The Phelix Phage Borrelia Test: a breakthrough for non-diagnosed ill people

  Since one year already R.E.D. Laboratories is offering the Phelix Phage Borrelia Test. 

This is a new way to detect infections by different strains of Borrelia (not only B. burgdorferi sensu lato (sl) but also B. miyamotoi and relapsing fever). To understand the strengths and the benefits of this test, we need to learn more about bacteriophages.

What are Bacteriophages?

Phages are part of the most primitive form of life, the virus. They can rapidly infect and insert genetic material into their host. As a result, they are able to produce large numbers of copies. These copies can infect several bacteria causing an infection. Phages can even make bacteria vulnerable to classic treatment by altering their genetic material.  

Bacteriophages are ubiquitous and are part of the natural ‘ecosystem’ of the bacteria living and replication cycles. We have decided to focus on bacteriophages as a target for direct detection of an infection, as they are specific and outnumber the pathogen bacterial population.

 Bacteriophages could become a diagnostic tool based on the principle that if there are phages it is because there are living bacteria. Phelix Charity together with Leicester University microbiology department have recently developed a Borrelia Phage-based PCR test that is efficiently used to assess both human samples and ticks.  

What is a Phelix Phage test?

Phelix Phage test (patent n° WO2018083491A1) is performed on whole blood, but can also be used for any other material suspected to contain given pathogen (like biopsy, punction liquid from a swollen joint, cerebrospinal fluid or ticks).

We are now offering this test on urine samples also (first morning urine). The test is also suitable for analyzing the ticks. The very first step is to extract DNA using a specific manual method to ensure the very best recovery of pathogen DNA. The extracted DNA undergoes 3 real-time PCRs using patented primers and probes for a specific phage detection.

The 3 PCRs aim to detect the following targets (i) Borrelia miyamotoi, (ii) Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato (B. burgdorferi s.s., B. bissetti, B. bavariensis, B. valaisiana, B. afzelii,B. garinii), (iii) Relapsing fever (B. hermsii, B. recurrentis, B. crocidurae, B. duttonii). Each target is tested in quadruplicate. The amplified fragments are then analysed by sequencing to confirm the positivity of the sample (i.e. to rule out false positives). Phage-based PCR detection is suitable for both early and late stages.

Why is this test so important?

It is the only test that :

  • can assess different Borrelia strains, not only Borrelia burgdorferi sl,
  • is suitable for acute and persistant/chronic infection,
  • can uncover an active disease (versus the exposure, obtained by serology testing),
  • can allow to assess the efficiency of a given treatment
  • can discriminate between an active disease versus post-lyme syndrome.

What we learned so far with this test?

Testing over 2500 samples evidenced a prevalence of B. miyamotoi over B. burgdorferi sl. Seen a high prevalence of B. miyamotoi in tested ticks, further supported by similar percentages found in tested patients, one can hypothesize that the high failure rate of current two-tier screening testing, searching for B. burgdorferi sl only, might be due to the wrong testing target. In other words, the overall high expansion of undiagnosed Lyme disease cases worldwide might be linked to the screening choice focusing only on B. burgdorferi sl and only rarely testing for B. miyamotoi while the later one seems to be much more prevalent.

Click here for more information about the Phelix Phage Test!  

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