How Coppe Laboratories helps patients and families
Getting the best treatment possible often depends upon determining the type of infection and reporting those results in a timely fashion. Better testing leads to better treatment choices which may improve quality of life.
Coppe Laboratories is a specialized diagnostic laboratory that provides laboratory tests with emphasis on the interaction between infection and immunity. Our scientists have a long standing history of studying viral and other infectious diseases and their impact on the immune response, and have extensive publications.
Our Specialized Tests
HHV-6 in Infertility
Human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) is suspected to be involved in several types of gestational complications, including miscarriage and premature birth. Studies have shown that HHV-6 can be found in 43% of women with unexplained infertility. The ability of an HHV-6 infection to disrupt the environment of the uterus and development of the unborn baby may result in infertility and pregnancy loss.
Coppe Laboratories’ offers the most sensitive method for detection of HHV-6 in uterine tissue samples. With the growing evidence of an association between HHV- 6 and infertility, we recommend testing all patients experiencing unexplained infertility, repeated implantation failures and multiple miscarriages.
Risks of Arthropod-borne Infection During Pregnancy
It is a widely-known fact that Zika virus infection during pregnancy places the unborn baby at risk of developing birth defects. Recent studies have shown that Zika may not be the only virus that can cause abnormalities in babies born to infected mothers. The other closely-related viruses that may pose a risk are mosquito-borne West Nile virus and tick-borne Powassan virus. Studies have shown that these viruses have the ability to cause mild to severe brain damage in the babies of mice infected during pregnancy. Powassan and West Nile virus were also found capable of infecting human placental tissue samples.
Coppe Laboratories offers testing for West Nile virus and the only commercially-available tests for Powassan. The CDC recommends pregnant women who suspect they may have had exposure to Zika virus be screened at each prenatal visit. Coppe Laboratories is the only commercial lab that offers prenatal screening for tests for West Nile and Powassan virus in the US.
Another recent paper examined two case studies of Babesia infection passed from pregnant mother to baby. In both cases, the mothers had Lyme disease during the second trimester of pregnancy, were treated with antibiotics and recovered. The babies were born full term, with no evidence of Lyme complications. Unfortunately, before birth both babies contracted Babesia from their mothers’ undiagnosed Babesia infections, necessitating a 5-10 day hospital stay for each infant in order to receive necessary treatment. Any woman with a suspected tick exposure during pregnancy should be tested for Lyme disease, Babesia and Powassan to avoid risk of birth defects and complications for newborns.
A Guide to the Powassan Virus
The Powassan Guide is a primer on the Powassan virus.
Transmitted by the tick known to carry Lyme disease bacteria, the Powassan virus (POWV) is a member of the family of viruses that include such familiar names as Zika, West Nile, Yellow Fever, and Dengue Fever. Until now, only a few state laboratories and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were testing for POWV. Coppe Laboratories is the first reference laboratory to provide the testing.
POWV symptoms bear similarities to Lyme disease symptoms. Fatigue, headache, and general flu-like symptoms are seen within 2–7 days of exposure. Sometimes high fevers can occur. The initial viremic stage is followed by 2–3 weeks of a symptom-free period. Encephalitis can develop. Because symptoms associated with POWV closely resemble those of Lyme disease, the virus may be overlooked – yet directly contribute to disease long term.
Coppe Laboratories performs both direct (PCR) and indirect (serology) testing for POWV. A blood test is all that is required. Test results are usually available in under 14 days.
Lyme Disease: How and What We are Looking For
Physicians are usually responsible for ordering testing for Lyme disease, but patients may also make an inquiry. When Lyme disease is suspected, testing occurs a few weeks after tick exposure. This is because Lyme panels test antibodies, which don’t appear in the blood until 4-6 weeks after the tick bite.
Lyme disease is spread by a tick bite which may go unnoticed or result only in a painless rash. Identifying the early signs and seeking treatment early reduces the severity of the disease and the duration of the symptoms.
The recommended testing for Lyme disease uses a two-step approach. The first blood test is a screening test that uses enzyme-linked immunoabsorbent assay (often called ELISA) to measure antibodies caused by the infection. If the result from this test is positive or indeterminate, a second, more specific blood test (on the same blood sample) is run to confirm the results.
Coppe Laboratories’ Lyme testing checks for the most important strains and species of the bacteria. Results are provided within five business days after the receipt of sample.
In addition to offering the most comprehensive Lyme tests on the market, Coppe also offers co-infection testing for the most relevant agents transmitted by the deer tick. Our complete Tick-borne Disease Panel includes testing for the bacterial agent Anaplasma, previously known as human granulocytic ehrlichiosis (HGE), the protozoan Babesia microti and the only commercially-available panel of tests for Powassan virus.
As the symptoms of tick-borne disease are practically indistinguishable clinically, quality laboratory testing is essential to determining a treatment plan with the best chance for success.
HHV-6 in relation with Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, inflammatory, demyelinating disease of the central nervous system (CNS). The origin of MS is still unclear despite the many studies that have been conducted. Viruses have long been implicated as contributory factors in MS and may play a role at the onset of symptoms, during the development of the disease, and may trigger the exacerbations that are commonly seen with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS).
Human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) is one of the viral agents implicated in MS, and relapses can range from very mild to severe enough to interfere with a person’s ability to function on a day-to-day basis. Our CEO, Dr. Konstance Knox, was among the first scientists to identify HHV-6 infected cells in the brains of persons with MS and correlate HHV-6 reactivation with clinical relapse in MS patients. The virus is widely prevalent in the human population, and primary infection usually takes place in the first years of life. However, the virus remains latent and only reactivates under certain conditions.
Coppe Laboratories’ commercial assays are highly sensitive and specific in detecting viral expression that signals active infection. Our testing also looks at the subset of patients that carry an inherited form of the virus (ciHHV-6). Coppe Laboratories is currently the only reference laboratory offering this testing.
- Debue, S, et al; Future Virology, 2012: 7(9) The Long and Evolving Relationship Between Viruses and Multiple Sclerosis
- Owens G. et al; Neuroscientist December 2011 17: Viruses and Multiple Sclerosis
- Knox, K. et al; Clin Infect Dis. (2000) 31 (4) Human Herpesvirus 6 and Multiple Sclerosis: Systemic Active Infections in Patients with Early Disease
HHV-6 in relation to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
Several studies have indicated HHV-6 as a trigger for the syndrome. Although the role of HHV-6 in chronic fatigue syndrome is an area of ongoing investigation, (reference) HHV-6 reactivation and various degrees of central nervous system dysfunction have been observed in CFS sufferers. In both MS and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) patients, increased levels of the HHV-6 antibody, presence of viral DNA and alterations in host cellular immune response have been reported.
- Komoroff AL, J Clin Virol. 2006 Dec;37 Is human herpesvirus-6 a trigger for chronic fatigue syndrome?