A Medical Device Daily
Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) scientists, led by Chief Scientific Officer Christopher Wong, PhD, developed a novel approach to uncover the complete sequence of any influenza A virus, including H1NI, with just a quick nasal swab or nasal pharyngeal wash from patients.
The new method, which enables scientists to amplify full genomes of influenza A viruses and sequence them within a day, was developed at the Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS), sponsored by Singapore's A*STAR (Agency for Science, Development and Research), in collaboration with Roche NimbleGen (Madison, Wisconsin).
The system, which combines generic polymerase chain reaction (PCR) with NimbleGen's microarray-based platform, makes use of the same RNA (ribonucleic acid) material that is left over from traditional PCR-based diagnostics and is able to recognize any novel strain of influenza A in the first pass.
This enables faster development of diagnostics for any possible new variant; it can also rapidly determine whether the strain has developed drug resistance.
"This new approach takes advantage of our novel PCR technology, developed for detecting a wide range of pathogens," said Wong. "This should greatly simplify the process of sequencing novel viruses." The scientists' approach is also able to trace the mutations in the influenza A virus that may cause its resistance to drugs.
"The significance of this tracking process can be better appreciated in that it provides for vital information that can be used to prevent or combat a pandemic," said Edison Liu, MD, GIS executive director. This is especially important given the rapid spread of the new strain of the influenza A (nH1N1) virus. Experts have been concerned that the evolutionary track of this new strain might lead to mutation or re-assortment with other influenza strains with the potential to produce a more deadly strain, as the world experienced with the 1918 strain.
"With the development of this new system, the entire project team hopes to better and more quickly track this new flu variant and keep the world informed of how the virus is evolving," said Gerd Maass, PhD, CEO of Roche NimbleGen.
GIS scientists used NimbleGen arrays in a similar way during the SARS outbreak in 2003, to understand the infectious source and to globally monitor the SARS virus.