Magnotta Commits Further $1M for Lyme Disease Studies

With more ticks and tick bites occurring in Canada year after year, better diagnosis of Lyme disease is the
goal of renewed funding from the G. Magnotta Foundation for Vector-Borne Diseases for the G. Magnotta Lyme Disease Research Lab at U of G.

$1.2-million grant from the foundation to continue studying the bacterial pathogen and the disease it causes. The foundation’s initial investment of $1.4 million in 2017 helped to establish the lab in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology (MCB).

Beyond studying diagnostics, members of the lab aim to help improve disease treatment and prognosis for people infected with Lyme disease. “Our end goal is to improve patient outcomes,” said lab director Dr.
Melanie Wills.

The team is pursuing various projects, including learning about individuals’ responses to drug treatment and why the disease goes undiagnosed in some infected people. Wills is also obtaining tissues from people bitten by ticks to build a biobank used to identify biomarkers for Lyme disease.

Along with MCB professor Dr. Cezar Khursigara, she is also investigating the formation of bacterial clumps called biofilms that help the pathogen evade detection and treatment.

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