WCHN Lyme Disease Biobank Expands Testing and Research

Western Connecticut Health Network
DANBURY, Connecticut – April 27, 2017 - The Western Connecticut Health Network (WCHN) Lyme disease biobank, formerly known as the Lyme Disease Registry, is pleased to announce it is expanding its scope, in an effort to be at the forefront of Lyme disease research. Where the Lyme disease biobank has been a unique source of blood samples of patients with Lyme disease, it will now also be a source of urine samples.

Recently, researchers have used novel technologies to develop a promising new urine-based Lyme test that may enable diagnosis of the disease in the early stages. If successful, this test could have a significant impact on early diagnosis and treatment, and perhaps on avoiding persistent symptoms of the disease. Urine samples from the WCHN Lyme disease biobank will play a key role in confirming whether these exciting new technologies could, in fact, be taken to the next level – from bench to bedside.

Every year, an estimated 300,000 people in the United States—including over 22,000 Connecticut residents—are diagnosed with Lyme disease, a potentially devastating disease transmitted by deer ticks. Although flu-like symptoms and bull’s-eye pattern rash are common symptoms, if not treated early, patients may develop move severe symptoms including joint pain, neurological problems, and heart problems.

Part of the problem is that there are limitations to current testing methods, which look at the immune system’s response to the disease rather than directly looking at the presence of the disease in the body. In addition to the urine-based test developed elsewhere, researchers at Western Connecticut Health Network are developing a blood-based test which looks for the DNA of Lyme disease-causing bacteria. This could also allow for earlier detection of the disease.

The WCHN Lyme disease biobank was established in 2010 and is the only known hospital-based Lyme disease biobank in the nation. This comprehensive database of patients with Lyme disease serves as the basis for multidisciplinary research leading to a better understanding of a) the course of the disease and how people are affected by it b) causes of persistent symptoms, and c) improved Lyme disease diagnosis and treatment.

With philanthropic support from Union Savings Bank, the WCHN Lyme disease biobank staff also is involved in ongoing efforts to educate the community about Lyme disease prevention and early detection in collaboration with the BLAST tick-borne disease prevention program and Dr. Neeta Connally’s tick-borne disease prevention laboratory at Western Connecticut State University.

The Principal Investigator for the Lyme disease biobank is Joann Petrini, Ph.D. For more information about participation in, collaboration with, or supporting the Lyme disease biobank, please call 203-739-8383 or e-mail lyme.registry@wchn.org.