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Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology
Volume 2010, Article ID 856842, 8 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2010/856842
Methodology Report

IMMUNOCAT—A Data Management System for Epitope Mapping Studies

Division of Vaccine Discovery, La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA

Received 30 November 2009; Accepted 7 March 2010

Academic Editor: Anne S. De Groot

Copyright © 2010 Jo L. Chung et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

To enable rationale vaccine design, studies of molecular and cellular mechanisms of immune recognition need to be linked with clinical studies in humans. A major challenge in conducting such translational research studies lies in the management and integration of large amounts and various types of data collected from multiple sources. For this purpose, we have established “IMMUNOCAT”, an interactive data management system for the epitope discovery research projects conducted by our group. The system provides functions to store, query, and analyze clinical and experimental data, enabling efficient, systematic, and integrative data management. We demonstrate how IMMUNOCAT is utilized in a large-scale research contract that aims to identify epitopes in common allergens recognized by T cells from human donors, in order to facilitate the rational design of allergy vaccines. At clinical sites, demographic information and disease history of each enrolled donor are captured, followed by results of an allergen skin test and blood draw. At the laboratory site, T cells derived from blood samples are tested for reactivity against a panel of peptides derived from common human allergens. IMMUNOCAT stores results from these T cell assays along with MHC:peptide binding data, results from RAST tests for antibody titers in donor serum, and the respective donor HLA typing results. Through this system, we are able to perform queries and integrated analyses of the various types of data. This provides a case study for the use of bioinformatics and information management techniques to track and analyze data produced in a translational research study aimed at epitope identification.