Nucleic Acid Based Pathogen Diagnostics

University dissertation from Stockholm : KTH

Abstract: Pathogenic organisms are transmitted to the host organism through all possible connected pathways, and cause a myriad of diseases states. Commonly occurring curable infectious diseases still impose the greatest health impacts on a worldwide perspective. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation partnered with RAND Corporation to form the Global Health Diagnostics Forum, with the goal of establishing and interpreting mathematical models for what effects a newly introduced point-of-care pathogen diagnostic would have in developing countries. The results were astonishing, with potentially millions of lives to be saved on an annual basis.Golden standard for diagnostics of pathogenic bacteria has long been cultureable medias. Environmental biologists have estimated that less than 1% of all bacteria are cultureable. Genomic-based approaches offer the potential to identify all microbes from all the biological kingdoms. Nucleic acid based pathogen diagnostics has evolved significantly over the past decades. Novel technologies offer increased potential in sensitivity, specificity, decreased costs and parallel sample management. However, most methods are confined to core laboratory facilities. To construct an ultimate nucleic acid based diagnostic for use in areas of need, potential frontline techniques need to be identified and combined.The research focus of this doctoral thesis work has been to develop and apply nucleic acid based methods for pathogen diagnostics. Methods and assays were applied to the two distinct systems i) screening for antibiotic resistance mutations in the bacterial pathogen Neisseria gonorrhoeae, and ii) genotype determination of the cancer causative Human Papillomavirus (HPV). The first part of the study included development of rapid, direct and multiplex Pyrosequencing nucleic acid screenings. With improved methodology in the sample preparation process, we could detect an existence of multiple co-infecting HPV genotypes at greater sensitivities than previously described, when using the same type of methodology. The second part of the study focused on multiplex nucleic acid amplification strategies using Molecular Inversion Probes with end-step Pyrosequencing screening. The PathogenMip assay presents a complete detection schematic for virtually any known pathogenic organism. We also introduce the novel Connector Inversion Probe, a padlock probe capable of complete gap-fill reactions for multiplex nucleic acid amplifications.