Pharma Focus Asia

Utilization of an Eilat Virus-Based Chimera for Serological Detection of Chikungunya Infection

Authors: Jesse H. Erasmus, James Needham, Syamal Raychaudhuri, Michael S. Diamond, David W. C. Beasley, Stan Morkowski, Henrik Salje, Ildefonso Fernandez Salas, Dal Young Kim, Ilya Frolov, Farooq Nasar, Scott C. Weaver


In December of 2013, chikungunya virus (CHIKV), an alphavirus in the family Togaviridae, was introduced to the island of Saint Martin in the Caribbean, resulting in the first autochthonous cases reported in the Americas. As of January 2015, local and imported CHIKV has been reported in 50 American countries with over 1.1 million suspected cases. CHIKV causes a severe arthralgic disease for which there are no approved vaccines or therapeutics. Furthermore, the lack of a commercially available, sensitive, and affordable diagnostic assay limits surveillance and control efforts. To address this issue, we utilized an insect-specific alphavirus, Eilat virus (EILV), to develop a diagnostic antigen that does not require biosafety containment facilities to produce. We demonstrated that EILV/CHIKV replicates to high titers in insect cells and can be applied directly in enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays without inactivation, resulting in highly sensitive detection of recent and past CHIKV infection, and outperforming traditional antigen preparations.

Citation: Erasmus JH, Needham J, Raychaudhuri S, Diamond MS, Beasley DWC, Morkowski S, et al. (2015) Utilization of an Eilat Virus-Based Chimera for Serological Detection of Chikungunya Infection. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 9(10): e0004119. doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0004119

Editor: Brian Bird, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNITED STATES

Received: July 7, 2015; Accepted: September 4, 2015; Published: October 22, 2015

Copyright: This is an open access article, free of all copyright, and may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, modified, built upon, or otherwise used by anyone for any lawful purpose. The work is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication

Data Availability: All relevant data are within the paper.


This work was supported by National Institutes of Health contract HHSN272201000040I / HHSN27200004 / D04 and R01-AI104545 and UL1 TR001439 as well as the McLaughlin Fellowship Fund. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing interests:

I have read the journal's policy and the authors of this manuscript have the following competing interests: JHE, FN, and SCW have a patent application entitled "Alphavirus Compositions and Methods of Use” pending, which includes technology reported in this paper. InBios International, Inc. provided support in the form of salaries for authors JN, SM, and SR, but did not have any additional role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. SR has an ownership at InBios. InBios has a license to the pending patent. This does not alter our adherence to all PLOS policies on sharing data and materials.


The authors thank Emily S. Gurley at the icddr,b in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Raymond Césaire at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Fort-de-France, Martinique, Iliana Malo Garcia and Esteban Eduardo Diaz Gonzalez at the Centro Regional de Investigación en Salud Publica INSP in Tapachula Mexico, and Eryu Wang at the University of Texas Medical Branch for providing serum samples for these analyses.

Author Contributions

Conceived and designed the experiments: JHE DWCB FN SCW. Performed the experiments: JHE JN FN SM. Analyzed the data: JHE FN SCW. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: JN SR SM MSD HS IFS DYK IF. Wrote the paper: JHE FN SCW.

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