Thursday, December 12, 2013

CanLyme donates $304,000 for Lyme Disease research

The Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation, a registered charitable organization, is pleased to announce that it has made a donation of $304,000 to the G Magnotta Foundation for Vector Borne Diseases, Ontario, Canada.

The donation will be used primarily for a human tissue research program being developed in conjunction with the Humber River Hospital, Toronto, Canada.  Research will entail studying tissue and fluid from various patient groups whose symptoms mirror Lyme Disease.

Approximately 2 million Canadians are diagnosed with conditions of unknown origin including multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, chronic fatigue syndrome/ME, fibromyalgia, Parkinson's disease and other conditions that share symptoms with Lyme Disease. We know that a percentage of these are in fact Lyme Disease, or triggered by Lyme Disease.  This research program will aide in understanding what that percentage is.

Many Canadians have been diagnosed with one of these diseases of unknown origins only to find out later that their illness was Lyme Disease all along. Treatment for Lyme Disease followed, and their quality of life improved greatly, allowing many to get out of wheelchairs, get out of bed, return to work, return to school, and enjoy life again.

As reported by Health Canada in October 2012, current tests used in Canada to test for Lyme Disease are incapable of detecting many of the bacterial strains that causes Lyme Disease. In order to understand the prevalence of the bacterium in the human population, researchers will employ various technologies, including advanced DNA sequencing techniques, microscopy, and serology.

In August 2013, in a press release by the CDC (United States Center for Disease Control), it was indicated that they have been inadvertently under-reporting Lyme Disease for decades; instead of the approximately 30,000 cases reported annually, the real incidence is estimated to be closer to 300,000 cases annually.  Most cases are within a few hundred miles of the Canadian border, suggesting that Canada likewise has a serious, under-recognized problem and the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation has been emphasizing this for a decade.

This new research program will help give Canadians a better understanding of the impact tick-borne disease is having on the health care system.

The Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation has also now released its venture grant policy for students and researchers.  Grants of up to ten thousand dollars are offered to qualified applicants.

The Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation was founded in 2003 by Jim Wilson.  The mission of the foundation is to promote awareness, education, and research into tick borne diseases.

Lyme Disease is a bacterial infection acquired from tick attachments, and is endemic in all provinces of Canada. Migratory birds, like robins, finches, and other passerine birds carry the disease in their blood and transport the ticks, depositing them randomly across the country.

Lyme Disease is the fastest growing infectious disease in the Northern Hemisphere.  In August the United States published a press release stating they have been under-reporting cases of Lyme Disease by a factor of ten, putting estimate annual cases at 300,000.  Canada has a similar situation of under-reporting and the cost to our health care system is enormous.

If caught early Lyme Disease can normally be dealt with by a few weeks of antibiotics, but once it becomes disseminated throughout the body treatment is much more difficult and can require long-term antibiotics.  Unfortunately, in Canada, early diagnosis is uncommon in part because doctors are told that the overly emphasized bull's eye rash occurs much more frequently than it does.  Current research suggests that only a small subset of the Lyme bacteria will cause a rash of any kind.

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