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Update on the Tick-borne Illness Diagnostics Incubator

Published by (In)visible International who is supporting six teams in its “Tick-borne Illness Diagnostics Development Incubator,” a yearlong collaborative forum designed to help bring better diagnostics solutions to the market faster. 

One of the new players in this space is a Belgium-based company, R.E.D. Laboratories. 
 
Their novel “Phelix Phage” Borrelia detection method was co-discovered by Jinyu Shan, PhD, University of Leicester; Professor Martha Clokie, University of Leicester; and Dr. Louis Teulières, Phelix R&D. This test can used on blood, urine, biopsies, or ticks to detect the presence of specific phages, spider-like viruses that parasitically prey on targeted Borrelia bacteria. 

The phages are transmitted with Borrelia during a tick bite, and they can only survive if their bacterial hosts are alive. Detecting these specialized phages in blood or urine provides direct evidence of active Borrelia infections in both early- and late-stage patients. And preliminary studies are promising, showing a >90% sensitivity and 100% specificity, a huge improvement over the two-tiered testing used today.

Thus far, the lab has developed diagnostics for the Borrelia sensu lato group (the 18 Borrelia species that cause Lyme borreliosis), the relapsing fever Borrelia group, Borrelia miyamotoi, (a recently discovered, genetically distinct member of the relapsing fever group), and a broad range of rickettsias. They’re also using this approach to develop tests for other tick-borne pathogens.

Tanja Mijatovic, PhD, the Chief Scientific Officer of R.E.D. Laboratories, said, “After more than two years of using the Phelix Phage Borrelia test, we’ve discovered that far more patients (primarily late stage) have tested positive for the relapsing fever group (B. miyamotoi, B. hermsii, etc.) than the Borrelia sensu lato group.”

This raises an interesting scientific question — might patients with persistent Lyme symptoms have active, undetected infections caused by microbes that no one is looking for?

R.E.D. Labs is currently looking for partnerships with health-care facilities and practitioners involved in infectious diseases, to help challenge and validate their tests. Inquiries can be directed to Dr. Mijatovic: tmijatovic@redlabs.be


 

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R.E.D. Laboratories - Blog: Update on the Tick-borne Illness Diagnostics Incubator
Update on the Tick-borne Illness Diagnostics Incubator
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