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Measles is a contagious, vaccine-preventable disease that continues to be the leading
cause of death in children younger than the age of 5 years. While the introduction of the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella vaccine (MMR) has significantly decreased morbidity and mortality rates worldwide, vaccine coverage is highly variable across global regions. Current diagnostic methods rely on enzyme immunoassays (EIA) to detect IgM or IgG Abs in serum. Commercially available Diamedix Immunosimplicity® Measles IgG test kit has been shown to have 91.1% sensitivity and 93.8% specificity, with a positive predictive value of 88.7% and a negative predictive value of 90.9% on the basis of a PRN titer of 120. There is an increasing need for rapid screening for measles specific immunity in outbreak settings. This study aims to develop a rapid molecular diagnostic assay to detect IgG reactive to three individual measles virus (MeV) proteins.
Measles virus (MeV) genes were subcloned into the pJFT7_nGST vector to generate N- terminal GST fusion proteins. Single MeV cistrons were expressed using in vitro transcription/translation (IVTT) with human cell lysate. Expression of GST-tagged proteins was measured with mouse anti-GST mAb and sheep anti-mouse IgG. Relative light units (RLUs) as luminescence was measured. Antibodies to MeV antigens were measured in 40 serum samples from healthy subjects.
Protein expression of three MeV genes of interest was measured in comparison with vector control and statistical significance was determined using the Student’s t-test (p<0.05). N expressed at the highest level with an average RLU value of 3.01 x 109 (p<0.001) and all proteins were expressed at least 50% greater than vector control (4.56 x 106 RLU). 36/40 serum samples had IgG to N (Ag:GST ratio>1.21), F (Ag:GST ratio>1.92), or H (Ag:GST ratio> 1.23).
These data indicate that the in vitro expression of MeV antigens, N, F, and H, were markedly improved by subcloning into pJFT7_nGST vector to generate N-terminal GST fusion proteins. The expression of single MeV genes N, F and H, are suitable antigens for serologic capture analysis of measles-specific antibodies. These preliminary data can be used to design a more intensive study to explore the possibilities of using these MeV antigens as a diagnostic marker.
This project aims to address the current protocol regarding the diagnosis and treatment of traumatic brain injury (TBI) in medical industries around the world. Although there are various methods used to qualitatively determine if TBI has occurred to a patient, this study attempts to aid in the creation of a system for quantitative measurement of TBI and its relative magnitude. Through a method of artificial evolution/selection called phage display, an antibody that binds highly specifically to a post-TBI upregulated brain chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan called neurocan has been identified. As TG1 Escheria Coli bacteria were infected with KM13 helper phage and M13 filamentous phage in conjunction, monovalent display of antibody fragments (ScFv) was performed. The ScFv bind directly to the neurocan and from screening, phage that produced ScFv's with higher affinity and specificity to neurocan were separated and purified. Future research aims to improve the ScFv characteristics through increased screening toward neurocan. The identification of a highly specific antibody could lead to improved targeting of neurocan post-TBI in-vivo, aiding researchers in quantitatively defining TBI by visualizing its magnitude.
Background: Measles virus (MV) infections are the main cause of vaccine-preventable death in children younger than 5 years. The World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated there are over 20 million cases of measles every year. Currently, diagnostic methods rely on enzyme immunoassays (EIA) to detect IgM or IgG Abs in serum. These commercial assays measure reactivity against the immunodominant N antigen and can have a false negative rates of 20-30%. Centralized testing by clinical labs can delay rapid screening in an outbreak setting. This study aims to develop a rapid molecular diagnostic assay to detect IgG reactive to five individual MV proteins representing 85% of the measles proteome. Methods: MV genes were subcloned into pANT_cGST vector to generate C-terminal GST fusion proteins. Single MV cistrons were expressed using in vitro transcription/translation (IVTT) with human cell lysate. Expression of GST-tagged proteins was measured using a sandwich ELISA for GST expression using relative light units (RLUs) as readouts. Single MV antigens were used as bait to determine the IgG-dependent reactivity in 12 serum samples obtained from immunized animals with previously determined neutralization titer (NT) and the correlation between NT and ELISA reactivity was determined. Results: Protein expression of five measles genes of interest, M, N, F, H, and L, was measured. L exhibited the strongest protein expression with an average RLU value of 4.34 x 10^9. All proteins were expressed at least 50% greater than control (2.33 x 10^7 RLU). As expected, reactivity against the N was the highest, followed by reactivity against M, F, H and L. The best correlation with NT titer was reactivity against F (R^2 = 0.62). Conclusion: These data indicate that the expression of single MV genes M, N, F, H, and L are suitable antigens for serologic capture analysis of measles immunity.
