New Research Concepts for Lyme Disease Emerge from Lyme Innovation Hackathon, #HackLyme

BOSTON, Oct. 31, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Motivating additional scientific experts to join the fight against Lyme disease, Bay Area Lyme Foundation, in collaboration with the Spaulding Rehabilitation Network's Dean Center for Tick-Borne Illness, Harvard Medical School Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, MIT Hacking Medicine, and the Veterans Affairs Center for Innovation, hosted Lyme Innovation, the second annual Hackathon for Lyme disease. Scientists, clinicians, engineers, and investors from across the US, including Southern and West Coast states, participated in this event. The goal is to make Lyme easy to diagnose and simple to cure, as 329,000 people are infected each year with this potentially devastating, and sometimes fatal, disease.

"Bringing new ideas and research expertise into Lyme disease research is critical to solving the diagnostic and therapeutic challenges facing patients and doctors," said Wendy Adams, Research Grant Director, Bay Area Lyme Foundation, who provided an overview of the challenges of Lyme disease and mentored the teams competing at the event. "We are excited to involve a broader set of skills and researchers to address the challenges of Lyme disease."

The five winning teams, which each received $5,000 to kickstart their projects, consisted of three teams seeking novel diagnostics and two investigating potential treatment options. For the diagnostic projects, one team plans to explore the use of CRISPR for tick-borne disease diagnosis, another aims to develop a direct detection diagnostic through gold tagging technology, and a third team seeks to employ mass spectrometry and nanoparticles. The treatment-focused teams presented preliminary plans for clinical trial development for therapeutic regimens that may offer hope for patients experiencing post-treatment Lyme disease: hyperbaric oxygen treatment and stem cell transplants coupled with intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG).

"At Spaulding Rehab, patients come to us seeking help when their Lyme disease has progressed to the point that they are unable to walk, or have other challenging complications. Some patients we see can no longer complete a thought due to the damage caused by the bacteria and the post-infectious inflammation and autoimmunity to their organs." Nevena Zubcevik, DO, MSPT, Clinical Co-Director of the Dean Center for Tick Borne Illness, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital/Harvard Medical School Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, who was among the event organizers and presented about the challenges of Lyme on patients. "By establishing a forum for scientific collaboration and highlighting the need for a focus on finding solutions for Lyme disease, we hope that one day we can solve this challenge, and allow patients to live better lives."

Other experts presented on the challenges of diagnosing and treating Lyme disease, including:

    --  Christine Green, MD, Chief Physician, Green Oaks Medical Center, and
        Chair, ILADS Medical Education Committee
    --  Kristen Honey, PhD, PMP, Senior Policy Analyst, Office of the Federal
        Chief Information Officer, White House Office of Management and Budget
    --  Linden Hu, MD, Professor of Molecular Biology & Microbiology, Tufts
    --  Jacob Lemieux, MD, DPhil, Infectious Disease Fellow, Massachusetts
        General Hospital
    --  Alessandra Luchini, PhD, Associate Professor, George Mason University

Two teams who competed in last year's event offered an update on their progress. Yuko Nakajima, PhD, postdoctoral fellow, Brandeis University shared details about how she is leveraging genetic techniques being used to fight cancer in an effort to identify a viable treatment for Lyme disease. Based on the idea Dr. Nakajima explored at Lyme Innovation 2016, she obtained additional grants from Bay Area Lyme Foundation, National Institutes of Health and Brandeis University. Additionally, Kerry Lang, mental health counselor, Dean Center for Tick-Borne Illness, whose team last year devised a patient-powered platform to combat isolation, depression and suicidal feelings among Lyme patients, shared that the team is now seeking to address additional mental health concerns related to Lyme disease.

More information is available at Follow Lyme Innovation on Twitter @lymeinnovation.

About Lyme disease
One of the fastest growing vector-borne infectious diseases in the United States, Lyme disease is a potentially serious infection caused by bacteria transmitted through the bite of an infected tick to people and pets. If caught early, most cases of Lyme disease can be effectively treated, but it is commonly misdiagnosed due to lack of awareness and unreliable diagnostic tests. There are approximately 329,000 new cases of Lyme disease each year, according to statistics released in 2015 by the CDC. As a result of the difficulty in diagnosing and treating Lyme disease, as many as one million Americans may be suffering from the impact of its treatment resistant long-term symptoms and complications, according to Bay Area Lyme Foundation estimates.

About Bay Area Lyme Foundation
Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a national organization committed to making Lyme disease easy to diagnose and simple to cure, is the leading public foundation sponsor of innovative Lyme disease research in the US. A 501c3 non-profit organization based in Silicon Valley, Bay Area Lyme collaborates with world-class scientists and institutions to accelerate medical breakthroughs for Lyme disease. It is also dedicated to providing reliable, fact-based information so that prevention and the importance of early treatment are common knowledge. A pivotal donation from The LaureL STEM Fund covers all overhead costs and allows for 100% of all donor contributions to Bay Area Lyme Foundation to go directly to research and prevention programs. For more information about Lyme disease or to get involved, visit or call us at 650-530-2439.

About Spaulding Rehabilitation Network
A member of Partners HealthCare, the Spaulding Rehabilitation Network includes Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, its main campus in Charlestown as well as Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital Cape Cod, Spaulding Hospital Cambridge and Spaulding Nursing and Therapy Center Brighton, as well as twenty-five outpatient sites throughout Eastern Massachusetts. In 2017, U.S. News & World Report named Spaulding as the #4 rehabilitation hospital in the nation. Spaulding is one of the few hospitals in the U.S. to be awarded the prestigious Model Systems designation in all three areas of care--Spinal Cord Injury, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Burn Injury--selected by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research. A teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School, Spaulding has been recognized for fostering the #1 residency program in the country for research output by Doximity Residency Navigator. Spaulding also was recognized by the 2017 Disability Equality Index as a "Best Places to Work for Disability Inclusion". For more information, please visit

View original content:

SOURCE Bay Area Lyme Foundation