Playing a role in scientific advancements

July 19, 2021

Advanced Materials Technologies, F. S. R. Silva et al.

CRISPR (Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats)-based diagnostic technologies have emerged as a promising alternative to accelerate delivery of SARS-CoV-2 molecular detection at the point of need. However, efficient translation of CRISPR-diagnostic technologies to field application is still hampered by dependence on target amplification and by reliance on fluorescence-based results readout. Herein, an amplification-free CRISPR/Cas12a-based diagnostic technology for SARS-CoV-2 RNA detection is presented using a smartphone camera for results readout. This method, termed Cellphone-based amplification-free system with CRISPR/CAS-dependent enzymatic (CASCADE) assay, relies on mobile phone imaging of a catalase-generated gas bubble signal within a microfluidic channel and does not require any external hardware optical attachments. Upon specific detection of a SARS-CoV-2 reverse-transcribed DNA/RNA heteroduplex target (orf1ab) by the ribonucleoprotein complex, the transcleavage collateral activity of the Cas12a protein on a Catalase:ssDNA probe triggers the bubble signal on the system. High analytical sensitivity in signal detection without previous target amplification (down to 50 copies µL−1) is observed in spiked samples, in ≈71 min from sample input to results readout. With the aid of a smartphone vision tool, high accuracy (AUC = 1.0; CI: 0.715 – 1.00) is achieved when the CASCADE system is tested with nasopharyngeal swab samples of PCR-positive COVID-19 patients.

November 23, 2020

ACS Nano, Ahmed Shokr et al.

Deep-learning (DL)-based image processing has potential to revolutionize the use of smartphones in mobile health (mHealth) diagnostics of infectious diseases. However, the high variability in cellphone image data acquisition and the common need for large amounts of specialist-annotated images for traditional DL model training may preclude generalizability of smartphone-based diagnostics. Here, we employed adversarial neural networks with conditioning to develop an easily reconfigurable virus diagnostic platform that leverages a dataset of smart phone taken microfluidic chip photos to rapidly generate image classifiers for different target pathogens on-demand. Adversarial learning was also used to augment this real image dataset by generating 16,000 realistic synthetic microchip images, through style generative adversarial networks (StyleGAN). We used this platform, termed smartphone-based pathogen detection resource multiplier using adversarial networks (SPyDERMAN), to accurately detect different intact viruses in clinical samples and to detect viral nucleic acids through integration with CRISPR diagnostics. We evaluated the performance of the system in detecting five different virus targets using 179 patient samples. The generalizability of the system was confirmed by rapid reconfiguration to detect SARS-CoV-2 antigens in nasal swab samples (n = 62) with 100% accuracy. Overall, the SPyDERMAN system may contribute to epidemic preparedness strategies by providing a platform for smartphone-based diagnostics that can be adapted to a given
emerging viral agent within days of work.

April 18, 2019

International Journal of Molecular Science , Bergamaschi et al.

The mosquito-borne viral disease caused by the Dengue virus is an expanding global threat. Diagnosis in low-resource-settings and epidemiological surveillance urgently requires new immunoprobes for serological tests. Structure-based epitope prediction is an efficient method to design diagnostic peptidic probes able to reveal specific antibodies elicited in response to infections in patients' sera. In this study, we focused on the Dengue viral envelope protein (E); computational analyses ranging from extensive Molecular Dynamics (MD) simulations and energy-decomposition-based prediction of potentially immunoreactive regions identified putative epitope sequences. Interestingly, one such epitope showed internal dynamic and energetic properties markedly different from those of other predicted sequences. The epitope was thus synthesized as a linear peptide, modified for chemoselective immobilization on microarrays and used in a serological assay to discriminate Dengue-infected individuals from healthy controls. The synthetic epitope probe showed a diagnostic performance comparable to that of the full antigen in terms of specificity and sensitivity. Given the high level of sequence identity among different flaviviruses, the epitope was immune-reactive towards Zika-infected sera as well. The results are discussed in the context of the quest for new possible structure-dynamics-based rules for the prediction of the immunoreactivity of selected antigenic regions with potential pan-flavivirus immunodiagnostic capacity.

