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The University of Sherbrooke wants to tackle Lyme disease

The University of Sherbrooke wants to tackle Lyme disease

Professor Carignan, known for his numerous media interventions as a specialist in microbiology and infectious diseases, says he has been working on establishing this chair since 2018.

This will have the official name “Research Chair in Lyme Disease and Emerging Infections” and will have “the main goal of improving care, providing earlier diagnosis, and treating patients more quickly to reduce long-term consequences,” explains Professor Carignan.

“There is the other aspect, which is improving the knowledge of health professionals and the public. Given the recent emergence of this disease, there are many professionals who have never encountered Lyme disease before.

According to his colleagues, Alex Carignan is the ideal person to carry out these tasks.

“It takes a champion. It takes someone who can carry this vision for years […]. “Alex is that carrier, that champion,” says Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Professor Dominique Dorion.

But the main party involved says it is focused on developing its chair, which is scheduled to begin work on this summer. At the same time, Professor Carignan adds that he can count on a diverse team to help him accomplish his chair's mission.

“When I start a project, its goal is always to change something directly for the patient, improving their outcomes and care,” he emphasizes.

Patients will also be followed by the new president's team to try to identify factors that contribute to the development of Lyme disease or that protect some people.

Tip of the iceberg”

But beyond Lyme, Alex Carignan and his colleagues will be interested in tick-borne diseases in general.

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“Lyme disease is kind of like the tip of the iceberg. This is what we see, this is what touches us, but there are a lot of things coming. With global warming, tick populations are migrating further and further north, and we find ourselves at the heart of the emergence of different pathogens that are transmitted Through ticks.

According to him, we must be more proactive in adapting to these new pathogens. “This is what we want to do with our chair,” he said.

Tick-associated pathogens will be increasingly present in Quebec in the coming years.

On Tuesday, the Quebec Lyme Disease Association noted that Estrie was the region most affected by the condition in Quebec. About 60% of the cases in the province are recorded in the district.

Treatments remain embryonic. Currently, rapid diagnosis helps limit the serious consequences of the disease, but a lack of knowledge means that many cases are discovered too late.

“It is true that current treatments have certain limitations. The key at the moment is early treatment, which minimizes the consequences,” says Alex Carignan.

The CHUS Foundation and the University of Sherbrooke Foundation contributed financially to the establishment of this new research chair.