Viral infections have a major impact on public health both domestically and worldwide. Consequently intense effort has been placed on the study of known human viral pathogens. However, it is likely that many diseases of unknown etiology are caused by viruses. Furthermore, new viral pathogens are constantly emerging. The ability to detect and identify novel human viruses is a major roadblock to understanding and curing diseases associated with these agents. We have developed a collaborative approach that combines the power of viral metagenomics with advances in microfluidics to allow the detection and isolation of individual viruses from complex biological samples. Here, metagenomics is the study of large populations of unknown viruses, while microfluidics is the application of micron size drops to isolate and assay single viruses at very high throughput. This application seeks support to broaden the types of viruses detected by this system and to apply it to the isolation and preliminary characterization of two novel viruses that potentially infect humans. The development of this platform will greatly enhance the ability to detect, isolate and thus rapidly characterize novel pathogens. The development of the microfluidics platform will provide emerging technology to the identification and study of heretofore unidentified viruses. This study will be the first effort to apply this technology to the identification of important new classes of viruses. This work represents a novel combination of two methods to advance the discovery process of new viruses that have a major impact on human health.

Public Health Relevance

Viral infections have a major impact on public health both domestically and worldwide;however, it is likely that viruses cause many diseases of unknown etiology, and that new viral pathogens are constantly emerging. The ability to detect and identify novel human viruses is a major roadblock to understanding and impacting diseases associated with these agents. We have developed a collaborative approach that combines the power of viral metagenomics with advances in microfluidics to allow the detection and isolation of individual viruses from complex biological samples, and ultimately to develop a platform that will greatly enhance the ability to detect, isolate and thus rapidly characterize novel pathogens.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Institute
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Type
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
Project #
5R21AI101291-03
Application #
8605835
Study Section
Instrumentation and Systems Development Study Section (ISD)
Program Officer
Dugan, Vivien Grace
Project Start
2013-02-01
Project End
2015-01-31
Budget Start
2014-02-01
Budget End
2015-01-31
Support Year
3
Fiscal Year
2014
Total Cost
$202,025
Indirect Cost
$44,850
Name
Harvard University
Department
Type
DUNS #
082359691
City
Cambridge
State
MA
Country
United States
Zip Code
02138