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University receives $150,000 to find Lyme disease treatment

11:23 pm by | 1 Comments

WEST HAVEN -- The University of New Haven has received a $150,000 grant from Lymedisease.org for research into the tick-borne illness, according to a press release.

About $100,000 has been used to buy an atomic force microscope, which Eva Sapi, associate professor of biology and environmental science, will use to study bacterial structure, the release said. It was built to her specifications.

Sapi, who once contracted Lyme disease, focuses her research on the antibiotic sensitivity of Lyme disease bacteria.

According to UNH, Sapi has shown that the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, which causes Lyme disease, can form a "biofilm that allows it to hide and resist antibiotic treatments and other unfavorable environmental conditions such (as) nutrition deprivation, high ambient pH or adverse temperature."

About $50,000 of the grant will be used to further Sapi's research into biofilm formation and finding therapies for Lyme disease, UNH said.

"This microscope will allow Dr. Sapi and our students to further this important research," said Lourdes Alvarez, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, in the release. "Contributions like this help enormously to fund studies that eventually could lead to a cure."

The atomic microscope will be used by about 15 undergraduate and graduate researchers in Sapi's program and by other UNH scientists and students studying cancer.

"There is so much work to be done on Borrelia, which has caused disease in all 50 states," said Sapi. "Having access to this microscope will improve efficiency and further our investigation into how Lyme disease evades antibiotics. ...

"We want to better understand Borrelia biofilm development so we can develop strategies to eliminate it," Sapi said. "We also would like to know where this biofilm forms in the body."

LymeDisease.org, founded in 1989, supports research, advocacy and education into Lyme disease.

Have questions, feedback or ideas about our news coverage? Connect directly with the editors of the New Haven Register at AskTheRegister.com. ___

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