Direct capture and early detection of Lyme disease spirochete in skin with a microneedle patch

Kight E, Alfaro R, Gadila SKG et al. Biosensors (Basel) 2022;12(10):819

Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato family of spirochetes causes Lyme disease (LD) in animals and humans. As geographic territory of ticks expands across the globe, surveillance measures are needed to measure transmission rates and provide early risk testing of suspected bites. The current standard testing of LD uses an indirect two-step serological assay that detects host immune reactivity. Early detection remains a challenge because the host antibody response develops several weeks after infection. A microneedle (MN) device was developed to sample interstitial fluid (ISF) and capture spirochetes directly from skin. After sampling, the MN patch is easily dissolved in water or TE buffer, and the presence of spirochete DNA is detected by PCR. Performance was tested by spiking porcine ear skin with inactivated Borrelia burgdorferi, which had an approximate recovery of 80% of spirochetes. With further development, this simple direct PCR method could be a transformative approach for early detection of the causative agent of Lyme disease and enable rapid treatment to patients when infection is early, and numbers of systemic spirochetes are low.