Vaccines, Blood & Biologics

Accurate and simultaneous identification of influenza viruses

Scientists at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) showed that  a” one-test-fits-all” technique they developed can  simultaneously detect in a single sample, different influenza viruses and determine their genetic makeup.

The new “diagnostic platform,” which is not available commercially, might one day be the basis of a simple strategy for identifying any strain of influenza virus that is in single patient samples, such as nasopharyngeal swabs. Such a platform, which would require years of further development and testing, might help public health officials study epidemics and improve their ability to prepare for potential influenza pandemics.
The new platform uses a combination of two powerful technologies: 1) a device called a nanomicroarray adapted to screen patient samples for the presence of influenza viral genes; 2) multiplex next-generation sequencing (NGS) assays that identify the sequence of building blocks comprising individual genes, thus confirming the identity of the influenza virus.
The nanomicroarray, which the FDA scientists previously developed, can detect specifically targeted influenza genes even if they have undergone mutation or reassortment (i.e., have exchanged genes with a different influenza virus). This allows it to detect not only known types of influenza viruses, but also emerging influenza viruses that have new characteristics and for which there might be no effective vaccine available.     
The combination nanomicroarray-multiplex-NGS diagnostic platform is important because conventional methods for detecting and discriminating among influenza viruses are time consuming and labor intensive. This is especially troublesome in the case of influenza epidemics, especially when they are caused by emerging viruses. The new platform could significantly reduce the time and effort needed for accurate detection and characterization of these viruses.
The FDA nanomicroarray targets specific influenza genes critical to identifying and characterizing the two major families of these viruses, influenza A and B, specifically, hemaglutinin (HA), neuraminidase (NA), and matrix proteins.
The FDA scientists who did the work are in the Office of Blood Research and Review in the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.
Nanomicroarray and Multiplex Next-Generation Sequencing for Simultaneous Identification
and Characterization of Influenza Viruses
Emerging Infectious Diseases
Vol. 21 (3); March 2015    DOI:
Jiangqin Zhao, Viswanath Ragupathy, Jikun Liu, Xue Wang, Sai Vikram Vemula,
Haja Sittana El Mubarak, Zhiping Ye, Marie L. Landry, Indira Hewlett
Food and Drug Administration, Silver Spring, Maryland, USA (J. Zhao, V. Ragupathy, J. Liu, X. Wang, S.V.
Vemula, H.S. El Mubarak, Z. Ye, I. Hewlett); Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA (M.L. Landry)


Page Last Updated: 05/11/2015
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