Research update for improving diagnostics for Tick-Borne Disease.
Diagnostic tests based on the detection of DNA from harmful organisms in clinical samples have revolutionized veterinary medicine in the last decades. Currently, diagnostic panels for several vector-borne diseases (VBDs) are available through universities and private labs in the USA and abroad. However, the vast majority of results from sick dogs are negative, which frustrates veterinarians and dog owners trying to reach a definitive diagnosis. These panels are based on the detection of previously known DNA sequences of each pathogen, which limits their ability to detect novel organisms. Using an innovative approach, our study proposes the adaptation of high-throughput nextgeneration sequencing (NGS) to the detection of tick-borne bacteria in dog blood to overcome the limitations of the current diagnostics. NGS is capable of generating millions of individual sequencing reads from each sample, allowing for the unbiased identification and characterization of multiple organisms from a single sample. With support from the AKC Canine Health Foundation, we are pioneering this strategy for the accurate detection of VBDs. With the advances in DNA sequencing of entire genomes of microorganisms, we are using cutting-edge techniques to identify regions of the genome that can be used for better detection and characterization of vector-borne organisms. In parallel, we continue to test the MolYsisTM technology, which has demonstrated to reduce host DNA concentration in infected dog blood samples confirmed by quantitative PCR assay. The AKC-CHF support has been instrumental for the development of better diagnostic tools in veterinary medicine.