Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Tick-borne Lone Star virus identified through new super-fast gene sequencing

03.05.2013
UCSF scientist says new approach could 'democratize' viral surveillance

The tick-borne Lone Star virus has been conclusively identified as part of a family of other tick-borne viruses called bunyaviruses, which often cause fever, respiratory problems and bleeding, according to new research led by scientists at UC San Francisco (UCSF).

What made the work especially promising, said principal investigator Charles Chiu, MD, PhD, was the speed at which the virus was definitively identified. The team used a new approach to gene sequencing that enabled them to completely reconstruct the virus' previously unknown genome in less than 24 hours – significantly faster than conventional sequencing techniques, which can take days to weeks.

The technique, called ultra-rapid deep sequencing, combines deep sequencing – an emerging technology that reconstructs an entire DNA sequence from a tiny snippet of DNA – with advanced computational techniques and algorithms developed in the laboratories of Chiu and his research collaborators.

Chiu, an assistant professor of laboratory medicine at UCSF and director of the UCSF-Abbott Viral Diagnostics and Discovery Center, reported the results in a paper published in PLOS ONE on April 29. It can be found online at http://www.plosone.org/.

The team found that the Lone Star virus, which is carried by the Lone Star tick, Amblyomma americanum, is related to a group of human pathogens including Severe Fever with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome Virus, which infected hundreds of farmers in China between 2008 and 2010; Bhanja virus, initially found in India; Palma virus, found in Portugal; and Heartland virus, an illness recently reported among farmers in Missouri.

"We did not show that Lone Star virus causes disease in humans," Chiu cautioned, "although the laboratory and sequencing data suggest that this is a distinct possibility."

He said the work may prove to be significant in light of the fact that nearly all emerging diseases discovered over the past two decades have originated in animals. While the causes of many human infectious diseases have been "pretty well characterized," he said, researchers have "only touched the tip of the iceberg" with respect to pathogens that have the potential to pass from animals to humans.

Chiu pointed to a number of serious and unexpected animal-to-human disease transmissions over the last 10 years, including SARS in 2003, the H1N1 influenza in 2009, and the current outbreak of H7N9 avian influenza, which already has resulted in more than 20 deaths in China.

"Nature is continually throwing us curveballs," Chiu said. "We will likely always be faced with the threat of novel outbreak viruses originating in animals or insects. It will be extremely important to identify and characterize those viruses as quickly as possible – to get a head start on the development of diagnostic assays for surveillance and drugs, or vaccines for treatment – before they have a chance to really spread."

In such circumstances, ultra-rapid deep sequencing will be "extremely useful," he said. "By the time SARS was identified and sequenced using conventional methods, more than a week of time had been lost. That kind of delay could be quite risky in a virus that spreads rapidly in human populations."

Chiu and his team plan to introduce a graphical user interface that will allow small laboratories to analyze and access ultra-rapid, deep-sequencing data through cloud computing over the Internet, even though they do not have access to advanced computers.

"This will mean that any remote laboratory in Asia or Africa – where a lot of these recent outbreaks have occurred – will be able to use a portable, field-ready benchtop sequencer hooked up to a smartphone or laptop with an Internet connection, to obtain a complete genetic sequence of a novel pathogen within hours," said Chiu. "Our hope is that these efforts will democratize the surveillance and investigation of infectious diseases."

The first author of the study is Andrea Swei, PhD, of San Francisco State University. Other co-authors include Brandy J. Russell of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); Samia N. Naccache, PhD, Beniwende Kabre and Narayanan Veeraraghavan, PhD, of UCSF; and Mark A. Pilgard and Barbara J.B. Johnson, PhD, of the CDC.

The study was supported by funds from the National Institutes of Health (R56-AI089532 and RO1-HL105704), an Abbott Viral Discovery Award, the QB3 Swartz Foundation Lyme Disease Grant, the National Research Fund for Tick-borne Diseases, a UCSF Microbial Pathogenesis training grant and the CDC.

UCSF is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care.

Kristen Bole | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucsf.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Newly designed molecule binds nitrogen
23.02.2018 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht Atomic Design by Water
23.02.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung GmbH

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Attoseconds break into atomic interior

A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.

In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...

Im Focus: Good vibrations feel the force

A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.

By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Basque researchers turn light upside down

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Finnish research group discovers a new immune system regulator

23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Attoseconds break into atomic interior

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>