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1.
Biomolecules ; 13(1):133, 2023.
Article in English | MDPI | ID: covidwho-2199741

ABSTRACT

Several studies have identified rare and common genetic variants associated with severe COVID-19, but no study has reported genetic determinants as predisposition factors for neurological complications. In this report, we identified rare/unique structural variants (SVs) implicated in neurological functions in two individuals with neurological manifestations of COVID-19. This report highlights the possible genetic link to the neurological symptoms with COVID-19 and calls for a collective effort to study these cohorts for a possible genetic linkage.

2.
Sci Rep ; 12(1): 3480, 2022 03 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1730307

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in significant diversion of human and material resources to COVID-19 diagnostics, to the extent that influenza viruses and co-infection in COVID-19 patients remains undocumented and pose serious public-health consequences. We optimized and validated a highly sensitive RT-PCR based multiplex-assay for the detection of SARS-CoV-2, influenza A and B viruses in a single-test. This study evaluated clinical specimens (n = 1411), 1019 saliva and 392 nasopharyngeal swab (NPS), tested using two-assays: FDA-EUA approved SARS-CoV-2 assay that targets N and ORF1ab gene, and the PKamp-RT-PCR based assay that targets SARS-CoV-2, influenza viruses A and B. Of the 1019 saliva samples, 17.0% (174/1019) tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 using either assay. The detection rate for SARS-CoV-2 was higher with the multiplex assay compared to SARS-specific assay [91.9% (160/174) vs. 87.9% (153/174)], respectively. Of the 392 NPS samples, 10.4% (41/392) tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 using either assay. The detection rate for SARS-CoV-2 was higher with the multiplex assay compared to SARS-specific assay [97.5% (40/41) vs. 92.1% (39/41)], respectively. This study presents clinical validation of a multiplex-PCR assay for testing SARS-CoV-2, influenza A and B viruses, using NPS and saliva samples, and demonstrates the feasibility of implementing the assay without disrupting the existing laboratory workflow.


Subject(s)
Influenza A virus/isolation & purification , Influenza B virus/isolation & purification , Multiplex Polymerase Chain Reaction/methods , Nasopharynx/virology , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Saliva/virology , Humans , Limit of Detection , Reproducibility of Results
3.
iScience ; 25(2): 103760, 2022 Feb 18.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1683208

ABSTRACT

Impressive global efforts have identified both rare and common gene variants associated with severe COVID-19 using sequencing technologies. However, these studies lack the sensitivity to accurately detect several classes of variants, especially large structural variants (SVs), which account for a substantial proportion of genetic diversity including clinically relevant variation. We performed optical genome mapping on 52 severely ill COVID-19 patients to identify rare/unique SVs as decisive predisposition factors associated with COVID-19. We identified 7 SVs involving genes implicated in two key host-viral interaction pathways: innate immunity and inflammatory response, and viral replication and spread in nine patients, of which SVs in STK26 and DPP4 genes are the most intriguing candidates. This study is the first to systematically assess the potential role of SVs in the pathogenesis of COVID-19 severity and highlights the need to evaluate SVs along with sequencing variants to comprehensively associate genomic information with interindividual variability in COVID-19 phenotypes.

4.
iScience ; 2022.
Article in English | EuropePMC | ID: covidwho-1615353

ABSTRACT

Impressive global efforts have identified both rare and common gene variants associated with severe COVID-19 using sequencing technologies. However, these studies lack the sensitivity to accurately detect several classes of variants, especially large structural variants (SVs), which account for a substantial proportion of genetic diversity including clinically relevant variation. We performed optical genome mapping on 52 severely-ill COVID-19 patients to identify rare/unique SVs as decisive predisposition factors associated with COVID-19. We identified 7 SVs involving genes implicated in two key host-viral interaction pathways: innate immunity and inflammatory response, and viral replication and spread in 9 patients, of which SVs in STK26 and DPP4 genes are the most intriguing candidates. This study is the first to systematically assess the potential role of SVs in the pathogenesis of COVID-19 severity and highlights the need to evaluate SVs along with sequencing variants to comprehensively associate genomic information with inter-individual variability in COVID-19 phenotypes. Graphical

5.
Viruses ; 13(10)2021 10 14.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1470994

ABSTRACT

Two serious public health challenges have emerged in the current COVID-19 pandemic namely, deficits in SARS-CoV-2 variant monitoring and neglect of other co-circulating respiratory viruses. Additionally, accurate assessment of the evolution, extent, and dynamics of the outbreak is required to understand the transmission of the virus. To address these challenges, we evaluated 533 samples using a high-throughput next-generation sequencing (NGS) respiratory viral panel (RVP) that includes 40 viral pathogens. The performance metrics revealed a PPA, NPA, and accuracy of 95.98%, 85.96%, and 94.4%, respectively. The clade for pangolin lineage B that contains certain distant variants, including P4715L in ORF1ab, Q57H in ORF3a, and S84L in ORF8 covarying with the D614G spike protein mutation, were the most prevalent early in the pandemic in Georgia, USA. The isolates from the same county formed paraphyletic groups, indicating virus transmission between counties. The study demonstrates the clinical and public health utility of the NGS-RVP to identify novel variants that can provide actionable information to prevent or mitigate emerging viral threats and models that provide insights into viral transmission patterns and predict transmission/resurgence of regional outbreaks as well as providing critical information on co-circulating respiratory viruses that might be independent factors contributing to the global disease burden.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/epidemiology , Genome, Viral/genetics , Respiratory Tract Infections/diagnosis , Respiratory Tract Infections/virology , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19/transmission , High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing , Humans , Limit of Detection , Phylogeny , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics
7.
Diagnostics (Basel) ; 11(9)2021 Sep 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1390561

