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 Communication between neural networks
17.12.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht Neurons migrate in the nascent brain as if on rails
17.12.2018 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Data storage using individual molecules

Researchers from the University of Basel have reported a new method that allows the physical state of just a few atoms or molecules within a network to be controlled. It is based on the spontaneous self-organization of molecules into extensive networks with pores about one nanometer in size. In the journal ‘small’, the physicists reported on their investigations, which could be of particular importance for the development of new storage devices.

Around the world, researchers are attempting to shrink data storage devices to achieve as large a storage capacity in as small a space as possible. In almost...

Im Focus: Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.

Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...

Im Focus: An energy-efficient way to stay warm: Sew high-tech heating patches to your clothes

Personal patches could reduce energy waste in buildings, Rutgers-led study says

What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Formed to Meet Customers’ Needs – New Laser Beams for Glass Processing

17.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Preserving soil quality in the long term

17.12.2018 | Architecture and Construction

New RNA sequencing strategy provides insight into microbiomes

17.12.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>