Development and Validation of an Inexpensive, High Throughput System for Detection and Quantification of Respiratory Viruses in Clinical Research Specimens

Principal Investigator: Tasnee Chonmaitree, MD

Respiratory viruses are the most common cause of symptomatic human infections. They are the major burden to human health and make significant impact on healthcare costs. In children, upper respiratory tract infections (URIs) are exceedingly common and often complicated by acute otitis media (AOM) and sinusitis, and may lead to bronchiolitis and pneumonia. Respiratory viruses are of wide variety and new viruses continue to be discovered. Research that will lead to control of respiratory illnesses overall requires knowledge and understanding of the contribution of each specific respiratory virus. Identification of the specific virus(es) in clinical research setting has been difficult due to a lack of uniform and sensitive assays that are cost-effective and able to identify broad spectrum of viruses.

Researchers of the CTSA-Multidisciplinary Research Team (MTT) on Pediatric Respiratory Infections have longstanding interests in studying: 1) the contribution of viruses to AOM complicating URI (Chonmaitree, et al.), and 2) pathogenesis of RSV and hMPV infections (Garofalo et al.), with the long-term goals to identify possible strategies for more effective prevention and/or treatment of these infections. One of the short-term goals is to increase collaboration between the two research groups within the MTT and secure a viral identification system that may serve as the ‘virology core’ for future research center grant/ program project grant applications.

We propose to develop and validate an onsite, inexpensive, high throughput system for identification and quantification of respiratory viruses in clinical research specimens. We will test more than 1000 archived specimens and specimens being collected as part of an ongoing research for the following viruses: adenovirus, influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), human metapneumovirus (hMPV) and bocavirus. Validation will be performed by comparison with previously available results for adenovirus, influenza and RSV; testing for hMPV and bocavirus will be validated with results obtained from a study comparing two commercial molecular assays.

Success of this proposed project will generate new knowledge on the role of hMPV and bocavirus in AOM complicating URI as well as create an onsite, cost-effective system for virus identification in clinical research samples. This will build a strong foundation for future clinical research applications related to Pediatric Respiratory Infections.