February 11, 2019

College of American Pathologists, Huang et al.
CONTEXT: Delta-like protein 3 (DLL3) is a protein that is implicated in the Notch pathway. OBJECTIVE:To present data on DLL3 prevalence in small cell lung cancer and staining characteristics of the VENTANA DLL3 (SP347) Assay. In addition, the assay's immunoreactivity with other neoplastic and nonneoplastic tissues is outlined. DESIGN: Individual formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded specimens of small cell lung cancer and tissue microarrays comprising neoplastic and nonneoplastic tissues were procured. Sections were cut and stained with DLL3 (SP347) assay. The slides were examined to determine prevalence, staining characteristics, and immunoreactivity. RESULTS: Cytoplasmic and/or membranous staining was observed in 1040 of 1362 specimens of small cell lung cancer (76.4%). Homogenous and/or heterogeneous and partial and/or circumferential granular staining with varied intensities was noted. Immunoreactivity was also observed in other neoplastic and nonneoplastic tissues. CONCLUSIONS: Our study findings provided the profile of DLL3 staining characteristics that can be used for determining the level of DLL3 expression in small cell lung cancer.

January 31, 2019

United States Patent, Lipkin et al.
This invention relates to compositions and methods for the differential detection of multiple viruses using a one - step assay . The viruses to be detected include Zika , West Nile , dengue ( genotype 1 - 4 ) and chikungunya viruses . In particu lar , the invention relates to a method of and assay for differential detection of the viruses using specific primers and probes designed to detect and differentiate between the viruses .

April 27, 2018

Biotechnology, Myhrvold et al.

Mitigating global infectious disease requires diagnostic tools that are sensitive, specific, and rapidly field deployable. In this study, we demonstrate that the Cas13-based SHERLOCK (specific high-sensitivity enzymatic reporter unlocking) platform can detect Zika virus (ZIKV) and dengue virus (DENV) in patient samples at concentrations as low as 1 copy per microliter. We developed HUDSON (heating unextracted diagnostic samples to obliterate nucleases), a protocol that pairs with SHERLOCK for viral detection directly from bodily fluids, enabling instrument-free DENV detection directly from patient samples in <2 hours. We further demonstrate that SHERLOCK can distinguish the four DENV serotypes, as well as region-specific strains of ZIKV from the 2015–2016 pandemic. Finally, we report the rapid (<1 week) design and testing of instrument-free assays to detect clinically relevant viral single-nucleotide polymorphisms.

April 17, 2018

bioRxviv, Semenova et al.
Zika virus (ZIKV) infections are an emerging health pandemic of significant medical importance. ZIKV appeared recently in the Americas from Africa via the South Pacific. The current outbreak has garnered attention by exhibiting unique characteristics of devastating neurodevelopmental defects in newborns of infected pregnant women. Current guidelines for ZIKV diagnostics developed by the Center of Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) consist of nucleic acid testing, plaque reduction neutralization test (PRNT), and a serologic test for IgM detection. To better accommodate and comply with these guidelines, we developed a simultaneous on-chip detection of ZIKV and anti-ZIKV antibodies using an array of nanowells. Using on-chip microengraving, we were able to detect anti-ZIKV antibodies and their immunoglobulin isotypes. In parallel, applying on-chip real-time PCR with epifluorescence microscopy, we were able to quantify ZIKV viral load as low as one copy. To test clinical samples of patients at the post convalescent stage, we analyzed samples from 8 patients. The on-chip nanowells could effectively identify antibodies that reacted against ZIKV envelope protein and their isotypes with high sensitivity and specificity. The small sample requirement with high specificity and sensitivity and combined molecular and serological tests could potentially be very advantageous and beneficial in accurate detection of Zika infection for better disease monitoring and management.

