Lyme disease

The research takes aim at white-footed mice, which spread Lyme disease.
D. Gordon E. Robertson / Wikicommons / http://bit.ly/2x5pogV

Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket aren’t just hotspots for summer visitors. They’re hotspots for Lyme disease. That, plus the fact they are islands, make them attractive places to try novel ways to stop the spread of Lyme disease.

Kevin Esvelt of MIT’s Media Lab has a particularly innovative – and potentially controversial – idea about how to do just that. Esvelt’s idea is to genetically modify mice to make them permanently and heritably immune to Lyme disease. They call the project Mice Against Ticks.

Cape Cod and the Islands are hot spots for Lyme disease.  2017 data from the State Department of Public Health showed Dukes County leading the state in Lyme disease followed by Berkshire and Plymouth counties, Nantucket 4th, and Barnstable ranked 6th.  On The Point, we discuss how Lyme disease affects the body, why it can be difficult to diagnose, and the toll chronic Lyme takes on psychological and physical health. We’ll also talk with researchers about their work tracking the spread of the disease. 

A French company has completed the first round of human trials for a new Lyme vaccine. It could be another five years before it comes to market.
Neil R - Flickr (http://bit.ly/2JVfNMg)

It’s hard to believe, but we actually had a vaccine for Lyme disease in the 1990’s.

It was pulled from the market in 2002 after a class action lawsuit alleged that it infected people with Lyme rather than protecting them from it.

The government didn't find any evidence of that, but it’s taken 15 years for a drug developer to get close to getting a new one to market. 

Nevena Zubcevik is at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital
Texas Lutheran University http://bit.ly/2w3MQKH

Dr. Nevena Zubcevik is a brain injury researcher and co-director of the new Dean Center for Tick Borne Illness at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, which focuses on treating the long-term effects of Lyme disease. She is also an instructor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School, an attending physician at Spalding and Massachusetts General Hospital. We spoke to her in August 2016 about her work and we are replaying a shorter version of that program below.