Date of Completion

Summer 8-1-2008

Thesis Advisor(s)

Michael Lynes

Honors Major

Cell Biology


Cell and Developmental Biology | Cell Biology | Life Sciences | Other Cell and Developmental Biology


The set of host- and pathogen-specific molecular features of a disease comprise its “signature”. We hypothesize that biological signatures enables distinctions between vaccinated vs. infected individuals. In our research, using porcine samples, protocols were developed that could also be used to identify biological signatures of human disease. Different classes of molecular features will be tested during this project, including indicators of basic immune capacity, which are being studied at this instance.

These indicators of basic immune response such as porcine cytokines and antibodies were validated using Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). This is an established method that detects antigens by their interaction with a specific antibody coupled to a polystyrene substrate. Serum from naïve and vaccinated pigs was tested for the presence of cytokines. We were able to differentiate the presence of porcine IL-6 in normal porcine serum with or without added porcine IL-6 by ELISA. In addition, four different cytokines were spotted on a grating-coupled surface plasmon resonance imaging system (GCSPRI) chip and antibody specific for IL-8 was run over the chip. Only the presence of IL-8 was detected; therefore, there was no cross-reactivity in this combination of antigens and antibodies.

This system uses a multiplexed sensor chip to identify components of a sample run over it. The detection is accomplished by the change in refractive index caused by the interaction between the antibody spotted on the sensor chip and the antigen present in the sample.

As the multiplexed GCSPRI is developed, we will need to optimize both sensitivity and specificity, minimizing the potential for cross-reactivity between individual analytes. The next step in this project is to increase the sensitivity of detection of the analytes. Currently, we are using two different antibodies (that recognize a different part of the antigen) to amplify the signal emitted by the interaction of antibody with its cognate antigen.

The development of this sensor chip would not only allow to detect FMD virus, but also to differentiate between infected and vaccinated individuals, on location. Furthermore, the diagnosis of other diseases could be done with increased accuracy, and in less time due to the microarray approach.