Diagnostics and vaccines for Lyme disease

Lead investigator: Sunil Thomas, PhD

Using the principle of structure-based design, LIMR researchers synthesized peptides corresponding to the epitopes of the antigenic proteins of Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterial species responsible for transmission of Lyme disease. These antigenic peptides could be used in diagnostics application. The peptides could detect the Borrelia-specific antibody in blood samples of Lyme disease patients.

The structure-based peptides could also induce antibodies and protect against Borrelia in animal models, and so could be considered vaccine candidates for Lyme disease. LIMR also developed a Sonix vaccine that does not induce antibody but in laboratory studies has been shown to provide protection against Lyme disease.

Technology description

Using a bioinformatics approach, LIMR determined the epitopes of the antigenic proteins of Borrelia OspA, OspC, OspE, OspF, VlsE, BmpA, napA, p41, p100. Structure-based peptides are known to be used in diagnostic applications. To determine whether the antigenic peptides of Borrelia could be used in diagnosis, LIMR probed the sera of patients infected with Borrelia. ELISA tests demonstrated that the peptides generated against the Borrelia antigenic proteins could be used in the diagnosis of Lyme disease.

To determine if the generated peptides could protect against Lyme disease, mice were immunized with the peptides in the presence of an adjuvant. The immunized mice had a significant reduction in the bacterial load in the tissues. The Sonix vaccine also provided significant protection against Borrelia.

The LIMR study demonstrated that structure-based vaccine and Sonix vaccine provides significant protection against the pathogenic Borrelia and may be considered vaccine candidates for Lyme disease.

Business opportunity

Each year about 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by state health departments, up from about 12,000 in 1997. And yet there are no commercially available vaccines. Untreated Lyme disease can produce a wide range of symptoms, depending on the stage of infection. Symptoms can include rash, fever, pain, facial paralysis, heart palpitations, dizziness, inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, and arthritis.

Intellectual property position

Patent pending. Development of diagnostics and multiple vaccines for Lyme disease.