Immunological Monitoring Laboratory

Overview

The Immunological Monitoring Laboratory monitors clinical trials of viral diseases, processes clinical specimens, and analyzes immune system responses. 

The laboratory processes and archives blood products from patients enrolled in numerous ongoing clinical trials at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center. This extensive archive includes:  

  • Plasma 

  • Cryopreserved peripheral blood mononuclear cells 

  • Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-transformed B-cell lines 

  • DNA 

  • RNA 

This is a valuable resource for National Institutes of Health investigators to evaluate the effectiveness of various therapeutic regimens.  

We also perform cytokine analyses, viral load determinations, antigen-specific immunoglobulin levels on plasma, among others. from patients and nonhuman primates with a variety of 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

Innovations

  • Developed a highly sensitive ddPCR to measure EBV viral load in patients enrolled in a EBV vaccine trial. 

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

  • Developed a qPCR protocol to distinguish the subspecies of the Lyme bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi vs. Borrelia miyamotoi in patients with Lyme disease. 

  • Monitored trial of a Herpes simplex virus 2 vaccine that was found to be safe and effective at eliciting neutralizing antibody responses in HSV-seronegative vaccinees. 

  • Determined that specific biomarkers (IL-10, IL-18, and sFASL) contributed to the selection of patients with autoimmune lymphoproliferative syndrome that required further investigation. 

Focus

Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) 

HSV can cause severe oral and genital warts.

  • Processed blood samples from symptomatic patients infected with HSV. 
  • Evaluated differences in patient cytokine genes expression compared to asymptomatic persons who are infected with HSV or those persons who have never been infected with the virus. 
  • Assessed various cytokine levels using the Luminex multiplex platform, especially IFN-a, which may identify signaling defects in HSV patients. 
  • Provided insights into mechanisms of disease due to HSV, which may indicate  ways to ameliorate symptoms. 
  • Monitored a human HSV vaccine study assessing the use of the HSV-2 stain 186 dl5-29 virus. 

Recombinant Respiratory Syncytial Virus A2 (RSV A2) 

RSV is the leading cause of pneumonia-related deaths among children under five years of age, as well as elderly and immunocompromised individuals.

  • Monitored a trial that evaluated the safety and estimated disease frequency after human challenge with wild-type RSV A2. 

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) 

 CMV is the predominant infectious cause of congenital birth defects and an opportunistic pathogen in immunosuppressed individuals, including AIDS patients.

  • Monitored a nonhuman primate vaccine trial in support of studies designed to characterize the natural history of the disease process. 

Technology

ddPCR 

  • Developed a highly sensitive assay to measure EBV viral load in patients enrolled in an EBV vaccine trial.