September 5, 2011 Joe Burrascano, Jr., MD has announced a new lab test available for Lyme doctors to use in determining if Lyme is present. There is no need to wait for antibodies to form since this is a culture-based test. This should provide much faster and more accurate detection, and allow Lyme patients to receive treatment as soon as possible. Please read below for Dr. Burrascano’s description of the new test:
In my work as a consultant, I have been working with a private lab located near Philadelphia, Advanced Laboratories, Inc. They wanted to develop a unique and high value test, and, with my interest in Lyme, I naturally encouraged them to work on a better Lyme Disease test.
As a result of some very intensive work on the part of a group of some very brilliant scientists, they have succeeded in developing a reliable and rapid blood culture for Borrelia! See the attached press release.
They actually have rolled out two separate panels- a basic one and an advanced one. In the basic panel, the blood sample is cultured and the positives are identified by histology and growth characteristics, and confirmed by fluorescent immunostaining. Positive reports will include a picture of the Bb growing in that very culture. The advanced panel will do this, but will also do PCR using well characterized and published DNA primer sets, and then all positive PCRs will be confirmed by DNA sequencing.
Remarkably, turn-around time can be as brief as ten days for the basic test, and seven to ten more days for the advanced panel.
This test is being rolled out gradually, with no big public announcements yet. That is why I am e-mailing you, so you can be among the first to be able to order this testing, before the lab gets swamped. Apparently you have to contact the lab to have test kits sent to you. The blood must be sent out the same day it is collected, and the lab provides a prepaid return FedEx mailer. As the lab is not yet accepting specimens over weekends, please do not collect blood on Fridays.
The bad news- New York being New York, this culture will not be available to NY State practitioners for several months. The States of California and Florida may have a delayed availability- I am not sure, so please contact the lab to get this info. However, all other states are OK.
I have no idea on pricing or on insurance issues- again, you will have to contact them for this info. The lab plans to have a booth at the conferences at LDA and at ILADS, so hopefully their presence will allow all to field questions.
The next step in their research is also equally exciting and ground breaking, but I am not at liberty to say yet what is being planned.
I will be travelling over the rest of this week, so I am afraid that I may not be able to answer any calls or e-mails until I get back, so if I do not respond to any contact efforts, please be patient.
As many of you recall, I learned the basics of true, clinical Lyme over 25 years ago thanks to Bb culturing that was available to me by Dr. Alan MacDonald. The new methods being used by this Pennsylvania lab go far beyond what MacDonald was able to do, so I am very excited to not only share this news with you, but I also cannot wait to see how it will change how we practice.
I also predict that Bb will be found in a lot of people, from mildly to severely ill, and that will redefine the role of the immunologist in Lyme to find out why some people recover and why others do not. Strain info as provided by the DNA sequencing data will be equally fascinating to follow.
So, enjoy the good news, and PLEASE, if you are going to begin culturing your patients, keep good records of your results. Data collection and tabulation has never been as important as it is now, with a quantum advance in testing technology.
Best wishes, from Dr. B…………………………..!