LabKey Server NAb: A tool for analyzing, visualizing and sharing results from neutralizing antibody assays

Abstract

Background

Multiple types of assays allow sensitive detection of virus-specific neutralizing antibodies. For example, the extent of antibody neutralization of HIV-1, SIV and SHIV can be measured in the TZM-bl cell line through the degree of luciferase reporter gene expression after infection. In the past, neutralization curves and titers for this standard assay have been calculated using an Excel macro. Updating all instances of such a macro with new techniques can be unwieldy and can introduce non-uniformity across multi-lab teams. Using Excel also poses challenges in centrally storing, sharing and associating raw data files and results.

Results

We present LabKey Server’s NAb tool for organizing, analyzing and securely sharing data, files and results for neutralizing antibody (NAb) assays, including the luciferase-based TZM-bl NAb assay. The customizable tool supports high-throughput experiments and includes a graphical plate template designer, allowing researchers to quickly adapt calculations to new plate layouts. The tool calculates the percent neutralization for each serum dilution based on luminescence measurements, fits a range of neutralization curves to titration results and uses these curves to estimate the neutralizing antibody titers for benchmark dilutions. Results, curve visualizations and raw data files are stored in a database and shared through a secure, web-based interface. NAb results can be integrated with other data sources based on sample identifiers. It is simple to make results public after publication by updating folder security settings.

Conclusions

Standardized tools for analyzing, archiving and sharing assay results can improve the reproducibility, comparability and reliability of results obtained across many labs. LabKey Server and its NAb tool are freely available as open source software at http://www.labkey.com under the Apache 2.0 license. Many members of the HIV research community can also access the LabKey Server NAb tool without installing the software by using the Atlas Science Portal (https://atlas.scharp.org). Atlas is an installation of LabKey Server.

Britt Piehler, Elizabeth K Nelson, Josh Eckels, Sarah Ramsay, Karl Lum, Blake Wood, Kelli M Greene, Hongmei Gao, Michael S Seaman, David C Montefiori and Mark Igra. LabKey Server NAb: A tool for analyzing, visualizing and sharing results from neutralizing antibody assays. BMC Immunology 2011, 12:33.

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