Development of a monoclonal sandwich ELISA for direct detection of bluetongue virus 8 in infected animals
Bluetongue is an infectious viral disease which can cause mortality in affected ruminants, and tremendous economic damage via impacts upon fertility, milk production and the quality of wool. The disease is caused by bluetongue virus (BTV) which is transmitted by species of Culicoides biting midge. Rapid detection of BTV is required to contain disease outbreaks and reduce economic losses. The purpose of this study was to develop a monoclonal sandwich ELISA for direct detection of BTV in infected animals. Phage display technology was used to isolate BTV specific antibody fragments by applying the human scFv Tomlinson antibody libraries directly on purified BTV-8 particles. Three unique BTV-8 specific human antibody fragments were isolated which were able to detect purified BTV particles and also BTV in serum of an infected sheep. A combination of a human/mouse scFv-Fc chimeric fusion protein and a human Fab fragment in a sandwich ELISA format was able to detect BTV specifically with a limit of detection (LOD) of 104 infectious virus particles, as determined by tissue culture titration. This approach provided pilot data towards the development of a novel diagnostic test that might be used for direct detection of BTV-8 particles.