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The human immune response to West Nile virus infection



Robbiani D.



West Nile virus (WNV) is one of about 30 flaviviruses known to cause disease in humans. West Nile can cause severe disease requiring hospitalization, such as encephalitis. There is no vaccine or specific medical countermeasure against WNV and Europe experienced in 2022 a spike in the number of cases.

The overall goal of the study is to gain a better understanding of the immunologic determinants of West Nile disease, with a focus on antibody responses. In aim 1, serum samples collected from individuals recovering from WNV infection at 3 hospitals in Serbia will be analyzed to measure the amount and neutralizing capacity of the WNV-specific antibodies. In aim 2, peripheral blood mononuclear cells from selected, WNV-recovered individuals will be obtained in Serbia and shipped to Switzerland, where experiments will be performed to derive WNV-specific human monoclonal antibodies from the memory B cells using method that we helped develop and extensively applied in previous studies that we published. We expect to discover antibodies that are efficacious against WNV, and possibly also cross-reactive with other flaviviruses that are transmitted by Culex mosquitos, which will inform the development of immunotherapies and vaccines that induce protective antibodies against this viral infection. This exchange is important for expanding and fostering the network of scientific partners worldwide to advance the study of human immunology to infectious diseases. This is an important and strategic area of research at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine.

Additional information

Start date
End date
3 Months
Funding sources
Swiss National Science Foundation / Scientific Exchanges