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Development of a microarray for the detection of exotic, endemic, zoonotic and emerging viruses in avian and other species - SE4102

This proposal addresses emerging diseases. These have been defined by the US Centres for Disease Control as including (a) recent increase in incidence of a disease (re-emergence); (b) newly discovered diseases; and (c) newly evolved diseases e.g. as a consequence of new interactions between potential hosts. Early detection and identification of the aetiological agent(s) is a crucial factor in the control of a disease. By definition new diseases pose the greatest problem with respect to identification, SARS being a recent example. A microarray developed in the US, published in late 2002 (1), was used with material from SARS patients; it produced the first strong evidence that the aetiological agent was a coronavirus (2). We propose to develop a microarray for the detection of viruses in avian species. New viral diseases have emerged in recent years in poultry e.g. turkey rhinotracheitis virus, caused by a metapneumovirus, in Europe in the 1980s (firstly subtype A, superseded by subtype B) (3), and in the USA in 1996 (subtype C) (4). An example of a type (c) emerging disease is West Nile virus, which transferred to the USA in 1999, infecting wild life, including crows, and subsequently spread to humans (5). Highly pathogenic avian influenza virus is an example of a type (a) emerging disease, the incidence having increased in recent years e.g. H7N1 in 1999 in Italy (6), 2003 in the Netherlands and H5N1 in south-east Asia currently. Although we have the detection of viruses in avian species uppermost in our minds, the
microarray would also be suitable for the investigation of diseases in other classes of animal. The oligonucleotides that would comprise the microarray
include ones based on gene sequences of mammalian as well as avian viruses. This is important not least because birds might be infected by viruses of a group previously associated only with mammalian hosts e.g. puffins naturally infected with a group 2 coronavirus (7, 8); the well-known avian coronaviruses being in group 3. We have shown by sequencing the genome of avian encephalomyelitis virus (9) that it is a picornavirus most closely related, to date, with mammalian hepatitis A viruses, an unexpected outcome. The great advantage of a microarray is that a single clinical sample can be investigated for the presence of hundreds of viruses in a single operation. This proposal addresses several of the policies described in the Defra document “Animal Health and Welfare Strategy Implementation Plan for England”, released in December 2003. These include 3.4 New Initiative 6: Veterinary Surveillance Strategy. In addition to utilising a microarray in response to a new disease, it can be used as part of a surveillance strategy .e.g. to define a baseline for the occurrence of many pathogens today, against which to compare occurrence in the future; changes might be detected in this way - before a particular pathogen has been definitively associated with a disease. The microarray would also be relevant to 3.9 Emergency Preparedness, especially in respect of exotic and zoonotic diseases, and 3.13 Veterinary Research, in the context of providing sound data for both existing and emerging diseases. The microarray approach is logistically favourable; hundreds of pathogens are screened simultaneously on one slide. Once developed, the microarray can be used in projects lead by scientists outwith IAH e.g. VLA Weybridge, DARDNI Stormont, and in the universities.
Project Documents
• Final Report : Development of a microarray for the detection of exotic, endemic, zoonotic and emerging viruses in avian and other species   (737k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2004

To: 2008

Cost: £424,944
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Institute for Animal Health (BBSRC)
Animal Diseases              
Animal Health              
Plants and Animals              
Vector-Borne Viral Diseases              
Fields of Study
Animal Health