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Janet L Brandsma PhD

Associate Professor (Adjunct) of Comparative Medicine and of Pathology

Research Interests

Molecular biology of papillomavirus pathogenesis; Development of protective and therapeutic vaccines for the treatment of human papillomavirus (HPV)-associated disease; Vaccines; Virology


Research Summary

Human papillomaviruses (HPVs) are etiologically involved in inducing cervical and other anogenital cancers. Our goals are:

  1. to define the genetic determinants of papillomavirus-induced benign and malignant disease, and
  2. to develop a papillomavirus vaccine to prevent tumors from forming, and/or to induce, or accelerate, their regression.
To address these goals, we utilize the well characterized cottontail papillomavirus (CRPV)-rabbit system.

For goal 1: we generate site specific mutations in a complete CRPV genome, test the ability of the mutant genomes to induce disease in rabbits, and characterize lesions that form histologically and biochemically.

For goal 2, we generate, and then bind to fine gold particles, eukaryotic expression vectors for individual CRPV genes. Rabbits are immunized with the DNA-coated particles (the candidate vaccine) using an Accell Gene Delivery System. The rabbit immune response is characterized, and its effectiveness is evaluated by challenge with CRPV.


Selected Publications

  • Brandsma JL, Shlyankevich M, Zelterman D, Su Y (2007) Therapeutic vaccination of rabbits with a ubiquitin-fused papillomavirus E1, E2, E6 and E7 DNA vaccine. Vaccine. 425(33):6158-63.
  • Brandsma JL, Shylankevich M, Su Y, Roberts A, Rose JK, Zelterman D, Buonocore L (2007) Vesicular stomatitis virus-based therapeutic vaccination targeted to the E1, E2, E6, and E7 proteins of cottontail rabbit papillomavirus. J Virol. 81(11):5749-58.
  • Brandsma JL, Shlyankevich M, Buonocore L, Roberts A, Becker SM, Rose JK (2007) Therapeutic efficacy of vesicular stomatitis virus-based E6 vaccination in rabbits. Vaccine. 25(4):751-62.
  • Brandsma JL (2006) DNA vaccine design. Methods Mol Med. 127:3-10.
  • Weinberger PM, Yu Z, Haffty BG, Kowalski D, Harigopal M, Brandsma J, Sasaki C, Joe J, Camp RL, Rimm DL, Psyrri A (2006). Molecular classification identifies a subset of human papillomavirus-associated oropharyngeal cancers with favorable prognosis. J. Clin. Oncol. 24(5):736-47.

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