Lyme Diagnostics Competition Announces Phase One Winners

We are thrilled to share the news that ten phase one winners have been chosen for the LymeX Diagnostics Prize! This is a competition currently being held in the US to accelerate the development of an accurate Lyme disease test.

Such developments are desperately needed, as current testing is unreliable and there is no test available to indicate when the infection has been eradicated. Testing in the UK is a two-tier system: the first stage is an ELISA test, and the second tier is an Immunoblot. The reliability of both tests is questionable and it’s important to be aware that a negative result cannot rule out Lyme disease. Private labs often argue that their testing is superior but often, these tests have not been independently evaluated or validated.

Phase 1 of the LymeX Diagnostics Prize called upon scientific, technical, and clinical experts to submit innovative methods for detecting active Lyme disease infections in people.

It has been unique in bringing together a multidisciplinary group of technical reviewers and judges, alongside patients, advocates, academia, non-profits, industry, and government to address this urgent patient need.

Between May and August 2022, 52 solutions were put forward for detecting active Lyme disease infections in people, incorporating various techniques such as radiology imaging, genomics sequencing, and microfluidics.

Congratulations to the following 10 phase 1 winners! Each winner will receive $100,000 and an invitation to participate in a second phase, subject to the availability of future funding:

  • BlueArc Biosciences Inc. Ultra-Sensitive Direct Diagnostic for Early Lyme Disease. A molecular diagnostic blood test for Lyme B. burgdorferi s.l. using innovative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay that targets biomarkers for increased accuracy using standard laboratory equipment.
  • Drexel University College of Medicine. Glycoproteomic Approach to Lyme Disease Diagnostics. A small-volume serum test using glycan biomarkers to detect active Lyme disease infection, track treatment response, and distinguish between diseases with similar symptoms.
  • George Mason University. Borrelia Derived, Sequence-Specific Novel Diagnostic Peptides. A urine direct test that targets absolutely specific protein molecules and would provide direct information about pathogen activity.
  • HelixBind Inc. Ultra-Sensitive Direct Detection of Active Borrelia Infections. A test combining novel sample preparation and artificial nucleic acid detection to identify active infection in whole blood, synovial fluid, and cerebrospinal fluid.
  • InBios International Inc. Early Lyme Diagnosis Using a Microarray Immunoassay with Machine Learning. An automated, quantified, array-based serum test using machine learning to improve sensitivity in categorizing specimens.
  • Massachusetts General Hospital. Cell-free Target Capture Sequencing for the Diagnosis of Lyme Disease. A plasma test depleting human background material from samples and detecting low-abundance nucleic acid from tick-borne pathogens.
  • Serimmune Inc. NGS-based Precision Serology for the Diagnosis of Tick-borne Disease. A universal multiplex serum test that incorporates patient-centric surveillance testing, population data, and machine learning to enhance understanding of tick-borne diseases.
  • T2 Biosystems Inc. T2Lyme Panel Direct Detection of Active Lyme Disease. A whole blood test designed to directly detect Lyme disease-causing bacteria, providing results in three to five hours with higher accuracy.
  • Tufts University. Antiphospholipid Antibodies for Tracking Lyme Disease After Treatment. A serum test targeting a unique antibody that would more accurately identify early infection and allow clinicians to optimize additional treatment.
  • Virginia Tech. Detecting Release of Peptidoglycan for Direct Lyme Disease Diagnosis. A test using monoclonal antibodies in conjunction with immuno-PCR to detect a unique B. burgdorferi biomarker in multiple biofluids.

Thank you so much to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Cohen Foundation for driving forward such important research. You can follow future updates via the LymeX Diagnostics Prize website.