The 2014–2016 Ebola outbreak in West Africa highlighted the need for improved diagnostics, surveillance and therapeutics for filoviruses. The need for high containment virus handling facilities creates a bottleneck hindering research efforts. A safe alternative to working with native viruses are pseudotyped viruses (PV) which are non-replicating particles bearing surface glycoprotein(s) that can be used for antibody detection. The aim of this study was to create a diagnostic tool to distinguish between genera and species of pathogenic filoviruses (e.g. neutralization tests and ELISA), avoiding the cross reactivity currently seen. High titre PVs bearing the receptor glycoprotein (GP) of different filovirus species, plus specific epitope chimeras, were successfully generated. Next, lyophilisation studies to assess particle stability/degradation transportation and long-term storage were conducted. Filoviruses maintained their titres for at least 1.5 years after lyophilisation when kept in temperatures of up to 4 °C, with all filovirus genera following a similar trend. At higher temperatures, PVs degraded to unworkable titres. Reconstituted PVs also performed well in neutralisation assays. A chimeric cuevavirus GP bearing ebolavirus (Zaire sp.) epitopes KZ52 and 1 H3 retained infectivity, with average titres of approximately 1×10 7 RLU ml, similar to wild type, indicating its structure was not compromised. These chimeras are now being assessed in neutralisation tests using specific monoclonal antibodies and incorporated into ELISA with PVs as antigens. The data suggests lyophilised PVs are amenable to long-term storage, and their GPs can be modified to create artificial antigens for diagnostics and serosurveillance.

  • This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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