Infection with Salmonella enterica is estimated to cause approximately 25 million illnesses and 200,000 to 250,000 deaths per year globally. Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment are essential for optimal management of this infection, especially in children. In some areas of Africa and Asia, case fatality rates of 10-30% have been reported, which appears to be due to the delayed institution of treatment. Current methods to diagnose S. enterica infection include culture of blood, bone marrow, and stool, but are expensive, relatively slow, and not generally available at the point of care. Here, we propose to develop highly sensitive and specific recombinant anti-S. enterica single-chain antibodies (scFvs) and using these as the basis for new and accurate diagnostic assays. In the R21 portion of this grant, our goal is to generate high affinity monomeric or multimeric S. enterica- specific scFvs and develop these reagents to the extent that their utility as potential diagnostics is demonstrated. In the R21 phase of this project, we will identify S. enterica-specific phage scFv clones by screening na?ve human and immune mouse scFv phage libraries;express and purify these clones as monomeric scFvs and validate their binding activities;and convert the most promising clones to intact IgG molecules and validate their utility as diagnostic reagents. These anti-S. enterica Abs will form the basis of specific diagnostic assays to be developed in the R33 portion of this proposal. The R33 portion of this grant will involve three aspects. First, we will identify Ab pairs that can be used as capture and detection reagents for ELISA assays. Second, we will improve the sensitivity and specificity of our recombinant antibodies by generating and screening randomly mutated variants of these antibodies. Third, we will develop these recombinant antibodies as a serum diagnostic using a lateral flow immunoassay format. Accomplishing these aims will result in the development of a prototype lateral flow assay capable of detecting S. enterica, S. typhi, and S. paratyphi Ags in less than 100 ul of whole blood.
The proposed studies are intended to lead directly to the development of a low-cost point of care diagnostic test for invasive S. enterica infection. The widespread availability of such a test would significantly improve global health by allowing the immediate diagnosis and rapid treatment of S. enterica infections.