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Lyme disease tests use whole borrelia cells as the source of antigen. These assays are difficult to standardize and to optimize for sensitivity and specificity. To help solve these problems, we constructed a library of recombinant chimeric proteins composed of portions of key antigens of Borrelia burgdorferi. These proteins were then used to develop an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. We compared our assay with the most sensitive of three whole-cell borrelia assays. We found that the recombinant assay could detect antibodies significantly better from early
Lyme disease sera (P<0.05), and had the same sensitivity for late
Lyme disease sera, as the most sensitive whole-cell borrelia assay. On potentially cross-reactive sera, the recombinant assay was more specific, but not significantly so, than the best whole-cell borrelia assay. Optimization of the recombinant assay offers the potential for a significant improvement in both sensitivity and specificity.