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New Lyme disease test could lead to earlier treatment

Scientists have introduced a method to test for Lyme disease that could reduce cases of misdiagnosis and allow patients in Oregon and nationwide to begin treatment weeks earlier than currently possible. The research was developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Existing testing methods often fail to detect the presence of Lyme disease in patients until they begin to show symptoms, which include headache, fever, joint pain, redness and heart palpitations. This is because the tests are designed to find signs of the body's immunological reaction to the bacteria that cause the disease. However, the new test method tracks cell debris left behind by Lyme disease bacteria in an infected person's blood serum. In theory, the proteins in the discarded cell fragments indicate the presence of infection in a patient.

The challenge of the new method is telling the difference between the many types of other bacterial proteins found in human blood serum. The test sorts the proteins by molecular weight and then searches for minute levels of Lyme disease proteins. Early trials have been successful, with Lyme disease detections coming up to three weeks earlier than current methods. If left untreated in patients, Lyme disease can reappear in cycles. The disease is treated with courses of antibiotics.

A doctor's failure to diagnose Lyme disease can lead to delayed treatment and long-term health problems in infected patients. People how have been harmed in this manner may want to meet with a medical malpractice attorney in order to determine the legal remedies that may be available.

Source: Digital Journal, "New, faster test for Lyme disease developed," Tim Sandle, Feb. 16, 2016

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