Using Pan-Pathogen Microarrays and Deep Sequencing to Search for the Cause of Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness (STARI)

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Investigator: Charles Y. Chiu, MD, PhD
Sponsor: National Research Fund for Tick-Borne Disease

Location(s): United States

Description

The lone star tick, Amblyomma americanum, is the vector of the Lyme-like illness known as Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness, or STARI. Despite intensive efforts to identify a causative agent, researchers have so far been unable to isolate a microorganism that can be convincingly linked to the disease. Now, with NRFTD funding, Dr. Charles Chiu of the School of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco will employ a genomic approach in the form of a comprehensive microarray tool, called the TickChip, to search for tick-borne pathogens in both Amblyomma ticks and blood samples from patients diagnosed with STARI. Detailed molecular and epidemiological studies will then be performed in order to establish an association between possible infectious agents and the disease. Once the cause of STARI has been established, further research on the pathogen can be pursued and useful diagnostic tests can be developed to definitively distinguish STARI from Lyme disease.