DEVELOPMENT OF ANTIBODIES AND CHARACTERISATION OF THE HUMORAL IMMUNE RESPONSES IN A SURROGATE ANIMAL MODEL FOR HEPATITIS C VIRUS (HCV)
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Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection has become a global public health concern with over 130 million people chronically infected and over 350,000 deaths every year from HCV-related liver diseases. GB virus-B (GBV-B) infection in tamarins is a surrogate model for acute HCV infection. Whilst HCV infection commonly leads to chronicity, GBV-B is naturally cleared. To better understand this natural clearance, this project aimed to study the associated humoral immune response to GBV-B. Additionally, GBV-B-specific antibodies were produced with the aim of characterising the pathology of the virus. Previously, there was no available GBV-B neutralisation assay to identify antibodies in this animal model. Therefore, a GBV-B neutralisation assay, based on a method that is known to be successful for the closely-related HCV, was developed. This method involved producing pseudotyped retroviral particles (PV) expressing the GBV-B envelope that could infect a human hepatocarcinoma cell line. GBV-B PV production was confirmed by western blotting. Future studies can now test archived tamarin sera in this assay for the presence of neutralising antibodies. Neutralising antibodies found through this model could be epitope mapped, and incorporated into HCV vaccine design strategies. To study the pathology of GBV-B infection, GBV-B-specific antibodies were also produced using two techniques in parallel- classical hybridoma technology and ribosome display. Antibodies targeting the nucleocapsid core protein of GBV-B have been previously detected in tamarins and served as the target for production of GBV-B antibodies using both aforementioned technologies. GBV-B core-specific antibodies were successfully isolated using both technologies and can now be used in downstream techniques, such as immunohistochemistry, to characterise the pathology of GBV-B infection thereby further validating the use of the animal model.
AuthorsPearce, Emma St Clair
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