Smith Presses For Aggressive Federal Action Plan To Help Lyme Disease Patients

After successfully pushing for record funding of the LymeX Innovation Accelerator Program, Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), the Chair of the Congressional Lyme Disease Caucus, has requested a meeting with the top official charged with overseeing the promising federal initiative to ensure an aggressive action plan is robustly implemented to advance critical diagnostics and treatments for Lyme disease patients.

“With growing case numbers and increasing geographic spread in Lyme disease, the demand for new tools and treatments for addressing Lyme is more urgent than ever,” Smith wrote in a letter to Dr. Kristen Honey, the Chief Data Scientist at the helm of LymeX at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

“The record $5 million provided for LymeX in FY 2024 presents a remarkable opportunity for taking new and bold action in accelerating developments in prevention, diagnosis, and treatment for Lyme disease,” wrote Smith, who worked closely with the grassroots Lyme community to successfully advocate for the record funding.

“To ensure that this funding is most effectively deployed in line with congressional intent, I respectfully request a meeting with you to discuss the specifics of the funding plan for the money awarded for FY 2024—and how Congress can best support and strengthen the LymeX program,” wrote Smith.

Established in 2018, LymeX has been instrumental in harnessing science and innovation to combat Lyme disease. In February, five winners were announced for Phase 2 of the LymeX Diagnostics Prize Competition, aimed at accelerating the development of accurate and reliable Lyme diagnostic testing. Phase 3 of the competition began in April and is focused on preparing these projects for eventual submission to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for review.

Additionally, Smith said he would like to discuss the key report issued by HHS in April outlining its multi-year plan for implementing LymeX and information on Lyme Innovation goals, activities and measurable metrics of success.

Requested by Congress, the report anticipates new research exploring the common clinical and biological factors between Lyme disease and other chronic conditions including COVID-19, multiple sclerosis and chronic fatigue syndrome. Additionally, HHS plans to host interactive workshops, webinars, and other events with members of the Lyme community and the public throughout the year to promote patient-centered innovation.

“As the Chair of the Congressional Lyme Disease Caucus, I remain committed to ensuring that we employ all federal resources possible towards fighting Lyme by advancing treatment and prevention and closing research gaps,” Smith said.

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