiologist at SUNY Adirondack.

For the past two years, Ahern and other scientists have been working to develop what they believe will be a more accurate and reliable Lyme test.  It's called Lyme Seek and with the help of blood samples from Ward and about 400 others, it could be out of the lab and in doctors' offices next year.

"It takes people, citizens, to do what they have to do.  This is citizen science at its best," adds Ahern.

While there is much disagreement in the medical community about the disease, most maintain it is imperative to treat the disease as soon as possible.  Symptoms and co-infections increase as Lyme progresses, often becoming debilitating, so timely and appropriate treatment are crucial if patients want to live a normal life.

"As I heal and feel stronger, I want to be part of advocacy.  But I'm not well enough so this is something I could do," adds Ward.

If you want to donate blood for this research, both Lyme patients and healthy donors are needed and there are two more opportunities.  The first is on 9/6 in Hyde Park and the third is in October at SUNY Adirondack.   To sign up or for more information, contact Focus on Lyme or Lyme Action Network.


Abigail Bleck

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