30 April 2007

Greenwich, CT, April 2007 - On April 30, The Lyme & Tick-borne Diseases Research Center (The Center) at Columbia University Medical Center will open its doors, making it the first in the country to focus on unraveling the complexities of these illnesses and offering hope to the thousands who struggle with them.

Learn more
30 April 2007

Contact: Susan Craig, CUMC, (212) 305-3900; sc2756@columbia.edu
Dacia Morris, NYSPI, (212) 543-5421; Morrisd@pi.cpmc.columbia.edu

*MEDIA ADVISORY*

First Lyme Disease Research Center in Nation Launches at Columbia University Medical Center

Symposium to Cover Frequent Misdiagnosis & Controversial Treatment Guidelines, Rising U.S. Incidence, Imaging of Brains Affected by Lyme

Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) celebrates the launch of the Lyme & Tick-borne Diseases Research Center, the first university center for the study of Lyme disease in the U.S. The center, with the instrumental and ongoing support of Time for Lyme, Inc. and Lyme Disease Association, Inc., will bring together a multi-disciplinary team of CUMC’s physician-scientists and the latest advances in medical technology to help unravel the complexities of Lyme and tick-borne diseases.


Symposium topics & speakers will include:

Lyme Disease in the United States Today: Charles Ben Beard, PhD, head of vector borne diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Severity of Illness & Misdiagnosis: Mary McDonnell, two-time Academy Award nominee, star of “Battlestar Galactica,” “Independence Day” and “Dances With Wolves,.” spokesperson for Lyme Disease Association, Inc. 

Controversial Diagnostic & Treatment Guidelines: Brian Fallon, MD, MPH, director of Lyme and Tick-borne Disease Research Center at Columbia University Medical Center

Identification of Unknown Pathogens in Ticks: W. Ian Lipkin, MD, PhD, director of the Greene Infectious Disease Laboratory, Mailman School of Public Health, and Rafal Tokarz, PhD, post-doc investigating other human diseases caused by ticks

Neuroimaging of Chronic Lyme Disease: James Moeller, PhD, research scientist and functional neuroimaging expert.

WHEN: Monday, April 30, 2007, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Press availability from 1:15 p.m. to 2 p.m. or by arrangement with press officers.

WHERE: Columbia University Medical Center/New York State Psychiatric Institute, 1051 Riverside Drive, Hellman Auditorium, 1st floor, subway: A/C/1 to 168th St.

WHY: 
• Lyme disease is the fastest growing vector borne, or organism-transmitted, disease in the United States.
• The burden of Lyme disease profoundly affects New York state and its immediate neighbors:
     1. New York state accounts for 24 percent of all cases of Lyme disease reported to the CDC annually, with the annual incidence rate over the last 3 years increasing by 15 percent.
     2. New York state with its neighboring states of N.J., Conn., and Pa. accounted for 64 percent of all cases of Lyme disease reported to the CDC last year.
     3. May to August are the peak months for contracting Lyme disease.
• Lyme disease when diagnosed and treated early is rarely a problem. When early 
diagnosis is missed, the manifestations can be diverse and the treatment more
complex, with some patients developing chronic symptoms with functional
impairment comparable to that caused by congestive heart failure.
• The treatment of patients with Lyme disease is currently mired in controversy due to conflicting and limited research, resulting in confusion for both patients and doctors.

The Lyme & Tick-borne Diseases Research Center will focus on clinical research aimed at developing novel therapies, basic science to unravel disease mechanisms and to identify better diagnostic tests, and education of both medical students and physicians on how to best evaluate and treat patients. This is the first such center in the United States and in its focus on the particular problems faced by patients with chronic persistent symptoms will lead the country in research to bring the light of science to many unanswered and controversial questions. 

• Two new research projects will be announced at the center opening, one a multi-institutional diagnostic research project involving Columbia University Medical Center, the National Institutes of Health, the University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey, and the U.S. Department of Energy and the second involving the neuropathology of Lyme disease which includes a brain bank for autopsy specimens from patients with neurologic Lyme disease. 
• Results from a recently completed PET imaging study of chronic Lyme disease will be discussed by Columbia researchers. This work highlights ways in which functional brain imaging can be used to identify biomarkers with potentially valuable diagnostic and treatment implications for patients with chronic Lyme disease. 
• For more information on Lyme disease research at Columbia University Medical Center, visit: http://www.columbia-lyme.org/.

The Scientific Advisory Board for the Columbia Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases Research Center brings together internationally-renowned scientists, including Dr. Claire Fraser (led the team that mapped the Borrelia Genome), Dr. Janis Weis (pathogenesis of Lyme arthritis), Dr. John Mann (translational neuroscience), Dr. Steven Schutzer (novel diagnostic tests), Dr. Ian Lipkin (foreign pathogen identification), Dr. Jorge Benach (Borrelia and Coinfections), Dr. Scott Hammer (infectious disease), Dr. Diego Cadavid (neuropathology and neurology), Dr. Ronald Van Heertum (neuroimaging), and Dr. Aaron Mitchell (molecular pathogenesis).