March 25, 2018

Wiley , Gencay et al.
An important requirement for a state- of- the- art hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) screening assay is reliable detection of mutated HBsAg. Currently, there is a striking shortage of data regarding the detection rates of in vivo HBsAg mutations for these clinically important assays. Therefore, we compared the detection rates of four commercial HBsAg screening assays using a global cohort of 1553 patients from four continents with known HBV genotypes. These samples, which represent the broadest spectrum of known and novel HBsAg major hydrophilic region (MHR) mutations to date, were analyzed for the presence of HBsAg using the Roche Elecsys® HBsAg II Qualitative, Siemens ADVIA Centaur XP HBsAg II, Abbott Architect HBsAg Qualitative II and DiaSorin Liaison® HBsAg Qualitative assays, respectively. Of the 1553 samples, 1391 samples could be sequenced; of these, 1013 (72.8%) carried at least one of the 345 currently known amino acid substitutions (distinct HBsA mutation) in the HBsAg MHR. All 1553 patient samples were positive for HBsAg using the Elecsys® HBsAg II Qual assay, with a sensitivity (95% confidence interval) of 99.94% (99.64%- 100%), followed by the Abbott Architect 99.81% (99.44%- 99.96%), Siemens ADVIA 99.81% (99.44%- 99.96%) and DiaSorin Liaison® 99.36% (98.82%- 99.69%) assays, respectively. Our results indicate that the Elecsys® HBsAg II Qual assay exhibits the highest sensitivity among the commercial HBsAg screening assays, and demonstrate that its capacity to detect HBV infection is not compromised by HBsAg MHR mutants.

March 9, 2018

International Journal of Legal Medicine, Ludeman et al.
The GlobalFiler™ PCR Amplification Kit is a single multiplex assay that amplifies a set of 24 markers, which encompass the European Standard Set and CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) recommended composite set of loci. In addition to more loci and a 6-dye chemistry format, the Master Mix has been formulated to allow higher sample loading volume for trace DNA samples. The GlobalFiler™ Kit has been optimized to deliver high performance on casework samples, while also delivering fast thermal cycling, with an amplification time of approximately 80 min. Here, we report the results of the developmental validation study which followed the SWGDAM (Scientific Working Group on DNA Analysis Methods) guidelines and includes data for PCR-based studies, sensitivity, species specificity, stability, precision, reproducibility and repeatability, concordance, stutter, DNA mixtures, and performance on mock casework samples. The results validate the multiplex design as well as demonstrate the kit's robustness, reliability, and suitability as an assay for human identification with casework DNA samples.

May 4, 2017

PLOS One , Gencay et al.
The diversity of the hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) has a significant impact on the performance of diagnostic screening tests and the clinical outcome of hepatitis B infection. Neutralizing or diagnostic antibodies against the HBsAg are directed towards its highly conserved major hydrophilic region (MHR), in particular towards its “a” determinant subdomain. Here, we explored, on a global scale, the genetic diversity of the HBsAg MHR in a large, multi-ethnic cohort of randomly selected subjects with HBV infection from four continents. A total of 1553 HBsAg positive blood samples of subjects originating from 20 different countries across Africa, America, Asia and central Europe were characterized for amino acid variation in the MHR. Using highly sensitive ultra-deep sequencing, we found 72.8% of the successfully sequenced subjects (n = 1391) demonstrated amino acid sequence variation in the HBsAg MHR. This indicates that the global variation frequency in the HBsAg MHR is threefold higher than previously reported. The majority of the amino acid mutations were found in the HBV genotypes B (28.9%) and C (25.4%). Collectively, we identified 345 distinct amino acid mutations in the MHR. Among these, we report 62 previously unknown mutations, which extends the worldwide pool of currently known HBsAg MHR mutations by 22%. Importantly, topological analysis identified the “a” determinant upstream flanking region as the structurally most diverse subdomain of the HBsAg MHR. The highest prevalence of “a” determinant region mutations was observed in subjects from Asia, followed by the African, American and European cohorts, respectively. Finally, we found that more than half (59.3%) of all HBV subjects investigated carried multiple MHR mutations. Together, this worldwide ultra-deep sequencing based genotyping study reveals that the global prevalence and structural complexity of variation in the hepatitis B surface antigen have, to date, been significantly underappreciated.

