Prof. Francisco Veas, PhD, chief security officer, Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, France, discusses the launch of a task force dedicated to gaining a better understanding of Lyme disease.
Interview Transcript (slightly modified for readability):
“What we decided, a few weeks ago, is to make a pilot organization to launch a task force to better understand Lyme disease. To better understand Lyme disease, we need to know [more] about what the pathological agents [are] that are involved in that, and we need to study sequences that are present in infected patients and the ticks that have bitten them. And we need to know, what are the pathogens that are playing in this disease? We would like to fine tune and determine what the potential etiological agents are because there are many. Not only Borrelia species, but there are many others that are candidates to participate in this particular disease. Certainly, because of the lack of knowledge, [the disease] is underestimated. There are too many people with neurological dysfunctions related to this vector-borne disease. This will be the first step; the second step will be to get an accurate and efficient diagnostic—that doesn’t exist presently. You cannot afford clinical management without knowing what’s happening there. And then, what about the treatment? What about the time of treatment? There are too many questions on the table, and in parallel with that, there is a lot of suffering [due to] this situation; they cannot be treated because of that. They continue to suffer, maybe worsening the situation. This is the reason why we [recruited] important people [for] our task force.
Christian Perrone is one of the important people here [at the First International Zika Conference] because he’s a medical doctor that has been working for more than 20 years in France on this particular disease. He wrote a really good book that is a bestseller right now in France, in Europe, and importantly, with this book, he succeeded in changing the view of the government. Now, the government wants to consider the possibility to treat Lyme disease like a chronic disease. For that, they are going to create some pilot centers in France to improve the diagnostics essentially, but what we want to do with our task force, is with Christian Perrone in France, and with Gus Urlich in the United States, in Canada with Carrie Weiss, [is create] three pilot laboratories, maybe four [with one] in Israel (I would be more than happy about that), to [work on] better understanding this disease using the most sophisticated technologies to understand what is present [and] what can be the etiological agents. Maybe it’s an interaction between them; we don’t know anything about that. This is the main aim of this task force: improve diagnostics and then go for adaptive therapeutics when we know the etiological agents, and maybe improve or adapt the vaccine approach.”
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