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Klemen Strle, Ph.D.
Klemen Strle, Ph.D.
Immunity and Pathogenesis of Tick-Borne Diseases: Lyme disease and beyond
Tick-borne diseases are a growing public health threat and pose a substantial burden on affected communities. Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne disease in the Northern Hemisphere and has now reached epidemic proportions in several locations in United States and Europe. The disease can present with a range of clinical manifestations that vary in severity and duration, including complications that persist despite antibiotic therapy, termed post-treatment Lyme disease symptoms / syndrome (PTLDS). However, the reasons for these differences in disease course and outcome are poorly understood.
Our laboratory conducts translational research in human immunology with a focus on Lyme disease. The work is centered on elucidating mechanisms that lead to protective or pathogenic immune responses and how such responses shape the clinical course and outcome of the disease in patients. In addition, we are determining how host and microbial (Borrelia burgdorferi) genetic factors modulate these responses. For this purpose, we are using the latest system-wide genomic and transcriptomic approaches in clinical samples, coupled with functional studies in cells and tissue, and then correlating this information with well-defined clinical information in patients. The goals of this work are to improve the understanding of disease pathogenesis, to develop novel diagnostic assays for early identification of patients at greater risk for severe disease, and to help guide more rational and effective treatment strategies for such patients. This work involves a multi-center collaboration with investigators across United States and Europe.
Current research projects in the laboratory:
- Host immunity: Characterization of cellular and humoral immune responses in patients with Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases to identify immune pathways associated with resolution or perpetuation of disease.
- Host genetics: Identification of host genetic determinants (single-nucleotide polymorphisms) in dysregulated immune responses and adverse clinical outcomes in Lyme disease.
- Microbial genetics: Genomic analysis of a large range of B. burgdorferi isolates from patients to define microbial determinants of maladaptive immune responses and adverse clinical outcomes.
Dr. Strle has received funding from the:
- National Institutes of Health / NIAMS
- National Institutes of Health / NIAID
- Global Lyme Alliance
- Arthritis Foundation
- ECOR / MGH