December 15, 2016

Eurosurveillance, Steinhagen et al.
Serological diagnosis of Zika virus (ZIKV) infections is challenging due to high cross-reactivity between flaviviruses. We evaluated the diagnostic performance of a novel anti-ZIKV ELISA based on recombinant ZIKV non-structural protein 1 (NS1). Assay sensitivity was examined using sera from 27 patients with reverse transcription (RT)-PCR-confirmed and 85 with suspected ZIKV infection. Specificity was analysed using sera from 1,015 healthy individuals. Samples from 252 patients with dengue virus (n = 93), West Nile virus (n = 34), Japanese encephalitis virus (n = 25), chikungunya virus (n = 19) or Plasmodium spp. (n = 69) infections and from 12 yellow fever-vaccinated individuals were also examined. In confirmed ZIKV specimens collected ≥ 6 days after symptom onset, ELISA sensitivity was 58.8% (95% confidence interval (CI): 36.0–78.4) for IgM, 88.2% (95% CI: 64.4–98.0) for IgG, and 100% (95% CI: 78.4–100) for IgM/IgG, at 99.8% (95% CI: 99.2–100) specificity. Cross-reactivity with high-level dengue virus antibodies was not detected. Among patients with potentially cross-reactive antibodies anti-ZIKV positive rates were 0.8% (95% CI: 0–3.0) and 0.4% (95% CI: 0–2.4) for IgM and IgG, respectively. Providing high specificity and low cross-reactivity, the NS1-based ELISA has the potential to aid in counselling patients, pregnant women and travellers after returning from ZIKV-endemic areas.

April 19, 2016

United States Patent, Faatz et al.
The invention concerns soluble variants of Treponema palli dum antigen 47 (TpN47 antigen) comprising at least domain B, or at least domains A and B, optionally domain D of the complete TpN47 protein molecule with the proviso that all antigens lack domain C (amino acid residues 224 to 351) of TpN47. The Tpn47 antigens can be fused to a chaperone. Moreover, the invention covers DNA encoding the antigens, a method of producing these antigens as well as the use of these antigens in an immunodiagnostic assay for the detection of antibodies against Treponema pallidum in an isolated sample.

April 1, 2015

PLOS One , Qui et al.
Genotyping of hepatitis C virus (HCV) plays an important role in the treatment of HCV. As new genotype-specific treatment options become available, it has become increasingly important to have accurate HCV genotype and subtype information to ensure that the most appropriate treatment regimen is selected. Most current genotyping methods are unable to detect mixed genotypes from two or more HCV infections. Next generation sequencing (NGS) allows for rapid and low cost mass sequencing of viral genomes and provides an opportunity to probe the viral population from a single host. In this paper, the possibility of using short NGS reads for direct HCV genotyping without genome assembly was evaluated. We surveyed the publicly-available genetic content of three HCV drug target regions (NS3, NS5A, NS5B) in terms of whether these genes contained genotype-specific regions that could predict genotype. Six genotypes and 38 subtypes were included in this study. An automated phylogenetic analysis based HCV genotyping method was implemented and used to assess different HCV target gene regions. Candidate regions of 250-bp each were found for all three genes that have enough genetic information to predict HCV genotypes/subtypes. Validation using public datasets shows 100% genotyping accuracy. To test whether these 250-bp regions were sufficient to identify mixed genotypes, we developed a random primer-based method to sequence HCV plasma samples containing mixtures of two HCV genotypes in different ratios. We were able to determine the genotypes without ambiguity and to quantify the ratio of the abundances of the mixed genotypes in the samples. These data provide a proof-of-concept that this random primed, NGS-based short-read genotyping approach does not need prior information about the viral population and is capable of detecting mixed viral infection.

