Queen’s Professor to lead $4 million-dollar Lyme disease research initiative

University selected to launch multi-disciplinary research network

Kieran Moore will spearhead the research project.
Credit: 
Supplied by Kieran Moore

On Oct. 15, The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Federal Government announced Queen’s will be spearheading an interdisciplinary research project tasked with addressing Lyme disease.

The research project will work toward the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of Lyme disease and will include over 40 research partners, ranging from scientists and researchers to patients.

Queen’s professor Kieran Moore will lead the project and a team of researchers in the search to minimize risks for Lyme disease in Canada.

Moore and his team will conduct research through a series of collaborations with other researchers across the country, examining the role of Lyme disease in public health, clinical practice, and systems of policy.

“Essentially this project was created amongst many researchers to provide an evidence-based network exploring the science around Lyme disease,” Moore said.

In an interview with The Journal, he said the research is highly collaborative, featuring partnerships with patients and academic institutions nationwide to respond to the rising threat of Lyme disease. 

According to Statistics Canada, reports of Lyme disease across the country have more than doubled in the past three years, with cases rising from 992 in 2016 to 2025 in 2017.

“Our goal is to go from the bedside of the patient, to the laboratory … and straight back to the bedside where we can improve diagnostics, treatment, and outcome,” Moore said.

He added Lyme disease is an infectious disease caused by a form of bacteria carried by ticks. The disease gives rise to symptoms such as rashes, fevers, headaches, and fatigue.

If left without immediate treatment, individuals may potentially suffer lifelong effects such as arthritis, neurological problems, and heart disorders.

Immediate actions taken by Moore’s team will be to identify the patients who are diagnosed with acute Lyme disease, and subsequently follow their progress for a period of two years.

“With the generosity of the patients, we will be able to track [their] progress through various blood samples, urine tests, and pictures of the rash,” Moore said.  

He said the team’s research will be unique, and rely on a variety of backgrounds to analyze the disease.  

“This will be the first network to establish a multi-disciplinary network addressing Lyme disease,” Moore said. “This type of longitudinal linked record at a country-wide level hasn’t been done anywhere else on the globe. This project really goes coast to coast in terms of our partnerships.”

Moore said the funding provided by the CIHR will allow the team to quickly advance the scientific foundation of Lyme disease related research.

The funding will additionally allow the team to create the first foundational resources on a national scale for the study of Lyme disease to be accessed from around the country.

“There’s been very little research about Lyme disease in Canada because we don’t have this foundational resource,” Moore said.  

What makes the new network so significant to the investigation in Lyme disease, Moore said, is the wide range of expertise that will play a key role in developing research and experimentation.

“With professional expertise in a wide range of areas, we finally have the resources to look at improving diagnostic testing on individuals in Canada,” Moore said. “We really are quite enthused about building the capacity in Canada, and helping patients have a better understanding and treatment in Lyme disease.”

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