The Immunological Monitoring Laboratory monitors clinical trials of viral diseases, processes clinical specimens, and analyzes immune system responses. Our scientists perform cytokine analyses, determine viral loads, and quantify antigen-specific antibody levels in plasma from patients and nonhuman primates with bacterial and viral diseases. 

We work with colleagues at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, including the Medical Virology Section and the Lyme Disease Studies Unit. 

Clinical trial support and biorepository maintenance 

We support NIAID’s clinical trials and maintain an extensive biorepository for researchers. Our work provides insight into the mechanisms of viral diseases, which can suggest ways to lessen symptoms. We support studies of the natural history of the disease process, and we evaluate safety aspects in clinical trials and estimate disease frequency to inform researchers how patients’ immune systems are responding to therapies. 

A record of monitoring the immune system’s response

The Immunological Monitoring Laboratory supports clinical trials for a variety of diseases. In our work, we have: 

  • Developed a highly sensitive assay to measure Epstein-Barr virus in patients enrolled in an EBV vaccine trial.  

  • Optimized an assay to measure antigen-specific antibody levels in patients with Lyme disease.  

  • Developed a quantitative polymerase chain reaction protocol to distinguish the subspecies of the Lyme bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi versus Borrelia miyamotoi, in patients with Lyme disease. 

  • Monitored a trial of a herpes simplex virus 2 vaccine that was found to be safe and effective at eliciting neutralizing antibodies in people who had not previously been infected. 

  • Determined that specific biomarkers contributed to the selection of patients with autoimmune lymphoproliferative syndrome. 

  • Evaluated safety and estimated disease frequency in studies of respiratory syncytial virus A2. 

Currently, we are monitoring a nonhuman primate vaccine trial for cytomegalovirus, which is the predominant infectious cause of congenital birth defects and an opportunistic pathogen in immunosuppressed people, including people living with HIV/AIDS. We’re supporting studies of the natural history of the disease process.  


Our capabilities and specializations

Herpes simplex virus 

We monitor symptomatic patients infected with herpes simplex virus, which causes oral and genital herpes. Our laboratory evaluates differences in patient cytokine gene expression compared to asymptomatic people who are infected with HSV or people who have never been infected with the virus. We provide insights into the mechanisms of HSV disease, which may suggest ways to ameliorate symptoms. 

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  • Assessing various cytokine levels, especially IFN-α, which may identify signaling defects in HSV patients 

  • Detecting cytokines using the Luminex® multiplex platform  

  • Monitoring a human HSV vaccine study assessing the use of HSV-2 strain 186 dl5-29

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Biorepository processing and maintenance 

The laboratory processes and archives blood products from patients enrolled in numerous ongoing clinical trials at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center

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  • Plasma  

  • Cryopreserved peripheral blood mononuclear cells  

  • EBV-transformed B-cell lines  

  • DNA  

  • RNA