May 31, 2015

PLOS One , Friborg et al.
Peginterferon lambda-1a (Lambda), a type III interferon (IFN), acts through a unique receptor complex with limited cellular expression outside the liver which may result in a differentiated tolerability profile compared to peginterferon alfa (alfa). In Phase 2b clinical studies, Lambda administered in combination with ribavirin (RBV) was efficacious in patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection representing genotypes 1 through 4, and was associated with more rapid declines in HCV RNA compared to alfa plus RBV. To gain insights into potential mechanisms for this finding, we investigated the effects of HCV replication on IFN signaling in primary human hepatocytes (PHH) and in induced hepatocyte-like cells (iHLCs). HCV infection resulted in rapid down-regulation of the type I IFN-α receptor subunit 1 (IFNAR1) transcript in hepatocytes while the transcriptional level of the unique IFN-λ receptor subunit IL28RA was transiently increased. In line with this observation, IFN signaling was selectively impaired in infected cells upon stimulation with alfa but not in response to Lambda. Importantly, in contrast to alfa, Lambda was able to induce IFN-stimulated gene (ISG) expression in HCV-infected hepatocytes, reflecting the onset of innate responses. Moreover, global transcriptome analysis in hepatocytes indicated that Lambda stimulation prolonged the expression of various ISGs that are potentially beneficial to antiviral defense mechanisms. Collectively, these observed effects of HCV infection on IFN receptor expression and signaling within infected hepatocytes provide a possible explanation for the more pronounced early virologic responses observed in patients treated with Lambda compared to alfa.

September 29, 2014

AAC, Liu et al.
BMS-791325 is a hepatitis C virus (HCV) inhibitor binding to the thumb domain of the NS5B RNA-dependent RNA polymerase. BMS791325 is well characterized in genotype 1 (GT1) and exhibits good inhibitory activity (50% effective concentration [EC50], <10 nM) against hybrid replicons containing patient NS5B sequences from GT3a, -4a, and -5a while potency against GT2 is significantly reduced (J. A. Lemm et al., Antimicrob. Agents Chemother. 58:3485–3495, 2014, doi: BMS-791325 potency against GT6a hybrid replicons is more variable, with two of three hybrid clones having EC50s similar to that for GT1 while a third patient clone was 10 times less susceptible to BMS-791325. To characterize the resistance profile of BMS-791325 beyond GT1, curing studies were performed across GT1a and -3a to -6a and demonstrated that GT1a has the highest resistance barrier versus BMS791325 while GT6a has the lowest. Selection of GT3 to -6 NS5B chimeric replicon cells at different concentrations of BMS-791325 revealed substitutions in the thumb domain of NS5B at residues 494 and 495 that conferred different levels of resistance to BMS-791325 but remained susceptible to NS5A or NS3 protease inhibitors. In addition, we demonstrate that the reduced potency of BMS-791325 against one GT6a patient is due to an A494 polymorphism present in 21% of sequences in the European HCV database. The results from this report suggest that BMS-791325 is a candidate for combination treatment of HCV GT3 to -6 chronic infections, and the resistance profiles identified will provide useful information for future clinical development.

June 16, 2014

AAC, Wang et al.
A comparison of the daclatasvir (DCV [BMS-790052]) resistance barrier on authentic or hybrid replicons containing NS5A from hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotypes 1 to 6 (GT-1 to -6) was completed using a replicon elimination assay. The data indicated that genotype 1b (GT-1b) has the highest relative resistance barrier and genotype 2a (GT-2a M31) has the lowest. The rank order of resistance barriers to DCV was 1b > 4a > 5a > 6a 1a > 2a JFH > 3a > 2a M31. Importantly, DCV in combination with a protease inhibitor (PI) eliminated GT-2a M31 replicon RNA at a clinically relevant concentration. Previously, we reported the antiviral activity and resistance profiles of DCV on HCV genotypes 1 to 4 evaluated in the replicon system. Here, we report the antiviral activity and resistance profiles of DCV against hybrid replicons with NS5A sequences derived from HCV GT-5a and GT-6a clinical isolates. DCV was effective against both GT-5a and -6a hybrid replicon cell lines (50% effective concentrations [EC50s] ranging from 3 to 7 pM for GT-5a, and 74 pM for GT-6a). Resistance selection identified amino acid substitutions in the N-terminal domain of NS5A. For GT-5a, L31F and L31V, alone or in combination with K56R, were the major resistance variants (EC50s ranging from 2 to 40 nM). In GT-6a, Q24H, L31M, P32L/S, and T58A/S were identified as resistance variants (EC50s ranging from 2 to 250 nM). The in vitro data suggest that DCV has the potential to be an effective agent for HCV genotypes 1 to 6 when used in combination therapy

