Molecular Microbiology

Head: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Dong Van Quyen
Founded in 2000, the Molecular Microbiology Laboratory (LMM) specializes in the development and applications of diagnostic tests for microbial pathogens using molecular biology techniques. Our approaches provide highly accurate, rapid and sensitive tests for detection of emerging, reemerging and different important microbial pathogens. The laboratory has been researching and implementing diagnostic tests using the PCR, RT-PCR, real-time RT-PCR and that have led to sensitive and specific tests for the detection of many tremendous pathogens such as hepatitis B virus, dengue virus, white spot syndrome virus, and respiratory viruses. In addition, the laboratory has also implemented tests for genetic diseases. Currently, the main focus of LMM scientists is human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1) and influenza viruses (H5N1, H1N1). To our knowledge, LMM is the first laboratory in Vietnam is doing molecular surveillance of HIV strains circulating in the country. Our study will provide useful information for HIV-1 vaccine development as well as vaccination strategies in Vietnam. Besides, we have cloned and purified many important proteins of these viruses such as P24, GP120, and GP41 of HIV-1; HA, NA, M of influenza viruses and our work is under way to develop diagnostic kits and recombinant vaccines.

During the H5N1 outbreaks, with the support of WHO, LMM is the key lab to produce the H5N1 vaccine in Vietnam using egg-based technology. Now we are applying modern techniques (adeno-associated viral vectors and virus-like particles) to make the viral strains for production of new vaccine generations.

As a consequence of addressing its diagnostic demands, LMM is quickly moving to more highly complex technology. For example, the laboratory has moved away from the time consuming and complex tests toward simple and rapid tests such as dot blot, latex agglutination and PCR-based direct mutational analysis, and biosensors for detection of pathogenic agents. As well, the lab has introduced multiplexed-PCR to detect and distinguish the seasonal H1N1 and pandemic strains.

Laboratory personnel have been trained from the premier universities of Vietnam as well as from universities in other countries including America, South Korea, Japan and German, and possess high level technical and interpretive skills in molecular biology.

LMM also supports undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral education in the areas of microbiology and molecular biology. The laboratory has an active education program and participates in the teaching of Biological, Medical and pharmaceutical students from all around the country. LMM has collaboration with the universities, research institutes in Vietnam as well as with other institutions in the world.