Seattle Children’s Research Institute recently announced that Tim Rose, PhD, co-director of the Center for Global Infectious Disease Research, in partnership with Micronics, Inc., a medical device development company in Redmond, Wash., has been awarded a $5.3 million five-year grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAD) to develop a highly accurate and easy-to-use point-of-care diagnostic tool and global surveillance system.
The system will be used to identify and track current and new strains of influenza viruses faster and more cost effectively than current technologies.
The partnership integrates Rose’s novel Consensus-Degenerate Hybrid Oligonucleotide Primer (CODEHOP) detection methodology, with Micronics’ PanNAT system, a proprietary molecular diagnostic system. The CODEHOP technology provides a highly sensitive method to detect low levels of virus while preserving the ability to detect unknown and mutated members of a virus family.
The teams will collaborate to develop new tests based on CODEHOP that can be processed by the PanNAT system for use in identifying causes of respiratory infection. Together, the technologies are expected to provide a quick diagnosis at point-of-care, when individuals are first evaluated for infection.
Recent outbreaks of virus strains, like the 2009 pandemic H1N1 swine influenza and the highly-pathogenic H7N9 avian influenza, highlight the importance and need for developing a system for quick diagnosis and monitoring of respiratory and other viruses.
Current approaches used to monitor and detect viruses rely on tests that are designed to detect known circulating viruses. The combined Seattle Children’s Research Institute – Micronics team will develop tests to detect both known and unknown viruses and identify strain-specific disease signatures that can be used for monitoring influenza outbreaks.
Once a signature is identified for a newly emerging influenza strain, the system will be useful in helping to track the spread of the virus. These technologies will help disease surveillance organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) more quickly map the origin and spread of outbreaks and develop plans to contain potential pandemics.
“We hope that by integrating CODEHOP-based tests on a point-of-care platform we can improve monitoring of the spread of existing influenza strains and detect new viruses coming into the population from human and non-human sources, ” said Rose. “Our goal is to decrease the time required to identify new influenza virus infections and improve the way we monitor and respond to virus outbreaks, allowing public health measures to be quickly enacted, potentially saving thousands of lives.”
In partnership with Janet Englund, MD, of Seattle Children’s Hospital, Rose and his colleagues will use virus samples from Seattle Children’s to test the effectiveness of the diagnostic system.