January 21, 2004

High Throughput Vaccine and Diagnostic Antigen Discovery

Dr. Douglas Molina, ImmPORT Therapeutics, Irvine, CA

Two decades after the eradication of naturally occurring smallpox, the threat of bioterrorism has once again brought smallpox to the forefront. The smallpox vaccine, an attenuated vaccinia virus, is currently not available to the general public, and those who are vaccinated face serious health risks. Finding a vaccine that protects and poses none of the health risks requires a comprehensive study of the entire vaccinia proteome. Smallpox has a relatively small proteome, approximately 200 proteins, but cloning and expressing all the proteome remains a bottleneck. To address this, a high throughput PCR recombination and expression platform that allows for hundreds of genes to be cloned and expressed using ordinary laboratory procedures has been developed. The translated proteins can then be displayed on a nitrocellulose microarrays without further purification. The arrays can then be used to profile the humoral immune response to infection and unmask vaccinia specific responses.