Although the crucial role of diphtheria toxin in severe diphtheria symptoms was discovered more than 100 years ago by Yersin and Roux, a reliable, specific, accurate, affordable and simple method for the detection of diphtheria toxin is still missing.This is particularly problematic as the major outbreaks occur in vulnerable populations in low income settings and disrupted public health systems. There is a pressing need for tests that are very simple to perform, inexpensive to manufacture, and have long-term stability over a wide range of climates.
Our project intends to take advantage of the unique combination on the Institut Pasteur campus, of the National Reference Center for Corynebacteria of the diphtheriae complex (within the BEBP research unit), the Antibody Engineering core facility (PFIA), which masters the nanobody technology, and support from the Research Applications and Industrial Relationships services.
We will explore the feasibility of using camelid antibodies (nanobodies) in a Lateral Flow Immunochromatographic Assay (LFIA) test format to detect the toxin from bacterial isolates as well as directly within clinical samples.
We welcome applications from students interested to contribute to the project, non-profit or humanitarian foundations interested in testing, validation and dissemination; and contacts from potential industry partners.