Metagenomic Array Detection of emerging Virus in EU (MAD-VIR)
Early identification of zoonotic virus pathogens through new harmonized metagenomics may aid in EU outbreak preparedness. Epidemics and outbreaks of emerging viral diseases are a growing global threat. The recent Ebola-, MERS-CoV and Zika virus outbreaks illustrates this. Emerging viral infection presents as clinical syndromes e.g. hemorrhagic fevers (CCHF), encephalitis (WN, Usutu), severe pneumonia (MERS), or congenital birth defects (Zika, Schmallenberg virus). However, the early clinical features may be difficult to differentiate and the severity of illness may be variable. Viruses are often endemic in tropical and sub-tropical regions and many are zoonotic. Their life cycle often depends on a vertebrate or arthropod host (non-human primates, bats, rodents, ticks, sandflies, and mosquitoes) but can also transfer via food, raw milk and milk-products. Others can be food-borne (with transmission by byproducts other than milk), such as hepatitis E virus or transmitted through contact (Ebola). Early, rapid and bio-safe diagnosis of unusual and imported cases offers the best preparedness. However, many infections show similar symptoms (syndromes) or initially nonspecific symptoms, making them clinically difficult to recognize or distinguish from other common diseases.
SSI have developed a metagenomics microarray technology (Pan-Virus-Array) with clinical sensitivity. It provides rapid simultaneous identification of all known virus and all virus families through 180,000 probes for all human and animal viruses present in GenBank (2016). This approach can eliminate the need for a specific clinical hypothesis and replace hundreds of different assays.
In the Mad-Vir project the microarray chip will be to further developed in order to allow easy update with new viruses. The Pan-Virus Microarray detection method will be implemented in three EU reference laboratories (INIA, Spaine; APHA, UK; PIWET, Polen) besides SSI, DK. This will allow for harmonization and comparison of pathogen-focused methods in the consortium. Within the MAD-Vir consortium, this metagenomic microarray will be compared to other diagnostic methods that have already been developed (e.g. pathogen specific PCRs, Microfluidic PCRs, Nanostring) and used in the testing of suspicious and imported disease cases as well as survey-samples, sample collections, and QA-panels from the EU partners.