Zika: Harnessing plant power for rational design of immunogens for use in diagnostic assays

Lead Research Organisation: University of Nottingham

Abstract

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Technical Summary

Laboratory confirmation of Zika virus infection is complicated by cross-reactivity of antibodies
with other members of the same virus family. This includes Dengue virus, which is
transmitted by the same species of mosquito as Zika and therefore also infects people in the
same regions where Zika virus is currently emerging. Therefore, it is important to be able to
distinguish between antibodies that have been raised against a previously encountered virus
and antibodies that indicate a recent or current virus infection. A traditional approach to
address this problem, which also occurs for Dengue and Japanese encephalitis virus in Asia,
is to test for antibodies generated early in the response to infection (IgM) to two viruses in
parallel. The virus that gives the highest value in the MAC-ELISA is taken to be the most
recently encountered virus. In the past decade, plant-expression of proteins, including viruslike
particles, has really come of age. This powerful technology will be harnessed in the
current project to generate more specific diagnostic reagents to allow antibodies to Zika virus
to be distinguished from antibodies generated to other flaviviruses such as Dengue.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Joint PhD studentship with Moredun Institute 
Organisation Moredun Research Institute
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution This is a joint PhD student for which the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, University of Nottingham is contributing 50% of the student stipend, fees and consumables. I am directly supervising this student with Dr Kevin Gough, School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, University of Nottingham acting as secondary supervisor. The project is benefiting from experience gained during the previous award.
Collaborator Contribution This is a joint PhD student for which the Moredun Research Institute is contributing 50% of the student stipend, fees and consumables. The supervisor at the Moredun Research Institute is contributing samples, expertise and will host the student for part of the studentship.
Impact This PhD student appointed on this collaboration started in January 2018; significant progress has been made and a manuscript will be drafted later this year in parallel with drafting the thesis.
Start Year 2017