Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2016

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Molecular, Cellular, & Developmental Biology

First Advisor

Robert Garcea

Second Advisor

Kenneth Krauter

Third Advisor

Susan Hendrickson


Cervical cancer is one of the leading causes of death from cancer around the world, resulting in nearly 300,000 deaths each year (Torre et al., 2012). Infection with high risk types of Human Papillomavirus is the primary etiologic event associated with the development of cervical cancer (Wallboomers, 1999). Since 2006, HPV vaccines have dramatically decreased cases of cervical cancer in developed countries. However, because these vaccines are expensive and require cold chain storage, their use in developing countries, where 85% of deaths from cervical cancer occur, has been limited (Torre et al., 2012; Kane, 2006). Development of second generation HPV vaccines that are inexpensive and thermodynamically stable at high temperatures is necessary to expand access to HPV vaccines to regions where they are needed the most.

The research project described in this thesis details the characterization of monoclonal antibodies specific to the L1 capsid protein of Human Papillomavirus type 45. The monoclonal antibodies were developed at NeoClone, then tested in three laboratory assays: enzyme linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs), Western blots and pseudovirus neutralization assays. Identifying monoclonal antibodies specific to HPV45 L1 in each of these assays is important for the design and production of second-generation HPV vaccines.

During characterization, it was determined that the monoclonal antibodies were reactive toward a cross contaminant instead of HPV45 L1. Although the antibodies are contaminated, this thesis serves as a proof of concept for the characterization of HPV45 L1 monoclonal antibodies and can be used as a roadmap in further characterization experiments.