Very recently, the first commercially available Borrelia culture test was made available by Advanced Laboratory Services. Dr. Joe Burrascano consulted with the lab to make this a reality. It will take some time to see how the test is received by conventional medicine, the political players in the Lyme arena, insurance companies, and others, but this could be a game-changer.
Many of the tests used today in Lyme disease, such as the Western Blot, are antibody tests. These require a functional immune system to have a positive test result. The Borrelia culture test is an antigen test looking for actual organisms. PCR testing is also an antigen test but has very low sensitivity and generally yields false negative results.
Borrelia cultures such as this are based on the work of heroes such as Lida Mattman, Alan MacDonald, and Eva Sapi.
Here are some additional details I have collected from speaking with the lab and various other sources:
- They like for people to be off their antimicrobial therapies for four weeks. If people are still being treated, it could increase the risk of a false negative or may just take them longer to culture.
- Antimicrobials can cause Borrelia to move into other forms. When in other forms, the culture may take longer, but should still identify Borrelia organisms if present.
- There are two levels of testing. They do the basic culture for both the Basic and Extended. They will also do ImmunoStaining. If the patient wants PCR and sequencing, that is Extended.
- They have had good sensitivity results with positive and negative controls. They have been able to culture organisms even with very small amounts. It is often a matter of time.
- The ImmunoStaining is at the genus level. Sequencing should be able to narrow down to specific type of Borrelia.
- With the culture, one could expect to see positive results in 7-10 days but it could take up to 4 weeks.
- The basic culture is below 500 dollars. The extended culture is still being worked out.
- The lab is patient pay. They do not take insurance.
- Patients cannot order kits. Kits will be sent to doctors at no charge.
- The test is available now in California. The only states where it is not yet available are New York and Florida. These should be coming in the next weeks to months.
- The lab is only culturing blood at this time. No other fluids or tissues.