April 14, 2014

AAC, Lemm et al.
BMS-791325 is an allosteric inhibitor that binds to thumb site 1 of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) NS5B RNA-dependent RNA polymerase. BMS-791325 inhibits recombinant NS5B proteins from HCV genotypes 1, 3, 4, and 5 at 50% inhibitory concentrations (IC50) below 28 nM. In cell culture, BMS-791325 inhibited replication of HCV subgenomic replicons representing genotypes 1a and 1b at 50% effective concentrations (EC50s) of 3 nM and 6 nM, respectively, with similar (3 to 18 nM) values for genotypes 3a, 4a, and 5a. Potency against genotype 6a showed more variability (9 to 125 nM), and activity was weaker against genotype 2 (EC50, 87 to 925 nM). Specificity was demonstrated by the absence of activity (EC50s of >4 M) against a panel of mammalian viruses, and cytotoxic concentrations (50%) were >3,000-fold above the HCV EC50. Resistance substitutions selected by BMS-791325 in genotype 1 replicons mostly mapped to a single site, NS5B amino acid 495 (P495A/S/L/T). Additive or synergistic activity was observed in combination studies using BMS-791325 with alfa interferon plus ribavirin, inhibitors of NS3 protease or NS5A, and other classes of NS5B inhibitor (palm site 2-binding or nucleoside analogs). Plasma and liver exposures in vivo in several animal species indicated that BMS-791325 has a hepatotropic disposition (liver-to-plasma ratios ranging from 1.6- to 60-fold across species). Twenty-four hours postdose, liver exposures across all species tested were >10-fold above the inhibitor EC50s observed with HCV genotype 1 replicons. These findings support the evaluation of BMS-791325 in combination regimens for the treatment of HCV. Phase 3 studies are ongoing.

May 3, 2014

International Journal of Oncology , Riahi et al.
Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) have been shown in many studies as a possible biomarker for metastasis and may be instrumental for the spread of the disease. Despite advances in CTC capturing technologies, the low frequency of CTCs in cancer patients and the heterogeneity of the CTCs have limited the wide application of the technology in clinic. In this study, we investigated a novel microfluidic technology that uses a size- and deformability-based capture system to characterize CTCs. This unique platform not only allows flexibility in the selection of antibody markers but also segregates the CTCs in their own chambers, thus, enabling morphological, immunological and genetic characterization of each CTC at the single cell level. In this study, different breast cancer cell lines including MCF7, MDA-MB-231 and SKBR3, as well as a panel of breast cancer biomarkers were used to test the device. The technology can capture a wide range of cells with high reproducibility. The capturing efficiency of the cells is greater than 80%. In addition, the background of leukocytes is minimized because individual cells are segregated in their own chambers. The device captured both epithelial cancer cells such as MCF7 and SKBR3 and mesenchymal cells such as MDA-MB-231. Immunostaining of the captured cells on the microchannel device suggests that a panel of breast cancer biomarkers can be used to further characterize differential expression of the captured cells.

January 21, 2012

Open Journal of Forestry, Peña-Ramírez et al.
Cedrela odorata is a tropical tree widely appreciated for its wood. Commercial plantations are frequently hampered by the attack of the meliacea borer, Hypsipyla grandella, and the lack of resistant varieties. C. odorata traditional breeding would consume very long periods of time, thus direct transfer of entomotoxic coding genes to generate resistant varieties is a promising alternative. There are two prerequisites for gene manipulation of this species: 1) to set the conditions for transgene delivery and 2) to have a way to select regenerating transformed plants. In this paper, we report the optimal biolistics conditions for transient expression of uidA and gfp reporter genes in C. odorata somatic embryos and the selective doses for kanamycin, spectinomycin, phosphinotrycin and hygromycin to screen transformed cells.