Developing a rapid agglutination assay for MRSA.

Award Information
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
Branch: N/A
Contract: 1R43AI094843-01
Agency Tracking Number: R43AI094843
Amount: $599,978.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2011
Solicitation Year: 2011
Solicitation Topic Code: NIAID
Solicitation Number: PA10-123
Small Business Information
DUNS: 829840292
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 (603) 678-4959
Business Contact
Phone: (603) 727-8365
Research Institution
DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Methicillin resistant S. aureus has posed major public health problems worldwide. The basis of methicillin resistance in S. aureus strains is the functional replacement of innate penicillin binding proteins (PBPs) withalternative penicillin binding protein PBP2a which binds poorly to most 2-lactams. A major dilemma in the diagnosis of methicillin resistant S. aureus infections is the time required for diagnosis after hospital admission, thus enabling intra-hospital spread of these dangerous pathogens. Conventional cultures for the diagnosis of methicillin resistant S. aureus take at least two days. A newer and faster method for diagnosis is the PCR-based test. Although this method is faster than conventional cultures, the assay entails expensive equipment and higher per-unit cost. Therefore, there is a gap in the rapid diagnosis of methicillin-resistant S. aureus which requires a simple standalone assay with a faster turnaround time and at a cheaper cost. Saureus Inc. isa company that focuses on enabling technology for rapid diagnosis of important healthcare- related pathogens. Taking advantage of our knowledge in Gram+ molecular genetics, we have engineered L. lactis bacteria to enable heterologous expression of Spa, asurface protein of S. aureus. As Spa binds efficiently to mammalian IgGs, we demonstrated that rabbit anti-PBP2a antibodies bind at a high affinity to the recombinant Spa anchored on the surface of L. lactis. To facilitate rapid cell lysis, lysostaphin, anenzyme highly specific for lysis of S. aureus (much less so for S. epidermidis), will be deployed in a way that only lyses S. aureus efficiently, resulting in spillage of intracellular and membrane-bound contents including PBP2a. Several epitope-specificrabbit anti-PBP2a monoclonal antibodies immobilized on the surface of L. lactis bacteria will agglutinate with PBP2a to result in a clumping reaction that can be easily visualized without any extraneous visual aid. This assay is simple and cost effective and does not rely on operator skill or sophisticated lab equipment; these characteristics are typically absent in PCR-based assays. Accordingly, we plan to develop two specific aims for this proposal: I) establishing the agglutination platform based on rabbit monoclonal antibodies to PBP2a immobilized on Spa-expressing L. lactis and the lysing platform based on lysostaphin-mediated release of cellular contents from MRSA; II) optimization of variables that would enhance sensitivity, specificity, reagent stability and ease of use for the lead prototype agglutination kit for MRSA. Upon completion of these studies, we plan to apply for Phase II SBIR funding for studies on clinical samples of S. aureus. Successful conclusion of clinical studies will justify an application to the FDA-CLIA for approval of the diagnostic kit. PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE: Rapid diagnosis of MRSA is costly and time consuming. We have developed a technology to enable compilation of a cheap, simple and rapid diagnostic test. This technology is based on a novel agglutination reaction between PBP2a rapidly released from MRSA cells and rabbit antibodies immobilized by protein A on Lactococcus lactis, an innocuous bacteria normally found in dairy products such as yogurt and cheese.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

Agency Micro-sites

SBA logo
Department of Agriculture logo
Department of Commerce logo
Department of Defense logo
Department of Education logo
Department of Energy logo
Department of Health and Human Services logo
Department of Homeland Security logo
Department of Transportation logo
Environmental Protection Agency logo
National Aeronautics and Space Administration logo
National Science Foundation logo
US Flag An Official Website of the United States Government