Developing FACS based in vitro assays to measure antibody mediated protection against infection with intracellular bacteria

Jes Dietrich

Chlamydia, caused by infection with Chlamydia trachomatis, is the most common sexually transmitted disease in Europe. More than 100 million chlamydial infections are estimated annually worldwide. Chlamydia infection can cause serious damage to the female reproductive organs and lead to ectopic pregnancies and infertility.

Developing a vaccine is an international priority.  Antibodies are crucial in the defense against chlamydia and rapid identification of neutralizing/protective antibodies is crucial for disease control in the future, and the induction of such antibodies is a requirement of any vaccine against C. trachomatis.

Vaccine candidates are normally tested in a mouse infection model where the animals are subjected to an intra-vaginal infection with C. trachomatis. It is well known in the chlamydia field that this model is far from an optimal model. It requires the usage of a significant number of animals per group to achieve statistical power, which has prompted us to initiate this project.

The goal of the project is to develop two flow cytometry based in vitro assays, using cell lines rather than animals, by which we can test the ability of vaccine induced antibodies to mediate a protective function, either by inducing the destruction of the bacteria in phagocytic cells or by preventing the bacteria from infecting our cells.

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