1 February 2017

Bart-Jan Kullberg and Leo Joosten theme Infectious diseases and global health have received 3 ZonMw grants totaling €900,000 for new research projects on Lyme disease

Bart-Jan Kullberg and Leo Joosten theme Infectious diseases and global health have received 3 ZonMw grants totaling €900,000 for new research projects on Lyme disease, in collaboration with AMC Amsterdam and RIVM. The projects will focus on new diagnostic tests, the host’s immune response to Borrelia infection, and the course of Lyme disease in children. 

Lyme disease is caused by the tick-borne spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi. There is growing attention for long-lasting symptoms after Lyme disease. Patients' organizations, medical professionals, researchers, and the government collaborate to obtain more insight in the pathogenesis of these persisting symptoms. ZonMw recently awarded three research proposals on this topic, in all of which researchers at Radboudumc are involved.

One of the projects will focus on the host defense against Borrelia. Professor Leo Joosten, head of the Experimental Internal Medicine laboratory: “In our new project, we aim to elucidate the influence of the Borrelia bacteria on genes and proteins involved in the host’s immune response after infection. This will help improving diagnostics and treatment of the disease.” 

In clinical practice, the current serological tests used for Lyme disease often do not differentiate active from past disease in patients with persisting symptoms. Bart-Jan Kullberg, Professor of Medicine and Infectious Diseases, about the second project: “New cellular assays, potentially valuable for diagnosing active Lyme disease, will be scientifically validated in a large Nationwide cohort of patients.”  

The third project will focus on Lyme disease in children, in collaboration with the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases. This project supplements the ongoing LymeProspect study, in which patients with Lyme disease are prospectively followed to investigate prevalence and etiology of persisting symptoms. LymeProspect started in 2015 in adult Lyme patients and will now start to include children. 

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