So we ask: What do you say to a research project that will tackle a trio of diseases that are escalating in both dogs and humans head on to better understand their relationships and develop a better diagnostic test? To a project that will yield results not in decades but in months? One that embodies the essence of translational studies in its ability to benefit animals AND humans? You would say...WHAT ARE WE WAITING FOR? Lets Build A Bridge...We. Can. Make. It. Happen. Right?
$10,000 was awarded by the Paws To People Board of Directors’ at today’s Board Meeting to fund a new and innovative examination of the incidence, distribution, and possible control of the co-transmission of dog tick fever (Anaplasmosis), canine hemorrhagic fever (Ehrlichia spp.), and Lyme disease (Borrelia burgdorferi). The goal is to develop an improved screening method for diagnosing these diseases in dogs. That is $10,000 that you helped raise to change the world.
The award, Paws To People’s historic first grant, has been made to Jennifer Mendell, Ph.D in microbiology at Bridgewater State University and Kimberly Suh, DVM of Marion Animal Hospital in Massachusetts.
These tick-borne bacterial diseases also afflict humans and are difficult to detect and treat. Currently the Northeast down through Florida and parts of California are experiencing a surge in the incidence of these diseases. Dr. Mendell explains the importance of her study, “Currently veterinarians are using diagnostic tools that rely on antibody (proteins produced by the host as part of the immune response) antigen (proteins found on the pathogen cell surface) interactions. Unfortunately, many of the antibody based diagnostic tools do not accurately diagnose active infections, as antibodies produced in response to these pathogens have been shown to persist for months and even years after initial infection. Additionally, the test for Elrichiosis and for Anaplasmosis is less sensitive; as such, many cases go unreported. Finally, several different species of both Anaplasma and Ehrilichia are known to infect both humans and canines.”
Focusing on data from Southeastern Massachusetts but with world-wide application, the project team will collect ticks and use a PCR based array to target specific species. This information could ultimately be used for a more robust and sensitive test to be developed to identify exposure to these pathogens.
Additionally, blood samples from dogs will be collected and those samples testing positive for these diseases will be interrogated using a new PCR based array to identify active infections in the dogs. This will reveal a better understanding of incidence and distribution of these diseases in dogs in Southeastern Massachusetts allowing for more effective prevention and education. At the same time identifying the number of active cases will promote development of better treatment plans and a quantitative understanding of the limitations of current testing methods.
We are on the way, together, of building a Bridge that will led to better health for dogs and humans. For the coming year, Paws To People has aimed at raising the bar so that we can make a $12,000 grant...we know that We. Can. Make. It. Happen.