Global Lyme Alliance (GLA), the leading nonprofit dedicated to conquering Lyme and other tick-borne diseases through research, education and awareness, today announced it has awarded approximately $1.2 million in research grants to 10 researchers at leading academic and medical institutions across the country. To date GLA has committed more than $10 million to more than 50 research projects.
“Our 2017-18 grantees are truly some of the most talented researchers in the field today,” said Timothy J. Sellati, Ph.D., GLA’s Chief Scientific Officer. “Results from the studies we are funding—which include several ‘firsts’ for GLA—will significantly advance our basic understanding of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases, improve diagnostics, and expand treatment options for physicians, while offering hope to the millions who suffer from Lyme disease.”
For the first time, GLA is funding pediatrics-specific projects that could have a major impact on the long-term health of children and their mothers. One study is being conducted by Lise Nigrovic, M.D., Ph.D., a pediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital and associate professor of pediatrics and emergency medicine at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Nigrovic received a grant award to expand and continue building her existing pediatric Lyme disease biobank to collect well-curated blood and tissue samples from children tested for Lyme.
GLA’s second pediatrics-specific study investigates the role Borrelia burgdorferi, the pathogen that causes Lyme, might play in damaging the fetus or impairing nervous system development, function, and behavior when a pregnant woman contracts Lyme disease. This study is being conducted by Catherine Brissette, Ph.D., associate professor of biomedical sciences at the University of North Dakota.
GLA is also funding a study focused on whether essential oils—aromatic compounds derived from plants—can treat drug resistant and persistent Lyme disease in humans. Intriguing preliminary findings reported by Ying Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, demonstrated that several essential oils had excellent in-vitro activity against B.burgdorferi persisters.
Other important areas of focus among the current grantees include the impact of Borrelia burgdorferi on the immune system, treatment of chronic Lyme disease, the role of individual patient genetics in response to Lyme disease, and Lyme diagnostics.
“With our new grants, Global Lyme Alliance remains at the forefront of discovery and innovation,” said Scott Santarella, GLA’s CEO. “Our investments in Lyme and tick-borne disease research are particularly important today since federal funding for Lyme research is miniscule. This, unfortunately, hamstrings researchers and slows scientific progress.”
Those awarded 2017-18 GLA-funded research grants include:
- Nicole Baumgarth, D.V.M., Ph.D., University of California, Davis, “Defining protective antibody-mediated immunity to Borrelia burgdorferi”;
- Catherine Brissette, Ph.D., University of North Dakota, “Adverse outcomes in gestation as consequences of immune responses to B. Burgdorferi infection”;
- Henry Hampton, Ph.D., Institute for Systems Biology, “A longitudinal systems-level dissection of the immune response during Lyme disease”;
- Kim Lewis, Ph.D., Northeastern University, “Treatment of Lyme disease”;
- Richard Marconi, Ph.D., Virginia Commonwealth University, “Therapeutic vaccine for Lyme disease”;
- Lise Nigrovic, M.D., Boston Children’s Hospital, “A pediatric multi-center Lyme disease research network with bio-sample collection”;
- Mark Soloski, Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University, “T cell immunity in human Lyme borreliosis”;
- Klemen Strle, Ph.D., Harvard Medical School, “Host genetic factors in the pathogenesis of Lyme disease and its post-Lyme syndromes”;
- Edouard Vannier, Ph.D., Tufts University, “The design of an antibody-based therapy for severe babesiosis”;
- Ying Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University, “High activity of selective essential oils against Borrelia persisters”.
The researchers were selected following a rigorous process using guidelines established by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Each proposal was evaluated by GLA’s Scientific Advisory Board and met the same scientific standards that the NIH applies to its own research grant review process. The resulting 2018 grant awards represent projects judged to have exceptional prospects of delivering measurable advances.
Lyme disease is a growing epidemic with more than 329,000 reported new cases each year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, there are presently no accurate diagnostic tests, no standard treatment and no cure. Some 10 to 20% of individuals with Lyme end up with long-term health problems, proven by GLA-funded research.
GLA is now accepting grant proposals for its 2018-19 grant funding cycle. All applications are due by August 1, 2018 midnight EST. Award decisions will be announced in January 2019. For more information, go to GLA.org.