WARF: P160337US02

Multicolor Reporter Cells for Detecting and Quantifying HIV-1


Nathan Sherer, Jordan Becker

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is seeking commercial partners interested in developing a method using multicolor fluorescent reporter cells in a simple and cost-effective HIV-1 quantitative viral outgrowth assay.

The assay reliably monitors latent virus reservoir size in HIV-1-infected human subjects and non-human primate models of HIV/AIDS. This method enables direct, real-time monitoring of the biogenesis and transmission of HIV-1 at single cell resolution and over multiple rounds of viral replication.
OVERVIEWIt is estimated that half of new HIV infections in the U.S. are from patients who know they are HIV-positive but underestimate their transmissibility. Identifying and monitoring the latent HIV reservoir in these individuals could inform patient care and significantly reduce the incidence of new infections.

Currently, tests for measuring the latent HIV reservoir are difficult to perform, time consuming and expensive. These include the quantitative viral outgrowth assay (Q-VOA). A simple and low-cost alternative could be a gamechanger in global health.
THE INVENTIONUW–Madison researchers have developed highly sensitive and specific reporter cell lines suitable for automated detection of HIV in a microfluidic platform. The multicolor fluorescence-based cell readouts respond robustly to HIV-1 infections, and are useful for tracking the spread of HIV-1 infection and ideal for implementation in an automated Q-VOA assay.

The reporter cells are based on coupling fluorescent markers turned ‘on’ in response to HIV infection to markers turned ‘off’ by the virus. Calculating net ‘on/off’ ratios over time, relative to standards, allows for high sensitivity and favorable signal-to-noise. The ability to amplify response signals with minimal background and without the need for chemical substrates represents a significant improvement over existing green fluorescent protein (GFP) or chemiluminescence-based single reporter lines.
  • Detecting and quantifying viral reservoir
  • Patient care
  • Research tool
  • High sensitivity
  • No chemical substrates
  • Fast, low cost and accurate
STAGE OF DEVELOPMENTHeLa cell and Jurkat cell constructs have been tested and other constructs are in development, including a version of the assay in a microfluidic device.
Contact Information
For current licensing status, please contact Jennifer Gottwald at or 608-960-9854.
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