Classifying disease stage and elucidating a prognosis, which allow the most effective medical intervention, are unattainable when the underlying pathological changes, or the correlates of stage and prognosis, are associated with heterogeneous cells states within a larger population. Single cell analyses can provide an unsurpassed means to measure and unravel heterogeneity in complex biological systems, and thereby to understand the basis for (or to identify correlates of) changes in biological function and disease processes. Here we propose to develop a rapid assay for detection of antigen-specific responses in single T cells from small amounts of blood, based on state-of-the-art techniques that are sensitive and robust. Our proposal aims at developing a test that provides tuberculosis (TB) diagnosticians with the critical ability to distinguish stable latent Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection (when the asymptomatic subject is not progressing to disease, is not infectious, and does not require treatment) from preclinical disease (when the asymptomatic subject is developing disease, is still not infectious, and requires early treatment to block progression of disease and drastically curb transmission of infection). Our multidisciplinary team includes expertise in development of novel single cell analysis methodology, cellular immunology, and biomarker research for TB, which still causes millions of cases of disease and death worldwide every year. Our assay is expected to yield multi-parameter measurements of single T cell functional states by integrating (i) use of artificial Ag-presenting cells (aAPC) to activate T cell receptor signaling and stimulation of gene expression, with (ii) measurement of inducible tell-tale markers of T cell activation and function by quantitative flow cytometry. Induced gene expression will be detected by mRNA enumeration using single molecule fluorescence in situ hybridization (smFISH). The research plan is articulated in four aims, each focused on the development of a specific aspect of the assay: (1) read-out: detection of activation markers in single T cells by smFISH and flow cytometry following conventional stimulation; (2) stimulation: response to aAPC assessed by detection of activation markers in single T cells; (3) response to infection-stage-specific Ag: association of single T cell responses with disease vs asymptomatic infection; (4) infection-stage-specific functional T cell signatures: multi-parameter characterization of single T cell responses and association with disease vs asymptomatic infection. The proposed plan should lead to recognizing and treating active TB prior to the appearance of microbiological and clinical signs and symptoms of disease. This is the current holy grail in TB diagnosis as it is considered to be critical to TB elimination efforts. The new assay principles will be translatable for diagnosis anddisease staging of any pathology with T cell involvement, including other infectious diseases, cancer, autoimmunity, and transplantation.
|Effective start/end date||9/7/12 → 8/31/18|
- National Institutes of Health (NIH)