NASA Tournament Lab contract aims to drive breakthroughs in more accurate Lyme diagnosis.
Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne disease in the United States. An estimated 476,000 Americans are diagnosed and treated for Lyme each year — but the true number of infections is unknown, partially due to the limitations of serological testing. Lyme disease symptoms vary from patient to patient, and if the bacterial infection is left untreated, the disease can progressively worsen and become harder to eradicate. Early diagnosis is critical.
The Lyme Innovation Accelerator (LymeX), an innovation partnership between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation, is identifying, developing, and implementing advancements in Lyme disease care — including next-generation diagnostics.
Earlier this year, we conducted a market analysis on behalf of LymeX. Our research identified barriers to Lyme diagnostic innovation and uncovered opportunities to use open innovation as a mechanism to overcome those barriers. The process for developing a new Lyme diagnostic test requires ideation, development, validation, approval, and market implementation, enabled by progressive levels of funding. At each step in this process, test developers have historically faced barriers and challenges, which have stifled innovation. Despite the progress made since the discovery of Lyme disease’s microbiological origins, experts still do not fully understand the pathology of the disease in humans. The genome of Lyme spirochetes has been described as the most complex of all bacteria, and experts agree that developing tests for active infection is extremely difficult.
This month, we’re delighted to announce that our work on this important problem will continue: Luminary Labs has been awarded a contract through the NASA Tournament Lab to design a diagnostics moonshot for LymeX. The multiyear, multiphase competition will incentivize the development of next-generation diagnostics, with the ultimate goal of an FDA-approved, direct diagnostic test.
Each year, 3 million blood specimens are tested for Lyme disease in the U.S. As the geographic range of ticks, mosquitoes, and fleas that can transmit pathogens and cause disease has expanded within the United States, the need for diagnostic innovation will only become more urgent. Better diagnostics yield better information, which yields better decisions and responses. If we can measure a problem and understand how big it is, we’re one step closer to solving it. Luminary Labs is honored to support prize competitions and innovation accelerators, including LymeX, on behalf of HHS and its partners.
Learn more: Watch for new federal prizes on the Challenge.gov website, follow LymeX on Twitter, explore LymeX collaboration opportunities, or email LymeInnovation@hhs.gov for more information. You can also hear more about LymeX at the sixth annual LymeMIND conference on October 23; the virtual event is free and open to the public.