Dawid Zyla, Ph.D.

What if we can use viruses to monitor the efficacy of our immune system?

Funded: January 2023
Funded By: The generosity of LJI Board Director Barbara Donnell, and Bill Passey and Maria Silva, in honor of Susan Donnell Budd and Elizabeth Donnell Morrison.

The human body is host to many viruses that stay with us throughout our lives. Under normal conditions, equilibrium is maintained, keeping non-pathogenic viruses suppressed. Disease or medication can weaken the immune response, escalating virus levels, a condition known as viremia. Latent viruses might serve as immune function indicators, enabling the prediction of infections and rejection of transplanted organs. With my SPARK award, I aim to develop an antigen-based method to measure virus concentrations in the blood, effectively controlling immunosuppression medication, and decreasing the likelihood of viremia. So far, in collaboration with LJI’s Bioinformatics Core, we have analyzed numerous sequences from the GeneBank database. Parts of the sequences did not correspond to existing Anelloviridae family categories, requiring the creation of a tool for uncategorized virus classification. These sequences provide an improved approach to virus surveillance and control, critical for patients undergoing immunosuppressive treatment due to an organ transplant or cancer, as they exhibit increased Anellovirus concentrations. Our main objective remains the development of an Anellovirus detection assay to evaluate immune competency. To achieve this, we need to generate antibodies that recognize Anelloviruses, and determine the most common species of these viruses in the blood of immunocompromised patients.

SPARKing Impact: My project aims to develop an antigen-based method that can measure virus levels in the blood and guide immunosuppression medication administration to lower the possibility of viremia.