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Prevention and diagnosis of Lyme disease

Exploiting bacterial genomics to identify immunogenic antigens could aid the development of prophylactic vaccines against many diseases. A European consortium followed this exact approach for Lyme disease prevention and diagnosis.
Prevention and diagnosis of Lyme disease
Lyme Borreliosis or Lyme disease is transmitted by a tick infected by the bacterium of the genus Borrelia. The disease manifests as a multi-system disorder, affecting various organs including the skin, musculoskeletal system, heart and nervous system. Delayed or inadequate treatment can cause serious symptoms, necessitating the development of early diagnostic methods and a preventive vaccine.

The EU-funded BOVAC project aimed to identify novel markers for early prognosis of Lyme Borreliosis and ultimately develop a prophylactic vaccine. As a first step towards achieving that, project partners performed a serological screening of antigens from Lyme disease patient sera to identify candidate diagnostic markers.

A genome-wide screening approach was followed to predict and identify proteins from Borrelia that can function as markers for diagnosis and as targets for protective immunity against Lyme disease. By annotating the genome of Borrelia afzelii, scientists were able to identify the most common candidate antigens implicated in the pathogenesis of the disease.

The BOVAC project did not only reveal vital information about the mechanisms underlying Lyme disease, but also set the ground for vaccine development which is of great social benefit.

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