Pillar I. Diagnostics. Using biobank samples and associated clinical cohort data, we will fund projects through a seed grant program that will develop and evaluate novel diagnostics platforms and methods to: 1) improve diagnostic test sensitivity, accuracy and/or speed in early LD and in non-endemic regions where limitations in positive predictive power of current testing are problematic; and 2) identify novel non-antibody-based biomarkers to improve sensitivity of early testing, monitor disease progression, resolution and treatment outcomes, distinguish patients with different disease symptoms, identify patients at risk of experiencing post-antibiotic treatment LD symptoms (PTLDS), and identify biomarkers of PTLDS that may lead to improved understanding and treatment of these symptoms. We will evaluate the ability of these and current two-tier serological tests to detect and possibly distinguish infection with different Lyme disease Borrelia strains present in Canada.
Pillar II. Prevention and Risk Reduction. We will support research to identify and evaluate preventive measures, interventions, and/or population health approaches to decrease risk of occurrence of LD, including a population cohort-linked multi-site longitudinal study to investigate environmental, social and epidemiological LD risk determinants. Additionally, seed grants will allow us to build regional models and maps to predict fine-scale risk and investigate novel risk reduction strategies. These activities will provide a quantitative framework to identify, develop and evaluate novel approaches for measuring and reducing LD risk.
Pillar III. Clinical Science & Health Services Research. We will support research to determine the natural history of LD and identify and clinical (e.g., comorbidities) and other (e.g., bacterial strains, environmental, co-infections) risk factors for LD infection and progression (manifestations, sequelae). We will determine the impact of clinical management (diagnosis, treatment) on disease outcomes of Borrelia infection. We will determine the health and economic burden of LD from a wide range of perspectives. Understanding the burden of disease, natural history of disease, clinical management and risk factors will allow us to identify and assess integrated intervention strategies encompassing targeted and universal environmental (e.g., risk reduction strategies) and clinical interventions.
Pillar IV. Patient & Community Engagement, Training and Knowledge Translation. We will conduct research, in collaboration with community and patient stakeholders, on LD assumptions, perspectives, concerns, and goals held by the general public, HCPs, and patients to establish a basis for developing effective approaches to knowledge translation, training, and information dissemination. The goal of this work will be to enhance communication and collaboration between stakeholders for improved LD diagnosis, treatment, and the development and adoption of evolving best practices.