Projects Infectious Disease Epidemiology
Differences in structure, modification and availability of antigens are fundamental driver to distinguish immune responses induced either by natural infection or by vaccination. The plausibility of this basic assumption has been verified in the successfully development of a differential serology for the Hepatitis A Virus. We are collaborating with Joop van der Heuvel (HZI) and Ulrich Kalinke (TWINCORE) to evaluate the discriminatory power of three structurally different antigens comprising a virus like particle , a single hepatitis B surface protein (representing the vaccine) and inactivated virus. The group of antigens will be tested on an already established set of reference sera. In addition, this synthetic biology-approach enables a unique retrospective genotyping of HBV infections, based on a genotype-specific HBV surface protein.
Here, we developed a serological multiplex assay that allows the differentiation of HepE-IgG-positive from HepE-IgG-negative serum samples. As a next step, we are projecting to extend the test sample repertoire to include serum samples from vaccinated individuals. The aim here is initially the establishment of a differential serology to verify vaccination efficacy. The latter is necessary to develop a complete hepatitis panel to investigate the full spectrum of vaccine-preventable viral hepatitides on population level eventually.
We develop and evaluate devices for self-sampling of study participants that aim to be less invasive, cost-effective, simple in use, transport-stable, and safe. These are based on novel or tailored preservation and stabilisation methods accompanied by user-friendliness. The collection methods are being developed from the initial idea to an applicable concept in collaboration with experts from various disciplines including natural and engineering sciences.