Genetic testing is detecting Pathogens in irritating blood-sucking Insects

Ticks are patient. They can sit tight in the soil for up to two years and lie in wait there for their victim. If they attach themselves once to human tissue, then they can transfer dangerous pathogens. Above all, the risk of becoming infected with Lyme disease after being bitten by a tick has increased dramatically. For this reason, BioSolutions from Halle is one of only a few facilities in the state that offers a quick test for those affected. Within 36 hours, you will know whether the ticks are infected. A decisive advantage, as treatment can then be initiated just as quickly and effectively.

It is tick season again. The summer months are the tiny arachnids’ peak season. The employees of BioSolutions at the Technologiepark Weinbergcampus in Halle can feel it too. The company, founded in 1998, is an affiliated institute of Martin-Luther-Universität and operates a specialist laboratory for molecular diagnostic investigations. Each year, between May and September, the number of inquiries increases from people who have been bitten by ticks and now want to know whether they are at risk.

BioSolutions can help them. For almost two years, the company has offered a quick test for those affected. Information about this can be found in medical practices throughout the region, as well as downloaded from the internet. The procedure is extremely simple: The tick is removed from the body and stuck to a sheet of paper using sticky tape. Information about the tick bite must be filled in on the attached request form. Both are then posted to BioSolutions. In the laboratory there, the genetic make-up of the bothersome arachnid is then examined. The DNA of the tick and the pathogens contained therein are isolated and bred with molecular biological methods. After 36 hours, a reliable result can be seen, which is then sent to the GP.

The ticks can be examined in the laboratory for various bacterial pathogens, especially Lyme disease, but a test for spring-summer meningoencephalitis is also possible. The speed of BioSolutions is a decisive advantage. As, with conventional methods, the detection of Lyme disease in human blood is only possible after several weeks. Only then are the appropriate antibodies detectable in the blood. However, earlier detection can be advantageous, particularly for pregnant ladies, senior citizens and at-risk patients. Ultimately, treatment can be started earlier as a result, which considerably improves the chances of healing.

“For this reason, the test is absolutely recommended,” says BioSolutions boss, Dr. Reinhard Paschke. The reason: The infestation of ticks with Lyme disease pathogens has constantly increased in the past few years. Various studies have also proven this. The number of new infections each year in Germany is estimated to be between 50,000 and 100,000.

While previously it was predominantly regions in Southern Europe which were classified as dangerous, the whole of Germany is now categorised as an at-risk region. Added to this: “The erythema migrans rings around the bite that are typical for an infection with Lyme disease only actually occur in about 60 percent of cases,” explains Paschke. In reverse, this means: Even tick bites that look harmless can be serious for people. Because Lyme disease is a bacteria which can trigger a huge range of symptoms in the body. Visual disturbances can occur, together with neurological blackouts or joint pain, which is then often misdiagnosed as rheumatism.

The multitude of possible symptoms also carries the risk that the Lyme disease will only be recognised when it has already manifested in the body. “The disease can only be recovered from well when it is recognised early on,” says Paschke, who confirms an increase in the tick tests at his company. “Between ten and twenty percent of the ticks we examine are actually infected with Lyme disease,” says the managing director. This does not mean that the infection is forced to be passed onto people, but the knowledge of an infected tick offers the advantage that the patient can undergo a specific examination at the doctor’s.

BioSolutions is one of just a few companies in Saxony-Anhalt offering the test. As an individual health service, it costs about 35 Euros and is not covered by health insurance companies. Reinhard Paschke: “It is the only option to have clarity for the patient in an early stage of the infection. And that is important. Because, unrecognised, Lyme disease can also break out years later with unspecific symptoms and even lead to paralysis in extreme cases.

Text: Ines Godazgar

BioSolutions Halle GmbH
PD Dr. habil. Reinhard Paschke
Weinbergweg 22
06120 Halle (Saale)
ph: +49 345 5559963