For Immediate Release
Contact: Tom Capezzuto
At UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School
Lyme Disease Bacteria Linked to Specific Bacteria Known to Cause
-Study Published in February Issue of Journal of Clinical Microbiology
2/24/05—Researchers at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New
Jersey (UMDNJ) have discovered molecular similarities between the
bacteria that causes Lyme disease and other bacteria that are known
to trigger various autoimmune illnesses, such as arthritis and heart
The researchers made this discovery in a laboratory study of mice
genetically prone to developing autoimmune diseases, said Dr. Elizabeth
S. Raveche, an immunologist at the UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School
in Newark and principal investigator. The study is published in
the February issue of the Journal of Clinical Microbiology.
"The study showed that those who are prone to autoimmune diseases
may develop a more prolonged form of Lyme" said Dr. Raveche,
a researcher at the medical school's Department of Pathology
and Laboratory Medicine.
Lyme disease is cause by the bacterial spirochete known as Borrelia
burgdorferi, which is transmitted by a tick bite. The disease can
affect skin, nervous system, joints and the heart. It is frequently
accompanied by a red bull's eye rash surrounding the site
of the tick bite.
In the study, Dr. Raveche and Dr. Steven E. Schutzer, an immunologist
at the medical school, found that the Osp-A protein of the Lyme
disease bacteria shared molecular similarities with the Streptococcus
pyogenes M protein known to cause autoimmune-related diseases, including
rheumatic heart disease and arthritis.
The authors noted that these findings are preliminary and require
further research. Researchers from the University of New Mexico
and University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center also contributed
to this study.
--February 24, 2005