Background: The human papillomavirus (HPV) is the cause of virtually all cervical cancer, with over 520,000 new cases and 275,000 deaths annually. Although there are at least 200 unique HPV strains, only “high-risk” types, may progress to cancer. Serum antibodies to HPV oncoproteins are stable and specific markers that may be able to detect high-grade cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN3). Biomarkers have potential as a rapid, point-of-care HPV screening tool for low resource areas in the way that traditional cytology cannot, and HPV DNA testing is not yet able to.
Methods: We have designed a multiplexed magnetics programmable bead ELISA (MagProBE) to profile the immune responses of the proteins from 11 high-risk HPV types and 2 low-risk types—106 genes in total. HPV genes were optimized for human expression and either built with PCR or commercially purchased, and cloned into the Gateway-compatible pANT7_cGST vector for in vitro transcription/translation (IVTT) in a MagProBE array. Anti-GST antibody (Ab) labeling was then used to measure gene expression.
Results: 53/106 (50%) HPV genes have been cloned and tested for expression of protein. 91% of HPV proteins expressed at levels above the background control (MFI = 2288), and the mean expression was MFI = 4318. Codon-optimized genes have also shown a 20% higher expression over non-codon optimized genes.
Conclusion: Although this research is ongoing, it suggests that gene optimization may improve IVTT expression of HPV proteins in human HeLa lysate. Once the remaining HPV proteins have been expression confirmed, the cDNA for each gene will be printed onto slides and tested in serologic assays to identify potential Ab biomarkers to CIN3.
Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections are a major challenge to healthcare professionals. Treatment of MRSA is expensive, and otherwise avoidable deaths occur every year in the United States due to MRSA infections. Additionally, such infections lengthen patients’ stays in hospitals, keeping them out of work and adversely affecting the economy. Beta lactam antibiotics used to be highly effective against S. aureus infections, but resistance mechanisms have rendered methicillin, oxacillin, and other beta lactam antibiotics ineffective against these infections. A promising avenue for MRSA treatment lies in the use of synthetic antibodies—molecules that bind with specificity to a given compound. Synbody 14 is an example of such a synbody, and has been designed with MRSA treatment in mind. Mouse model studies have even associated Syn14 treatment with reduced weight loss and morbidity in MRSA-infected mice. In this experiment, in vitro activity of Syn 14 and oxacillin was assessed. Early experiments measured Syn 14 and oxacillin’s effectiveness in inhibiting colony growth in growth media, mouse serum, and mouse blood. Syn14 and oxacillin had limited efficacy against USA300 strain MRSA, though interestingly it was noted that Syn14 outperformed oxacillin in mouse serum and whole mouse blood, indicating the benefits of its binding properties. A second experiment measured the impact that a mix of oxacillin and Syn 14 had on colony growth, as well as the effect of adding them simultaneously or one after the other. While use of either bactericidal alone did not show a major inhibitory effect on USA300 MRSA colony growth, their use in combination showed major decreases in colony growth. Moreover, it was found that unlike other combination therapies, Syn14 and oxacillin did not require simultaneous addition to MRSA cells to achieve inhibition of cell growth. They merely required that Syn14 be added first. This result suggests Syn14’s possible utility in therapeutic settings, as the time insensitivity of synergy removes a major hurdle to clinical use—the difficulty in ensuring that two drugs reach an affected area at the same time. Syn14 remains a promising antimicrobial agent, and further study should focus on its precise mechanism of action and suitability in clinical treatment of MRSA infections.