When it comes to Lyme disease, one of the biggest hurdles to successful treatment is the lack of accurate testing. Diagnosis in the acute stage is relatively more simple than the chronic stage; in the former, the patient will usually present with flu-like symptoms and a bullseye rash, which is a prime indicator of Lyme. Once this distinctive symptom has been brought to a doctor’s attention, successful treatment is a matter of course. However, if the acute stage develops into the chronic stage, testing and diagnosis gets a lot more complicated. The traditional test for chronic Lyme is the ELISA and Western Blot, which tests for the presence of antibodies against borrelia burgdorferi on. However, the LymeSpot, utilized by BCA-clinic in Germany and Infectolab in the U.S., is a much more precise tool, and a better option for patients and doctors alike.
Chronic Lyme affects each individual differently; there’s no way of telling what path the disease will take in each separate patient. Many of the symptoms of chronic Lyme come from the body’s own response to the infection. The joint pain, fatigue, swelling and muscle aches are all due to an over-active inflammation process as the immune system tries to fight back against the foreign invader.
Before any testing can get underway, a patient first needs to find a Lyme-literate doctor. Chronic Lyme disease mirrors the effects of a number of other chronic conditions, and misdiagnosis is extremely common. Multiple sclerosis and fibromyalgia are two conditions that Lyme is commonly mistaken for. This is compounded by the fact that chronic Lyme remains a controversial topic in America. It remains to be fully legitimized by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and many medical professionals are skeptical of its long-term effects. However, once a Lyme-literate doctor suspects Lyme, they will often test for the disease using a two-tier method. The first is an ELISA, followed by what’s known as a Western blot to confirm the diagnosis.
However, the ELISA returns a false negative all too often. It is not precise as a test, and if you’re a patient who’s demanded Lyme testing from a somewhat skeptical doctor, that avenue can get shut down pretty quickly when a negative test result comes back. Building on the solid foundations of the ELISpot, BCA-clinic supported the development of a new test, the LymeSpot, created in conjunction with AID, who own the rights for the procedure. This test is designed to be much more specific than the traditional ELISA, allowing doctors to get a better understanding of the progress of the disease.
The ELISA cannot distinguish between a past and ongoing infection, as it only tests for the presence of antibodies against Lyme bacteria (borrelia burgdorferi). When it comes to chronic Lyme, the presence of active T-cells that fight the invading bacterium adds on valuable information for treatment.
BCA-clinic and Infectolab understand this dissonance very well, which is why they supported the development of a new test: one that considers the activity of T-cells in the body of a patient and helps guide the doctor’s decision in antibiotic use and other forms of treatment. This is how the LymeSpot came about.
BCA-clinic were extremely hands-on during the development process. They validated the test by running numerous control scenarios in their lab, comparing and evaluating results to improve the accuracy of the procedure. At the backend, they also helped get the product to market, and continue to promote it at various conferences and fairs. Of course, the test is also utilized by BCA-clinic themselves, to aid the treatment of the numerous Lyme disease patients who turn to them for help every year. They are the only laboratory in Germany that offers this upgraded system of Lyme testing.
The benefits of this test are numerous. The LymeSpot is invaluable in deciding the next steps for treatment. As it provides results and values for acute active and chronic controlled infection, doctors are in a much better position to advise on the next treatment steps, as the two routes are very different. A higher showing of infection will usually demand rounds of antibiotics primarily, while a higher instance of inflammation requires herbal supplements and nutritionist input in order to tackle the sustained immune response. Reexamination is also useful to qualify inflammation and infection levels after a period of time, and ultimately determine whether the prescribed treatment is effective.