Chemistry alumna Dr. M. Josie Corby to give talk at UWM

Special BioSci Colloquium: Friday October 7, 4 PM Lapham N101

Students are invited to meet the speakers for a Career Forum from 3-4pm in Lapham 185

Abbott Global Surveillance Program, virus hunting, infectious disease research and diagnostics

Mary A. Rogers

Both fascinating and deadly, the continuous evolution and divergence of viral pathogens remain a constant threat to the advances that have been made in combatting infectious diseases; namely diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines. All of these tools rely upon viral sequence conservation to maintain effectiveness, making all of them prone to failures when viruses mutate. Therefore, the comprehensive spectrum of viral genetic diversity must be accounted for in the design and evaluation of diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines targeting these and other divergent viruses. The consequences of an incomplete consideration of viral diversity include false negative diagnostic results, underquantification of viral load levels, vaccine breakthrough infections, treatment failures, and ultimately poor control of infectious diseases. These paramount needs were recognized over 28 years ago when the Abbott Global Surveillance Program (AGSP) was established in 1994 with the goal of characterizing HIV diversity to improve the performance of diagnostic tests. The program was founded from decades of leadership in infectious disease diagnostics that began with Abbott’s first test for HBV in 1972 and the first FDA-approved test for HIV in 1985. The AGSP has since expanded to include hepatitis viruses and SARS-CoV-2, collecting more than 100,000 clinical specimens from 46 different countries on 6 continents through collaborations with leading healthcare organizations like hospitals, blood banks, research institutions, and public health agencies. Access to the data generated by the program has been democratized for the benefit of all researchers through deposition of more than 5000 new viral sequences into public databases and 152 peer reviewed publications. Furthermore, the AGSP sequences and specimens serve as the foundation for the development of infectious disease diagnostic assays that can tolerate viral diversity, which serve as our critical first line of defense in the efforts to contain and eliminate HIV, viral hepatitis, and SARS-CoV-2. As the only diagnostic test manufacturer with such a unique long-standing and large-scale surveillance program, Abbott provides a vital tool to stay ahead of these dynamic viruses.

Discovery and Characterization of Nanobodies Directed Against SARS-COV-2 Nucleocapsid for Use in Diagnostic Assays

Josie Corby

At the beginning of the SARS-COV-2 pandemic there was an urgent need for antigen tests that could be completed quickly and easily without specialized equipment. A key part of any diagnostic antigen test is a specific, high-affinity antibody. To discover antibodies for use in the development of a SARS-COV-2 lateral flow test, a phage display campaign using a synthetic camelid VHH library against the nucleocapsid antigen was performed. Several high-affinity VHHs were isolated, re-formatted, expressed, and purified. The VHHs were tested in both the lateral flow format and in a solution-based sandwich assay on the core lab instrument. The performance of the VHHs was comparable to that of the full length IgGs and FAbs on the core lab instrument. VHH phage libraries represent an exciting new avenue for discovery of antibodies for use in diagnostic assays.