SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Researchers at Upstate Medical University are taking part in a Lyme disease study that could one day help doctors diagnose Lyme faster.

It started pre-pandemic but COVID delayed the work. Now, they’re ramping up and they need participants.

It’s called the ImmuneSense Lyme Study. The goal is to help develop a better diagnostic test for Lyme. One that could catch it faster than the two current tests, which only look at a person’s antibody response.

One of the shortfalls to that is if you have an acute case of Lyme, you’re gonna run into the problems where your body doesn’t amount a high enough immune response where these tests can detect these antibodies early in the course of the disease.

Dr. Kris Paolino — infectious disease physician at Upstate Medical University

With the current tests, Lyme often goes undetected. This study looks at the T-cell response, which is a different immune response. “See how sensitive it is, how specific it is,” said Paolino.

“Hopefully diagnose Lyme faster and also help diagnose whether somebody who had a diagnosis of Lyme and who was treated, whether or not that would be something where they can say yes you’re cured or no, we think there may still be something going on.”

Dr. Kris Paolino

It could be a game-changer. The earlier Lyme is diagnosed, the more effective the treatment is.

If you can diagnose Lyme early in the course, the likelihood is you’re not going to go on to have some of these really debilitating symptoms. The joint problems, the chronic pain, the headaches you know the brain fog, and memory issues. All of those things become almost impossible to treat.

Dr. Kris Paolino

Researchers are looking for three groups of participants:

  1. People with a bulls-eye rash
  2. People without a rash but with clear Lyme-like symptoms
  3. People with other tick-borne diseases.

“What we’re trying to identify is people who are within that seven days of treatment so we can hopefully have the freshest immune response that we can,” Paolino said.

The study consists of four visits. Participants would be compensated for their time while hopefully, helping future patients in the process.

To learn more about the study and to see if you participate, click here.