14 November 2006

Health & Medical News Release
For Immediate Release 
contact: HJ Media 914-238-7197 

Local Lyme Disease Expert Critical Of New Treatment Guidelines 

(Nov. 14, 2006, Mount Kisco, NY) Dr. Daniel Cameron, a Mount Kisco internist and epidemiologist, and a respected expert in the study and treatment of patients with Lyme Disease, is criticizing the recently-released Lyme treatment guidelines published by the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA). He is not alone. 
Other professional medical organizations and the Lyme Disease Association are vehemently questioning the new guidelines as well.


Cameron says, “The guidelines are based on flawed assumptions. The guidelines recommend against treating Lyme disease patients more than once, possibly leaving them chronically ill.” 

The clinical assessment, treatment, and prevention of Lyme disease, human granulocytic anaplasmosis, and babesiosis: Clinical practice guidelines by the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), is co-authored by Dr. Gary Wormser, chief of the division of infectious diseases at Westchester Medical Center and the affiliated New York Medical College in Valhalla. The last IDSA guidelines were published in 2000. 

During his two decades in the county, Cameron has seen Lyme as a growing epidemic locally and throughout the northeast. He has seen the number of patients needing long-term treatment increase steadily increasing.

“It’s amazing to me that Dr. Wormser and I can be seeing patients from the same pool of people and have a totally different take on this disease. I am truly concerned for the people of Westchester if someone associated with the region’s academic medical center is turning their backs on the realities and complications of Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses,” says Cameron. 

The International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS), of which Cameron is a board member, has called for a retraction of the guidelines. Cameron is the lead author of ILADS’ Evidence-based guidelines for the management of Lyme disease, published in 2004. 

Seen as another accepted standard of care for tick-borne disease, the ILADS guidelines call for long-term treatment with antibiotic therapies for persistent Lyme disease or co-infection complications. According to ILADS, Lyme disease testing is more often than not inaccurate and it is up to the doctor to make a clinical diagnosis. A clinical diagnosis is one based on the physician’s evaluation of the patient, his symptoms, and knowledge of the disease. 

The IDSA, on the other hand, says Lyme must be diagnosed by a visible rash and/or common two-tiered blood tests, is easily treated with standard 21 to 28 days of antibiotics. and even questions the existence of chronic Lyme disease. Earlier guidelines and the CDC stated that Lyme disease is a “clinical diagnosis,” supported by 
lab testing. The new IDSA guidelines do an about face. 

Cameron reminds his colleagues, “there is no test to measure the disease infecting a patient, only a measure of antibody response which can be compromised by the action of the bacteria itself.” 

Cameron has just published a paper refuting assumptions by one of the quoted references in the IDSA guidelines, and has had another Lyme-related study accepted and about to be published by another peer-reviewed journal. 
 
In Generalizability in two clinical trials of Lyme disease in the current issue of Epidemiologic Perspectives & Innovations. Cameron’s “Analytic Perspective” takes aim at a commonly-cited study on long-course treatment of patients with Lyme disease. Simply known as “Klempner, et al. trials,” published in the New 
England Journal of Medicine
in 2001, this small study has been generalized in medical literature and certainly by insurance companies to be the be-all proof that 12 weeks of antibiotics for sick patients does not help. Cameron pulls apart the science of the study, and makes it clear that the study is not useful when dealing with a broader population. 

His concern, like that of many of his colleagues, is that Guidelines published by America’s large professional organizations are often seen by the medical community at large, by insurers and the Centers of Disease Control (CDC) of the National Institutes for Health, as the final word on treatment. And the wording in this one leaves very little room for the clinical diagnosis of the disease. 

“The IDSA guidelines do not offer an answer for the thousands of individuals with Lyme disease left with a poor quality of life after their 21 to 30 days of treatment,” says Cameron. 

Even if the blood tests were 100 percent accurate they cannot be performed on a patient for 4 to six weeks after onset – which may cause a treatment delay and its possible consequences. 

Cameron’s next article to be published has been accepted by the Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice. Consequences of Treatment Delay in Lyme Disease, a research letter, discusses “the poor outcome after treatment delay (of 4 wks to 8 yrs in his study group) supports the hypothesis that treatment delay is a major risk factor for developing chronic Lyme disease.” 

Again, this study flies in the face of the IDSA guidelines. 
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Lyme Disease is America’s most common and fastest growing vector-borne disease. The spiral-shaped bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb), which causes Lyme Disease, can be spread by the bite of ticks carried by birds, deer, house pets and rodents. It can be transmitted through human blood and from mother to child in utero. According to the CDC, “Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system. Lyme disease is diagnosed based on symptoms, physical findings (e.g., rash), and the possibility of exposure to infected ticks; laboratory testing is helpful in the later stages of disease.” 

(It should be noted that human granulocytic anaplasmosis (HGA) was formerly known as human granulocytic ehrlichiosis (HGE) or its common name, ehrlichiosis.) 

Dr. Cameron is a member of the IDSA and ILADS, and is an attending physician at Northern Westchester Hospital, Mount Kisco, NY. 
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For more information on Daniel Cameron, MD, please go to Lymeproject.com  or email HJMedia@wallapix.com

Lyme Disease Association, Inc.
PO Box 1438, Jackson, NJ 08527 

888-366-6611 | information line
732-938-7215 | fax
LDA@LymeDiseaseAssociation.org | email

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