Tulane National Primate Research Center has the
most extensive divisional program at Tulane on Lyme disease, or Lyme borreliosisa among the many other
infectious diseases under research there. In the:
Division of Bacteriology &
Parasitology where Lyme disease is researched.
An emerging infectious disease that affects people in North America, Europe, and Asia, Lyme
borreliosis is caused by the spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted by ticks. The disease may
manifest in numerous ways, e.g. as an inflammation of the skin (erythema migrans), as arthritis, and in the
peripheral and central nervous systems as, for example, facial paralysis and through neurocognitive symptoms.
Lyme disease that affects the nervous system is also called Lyme neuroborreliosis. After
developing a nonhuman primate model of Lyme disease, divisional faculty are currently using this model to try to
understand the pathogenesis of neuroborreliosis of the central nervous system.
Improvement of methods for the serological diagnosis of Lyme disease is also of major
interest to divisional faculty. The significance of this line of research stems from the fact that Lyme disease
that is accurately diagnosed early in the course of infection is more efficaciously treated with antibiotics than
when the disease remains undiagnosed for extended periods.
The C6 test, an antibody detection assay that is more sensitive and specific than the
tests available heretofore, was developed by investigators in the Division. An additional advantage is that the
test does not yield false-positive results with serum specimens from humans or dogs that have received Lyme disease
The test was approved by the FDA and the USDA for human and animal use, respectively, and
licensed by Tulane University to Immunetics, Inc., of Cambridge, MA, for human use, and to IDEXX Laboratories, Inc.
of Westbrook, ME, for veterinary purposes.
Currently research on diagnosis is focused on the C6 test as a predictor of Lyme disease
therapy outcome, a possible new application of the test.
The spirochete B. burgdorferi has evolved numerous mechanisms of adaptation to
which it must resort in order to survive in different host organs, in environments as dissimilar as ticks and mice,
and in the face of a swift and intense immune response.
Divisional scientists are researching the mechanisms of gene regulation that underpin
these survival stratagems. Important findings have been made in relation to spirochetal adaptation to different
cell densities and to changes in environmental pH and temperature, as well as relating to the ability of this
organism to circumvent the antibody response of the host.
Faculty includes over 30 doctoral-level scientists involved in research, education and research support. The
major research areas are infectious diseases and gene therapy. In the last year the TNPRC supported research by
over 280 scientists from 32 states and 13 countries. To name a few of the top scientists:
Mario T. Philipp, PhD, - Chair/Professor of Microbiology & Immunology (Lyme disease,
Dennis, Vida PhD, - Adjunct Assistant Professor (Lyme disease,
Embers, Monica E.
PhD, - Instructor ( Lyme disease, Primate Moraxella,
Kaushal, Deepak PhD, - Research
Assistant Professor (Tuberculosis,
Ramamoorthy, Ramesh PhD, Research Assistant Professor (Lyme
For a complete list visit http://www.tpc.tulane.edu/faculty.html.