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Ticks and Lyme disease – Completion of a new study

Established in 2005 and based in Roslin in Midlothian, Xeroshield is a life sciences company dedicated to the development of products and services for the control of insects known to carry dangerous diseases that are transmissible to humans.

As you may already be aware, Lyme borreliosis is a tick-borne illness which, without prompt treatment, can cause debilitating long-term human health problems including nervous damage and psychological alterations. Ticks are prevalent in Scotland and most commonly found in wooded or bushy areas or amongst heather and bracken. They attach themselves to the skin of a host and feed on its blood. Ticks infected with Lyme borreliosis can transmit the disease to their host during the feeding process.

Xeroshield is currently exploring the development of an innovative device for the removal of ticks from humans and pets, combined with a laboratory service for the detection of Lyme disease in ticks collected and immobilised using this device. We recently secured funding from the UK Technology Strategy Board to undertake a study to explore whether there would be a potential market for such a product and service.

Consisting of background research, a public survey, semi-structured interviews, case studies and more detailed focus group discussions, Xeroshield’s study has identified strong interest from the public (particularly those at high risk of exposure to ticks) in paying for a more effective tick removal device as well as Xeroshield’s proposed laboratory service.

A summary report has been prepared providing an overview of the key conclusions of the study. These include the identification of some potentially significant public health and economic benefits arising from the commercialisation of Xeroshield’s proposed technology:

  • More effective tick removal leading to reduced risk of infection;
  • Rapid testing of removed ticks for the Lyme disease organism, enabling quicker and more accurate diagnosis and treatment;
  • Creation of a suitable test sample of ticks to enable an accurate estimate of the percentage of ticks in Scotland that are carrying Lyme disease and the geographical spread of the disease;
  • Reducing the significant long-term cost of Lyme disease to the Scottish economy by ensuring rapid treatment and thereby reducing the number of chronic cases of the disease;
  • Opportunities for the technology to be patented and developed in Scotland and subsequently to be exported across Europe and North America – as well as to other countries worldwide that are affected by life-threatening tickborne diseases.  

The full summary report can be downloaded by visiting the following web address and clicking on the relevant link: www.xerolyme.wordpress.com.

Xeroshield is now actively seeking support and funding to be able to progress its technology to the next stage of development and would welcome any input you may have in this regard.

In the meantime, if you have any specific questions relating to the findings of the study or would like to arrange a meeting to discuss the issue in further detail, please do not hesitate to contact Bruce Alexander, Managing Director This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

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