“Trailblazing” Lyme Disease Researchers to Be Honored at Lyme Research Alliance Gala

Kim Lewis, Ph.D. and Ying Zhang, M.D., Ph.D. to receive awards for their ongoing work researching “persister” organisms and recurrent disease at LRA’s “Time for Lyme” Gala on April 5, 2014 in Old Greenwich, CT. Proceeds from the event will be used to fund important research at universities and major medical institutions throughout the U.S.

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Recurrent infections are not just a problem in late stage Lyme disease, but a major dilemma for surgeons and patients dealing with artificial heart valves, prosthetic joints, and diseases such as tuberculosis and cystic fibrosis.

Greenwich, CT (PRWEB) March 12, 2014

Two distinguished Lyme disease researchers—Kim Lewis, Ph.D. of Northeastern University and Ying Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health—will each receive the Lauren F. Brooks Hope Award at Lyme Research Alliance’s “Time for Lyme” Gala, April 5, 2014, at the Hyatt Regency Greenwich in Old Greenwich, CT. The Award honors those who are making strides in research and treatment in the pursuit of a Lyme disease cure.

Both scientists are deeply involved in researching “persisters,” cells that manage to survive antibiotic assault. Unlike some cells that are literally resistant and can live and replicate normally in the presence of a drug, mysterious persister cells neither die nor grow in the presence of an antibiotic. Rather, they exist in a dormant state that allows them to survive antibiotic treatment, only to awaken later and start a new wave of infection.

“We are thankful that these two brilliant scientists are trailblazing research into persister organisms," said Harriet Kotsoris, M.D., LRA’s chief scientific officer. “Recurrent infections are not just a problem in late stage Lyme disease, but a major dilemma for surgeons and patients dealing with artificial heart valves, prosthetic joints, and diseases such as tuberculosis and cystic fibrosis,” she said. “Researchers are working fast and furiously to find better treatments to reduce not only morbidity, but mortality, associated with antibiotic tolerance. Drs. Zhang and Lewis, both LRA grantees, are at the forefront of this work.”

In November, Dr. Lewis, distinguished professor and director of Northeastern’s Antimicrobial Discovery Center, announced his research had led to a treatment to cure the “superbug” MRSA in a variety of laboratory experiments and in a mouse model of chronic MRSA infection. Dr. Lewis and his team found that a drug called ADEP wakes up dormant persisters and then initiates a self-destruct mechanism.
 
By coupling ADEP with a traditional antibiotic, Dr. Lewis and his team were able to completely destroy the MRSA cells. Dr. Lewis’ team believes similar compounds will be useful for treating other infections as well, and they are testing ADEP against the Lyme disease spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb).

LRA’s other honoree, Dr. Zhang, professor of molecular microbiology and immunology at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, has demonstrated that the drug Pyrazinamide (PZA) is uniquely effective against tuberculosis bacteria that have transitioned into a persister state, tolerant to most antibiotics. He is testing compounds singly, and in combination with the PZA, to find an optimal treatment regimen for patients with chronic Lyme disease.

LRA’s “Time for Lyme” Gala, its largest fundraiser of the year, helps to fund important medical research projects. LRA is the leading private nonprofit organization funding cutting-edge research into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases by universities and major U.S. medical institutions.

The Gala is shaping up to be an exciting event with television personality Gretchen Carlson, herself a Lyme disease sufferer, serving as Mistress of Ceremonies. Elena Delle Donne—the reigning Women’s National Basketball Association’s (WNBA) Rookie of the Year—will receive the organization’s “StarLight” Award for raising awareness about Lyme disease. In addition, a veritable Who’s Who list of celebrities, including actor Peter Sarsgaard; designer Tommy Hilfiger; baseball Hall of Famer Tom Seaver; actress Jane Alexander; Real Housewives of Beverly Hills co-star Yolanda Foster and others, have signed on as Honorary Event Chairs.

The Gala will be held Saturday, April 5 from 6:30 p.m. to midnight at the Hyatt Regency Greenwich in Old Greenwich, CT. The evening features dinner, dancing and a live auction.

Ticket Information

Tickets may be purchased online by visiting http://www.LymeResearchAlliance.org and clicking on the homepage box, or by calling 203-969-1333.
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Lyme Research Alliance, formerly Time for Lyme, is a Connecticut-based, national non-profit that funds cutting-edge research into Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. For more information, go to http://www.LymeResearchAlliance.org.


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