The Antigen Discovery and Molecular Biology Unit expresses and purifies recombinant protein antigens for vaccines against neglected tropical diseases and other emerging infectious diseases. The unit focuses on identification and cloning of the molecules secreted by parasites that play important roles in the establishment of parasitism or survival of the parasites in hosts and evaluating their potential as vaccine candidates.

The unit also develops and optimizes the expression platform for each vaccine candidate protein, mainly using yeast, E. coli, or mammalian cell expression systems; makes research seed stocks based on small scale expression yield and solubility; and expresses and purifies recombinant proteins at the small scale for research purposes. The seed stocks are then transferred to the Process Development Unit for large scale production of vaccine antigens. In addition, the Antigen Discovery unit also maintains the hookworm life cycle in hamsters for pre-clinical vaccine trials and drug screening purposes.

Laboratory Facilities

Dr. Zhan’s laboratory has extensive capability of molecular cloning and recombinant protein expression using Pichia pastoris, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Escherichia coli, Baculovirus and mammalian cell culture expression systems, with fermentation capabilities from the 1-10L scale. The facility is capable of molecular cloning, developing and optimizing protein expression and purification processes and immunological assay.

Procedures may include, but are not limited to, PCR amplification, Western blot, ion exchange chromatography (anion or cation), hydrophobic interaction chromatography, hydroxyapatite, reverse phase and size exclusion, IMAC and affinity chromatography.