One Step Closer to Lyme Disease Vaccine

Thanks to Josh Babcock, College of Veterinary Medicine,Washington State University for this article. Researchers have discovered the reason that Lyme disease can cause persistent arthritis. It's a "shield" that protects our antibodies from attacking and destroying the part of the bacterium that causes arthritis. Troy Bankhead, associate professor in WSU's Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology department, and his team have spent more than a decade analyzing an immune evasive protein of Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes tick-borne Lyme disease. With the lab's latest finding, that work is beginning to pay off. According to research recently published in Cell Reports, Bankhead and assistant research professor Abdul Lone discovered that a surface protein known as VlsE acts as a shield to prevent the immune system from effectively fighting the disease. In particular, the study examined how VlsE protects one of the main proteins responsible for Lyme disease's persistent arthritis. "This really has a significant impact in the development of vaccines," Bankhead said. "If we can determine which proteins are shielded as opposed to which ones are not, then of course those that are not protected are going to be better candidates for a vaccine." The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimat

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