Lyme Disease Research Now Has Home at Johns Hopkins
In a large step for research on Lyme, the tick-borne disease that costs the U.S. economy up to $1.3 billion per year in treatment costs alone, the Johns Hopkins Lyme Disease Clinical Research Center recently opened in Baltimore, as Johns Hopkins states here.
The center is the first home base for Lyme research at a major U.S. medical research center, although a center also exists at Columbia University, the Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases Research Center.
The disease was first discovered in Lyme, Connecticut, 40 years ago. It now affects more than 300,000 people per year, and is the sixth most common reportable infectious disease in the U.S.
The new center at Johns Hopkins is supported by a major gift from the Lyme Disease Research Foundation, and plans an ambitious research program targeting the disease.
"If you live anywhere from Maine to Virginia, it's almost impossible for Lyme disease not to affect someone you know, someone in your family or yourself," says center founder and director John Aucott, a Johns Hopkins internist.
Aucott is director of the new clinical research center, housed at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center--and has received an initial grant to lead the first prospective controlled study in the U.S. to examine the impact of Lyme disease on patients' immune systems and their long-term health. Known as SLICE (Study of Lyme Disease Immunology and Clinical Events), the study aims to understand why some patients develop post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome lasting months or years, while others do not.
The center will also include repositories of blood and tissue samples from patients with Lyme disease, provided by the Lyme Disease Research Foundation. With these, researchers will have opportunities to collaborate in the search for disease biomarkers that could lead to improved diagnostics and treatment.
The new center will act as a hub for exploration of the disease.