New research could lead to new ways to diagnose, treat Lyme disease

New research could lead to new ways to diagnose, treat Lyme disease

Researchers at Virginia Tech have found a critical component that causes Lyme arthritis, one of the most painful symptoms of Lyme disease.

They've identified the specific part of a tick that triggers Lyme arthritis that ticks as small as the letter E on a dime could be carrying.

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"It's the missing puzzle piece we think," said Brandon Jutras, part of the research team making the discovery that could completely change the way Lyme disease is treated.

As the bacteria multiplies, researchers found it sheds a cellular component that causes Lyme arthritis, an extremely painful condition, and the most common late-stage symptom of the disease.


"We think that it may be an important molecule to consider moving forward and that if we could prevent the patients from responding or creating this inflammatory response to this molecule or just get rid of the molecule entirely, that these patients will get better faster," Jutras said.

It's good news for an increasingly infected population.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 300,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with Lyme disease every year. But as the problem grows, so now are the solutions.

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The latest finding is likely leading to new ways to diagnose and treat Lyme disease, and that's just the beginning.

"This particular discovery is opening the doors for many other possible avenues of research and that is the most exciting part," Jutras said.

Lyme disease symptoms can include a rash, fatigue, headaches, dizziness or fever.