ABSTRACT

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-Cov-2) is an infectious virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) transmitted mainly through droplets and aerosol affecting the respiratory tract and lungs. Little is known regarding why some individuals are more susceptible than others and develop severe symptoms. In this study, we analyzed the nasopharyngeal microbiota profile of aged patients with COVID-19 (asymptomatic vs. symptomatic) vs. healthy individuals. We examined the nasopharynx swab of 84 aged-matched patients, out of which 27 were negative asymptomatic (NegA), 30 were positive asymptomatic (PA), and 27 patients were positive symptomatic (PSY). Our analysis revealed the presence of abundant Cyanobacterial taxa at phylum level in PA (p-value = 0.0016) and PSY (p-value = 0.00038) patients along with an upward trend in the population of Litoricola, Amylibacter, Balneola, and Aeromonas at the genus level. Furthermore, to know the relationship between the nasal microbiota composition and severity of COVID-19, we compared PA and PSY groups. Our data show that the nasal microbiota of PSY patients was significantly enriched with the signatures of two bacterial taxa: Cutibacterium (p-value = 0.045) and Lentimonas (p-value = 0.007). Furthermore, we also found a significantly lower abundance of five bacterial taxa, namely: Prevotellaceae (p-value = 7 × 10-6), Luminiphilus (p-value = 0.027), Flectobacillus (p-value = 0.027), Comamonas (p-value = 0.048), and Jannaschia (p-value = 0.012) in PSY patients. The dysbiosis of the nasal microbiota in COVID-19 positive patients might have a role in contributing to the severity of COVID-19. The findings of our study show that there is a strong correlation between the composition of the nasal microbiota and COVID-19 severity. Further studies are needed to validate our finding in large-scale samples and to correlate immune response (cytokine Strome) and nasal microbiota to identify underlying mechanisms and develop therapeutic strategies against COVID-19.

8.
Front Immunol ; 12: 660019, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1389181

ABSTRACT

SARS-CoV-2 is the cause of a recent pandemic that has led to more than 3 million deaths worldwide. Most individuals are asymptomatic or display mild symptoms, which raises an inherent question as to how does the immune response differs from patients manifesting severe disease? During the initial phase of infection, dysregulated effector immune cells such as neutrophils, macrophages, monocytes, megakaryocytes, basophils, eosinophils, erythroid progenitor cells, and Th17 cells can alter the trajectory of an infected patient to severe disease. On the other hand, properly functioning CD4+, CD8+ cells, NK cells, and DCs reduce the disease severity. Detailed understanding of the immune response of convalescent individuals transitioning from the effector phase to the immunogenic memory phase can provide vital clues to understanding essential variables to assess vaccine-induced protection. Although neutralizing antibodies can wane over time, long-lasting B and T memory cells can persist in recovered individuals. The natural immunological memory captures the diverse repertoire of SARS-CoV-2 epitopes after natural infection whereas, currently approved vaccines are based on a single epitope, spike protein. It is essential to understand the nature of the immune response to natural infection to better identify 'correlates of protection' against this disease. This article discusses recent findings regarding immune response against natural infection to SARS-CoV-2 and the nature of immunogenic memory. More precise knowledge of the acute phase of immune response and its transition to immunological memory will contribute to the future design of vaccines and the identification of variables essential to maintain immune protection across diverse populations.


Subject(s)
CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes/immunology , COVID-19 Vaccines/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Animals , Antibodies, Neutralizing/metabolism , Antibodies, Viral/metabolism , Disease Resistance , Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte/immunology , Humans , Immunity, Cellular , Immunologic Memory
9.
Curr Issues Mol Biol ; 43(2): 845-867, 2021 Jul 30.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1335016

ABSTRACT

This review discusses the current testing methodologies for COVID-19 diagnosis and explores next-generation sequencing (NGS) technology for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 and monitoring phylogenetic evolution in the current COVID-19 pandemic. The review addresses the development, fundamentals, assay quality control and bioinformatics processing of the NGS data. This article provides a comprehensive review of the obstacles and opportunities facing the application of NGS technologies for the diagnosis, surveillance, and study of SARS-CoV-2 and other infectious diseases. Further, we have contemplated the opportunities and challenges inherent in the adoption of NGS technology as a diagnostic test with real-world examples of its utility in the fight against COVID-19.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/virology , High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing/methods , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/genetics , Computational Biology/methods , Humans , Molecular Epidemiology/methods , Pandemics , Phylogeny , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification
10.
Acad Pathol ; 8: 23742895211023948, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1304387

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic, caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, led to unprecedented demands assigned to clinical diagnostic laboratories worldwide, forcing them to make significant changes to their regular workflow as they adapted to new diagnostic tests and sample volumes. Herein, we summarize the modifications/adaptation the laboratory had to exercise to cope with rapidly evolving situations in the current pandemic. In the first phase of the pandemic, the laboratory validated 2 reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction-based assays to test ∼1000 samples/day and rapidly modified procedures and validated various preanalytical and analytical steps to overcome the supply chain constraints that would have otherwise derailed testing efforts. Further, the pooling strategy was validated for wide-scale population screening using nasopharyngeal swab samples and saliva samples. The translational research arm of the laboratory pursued several initiatives to understand the variable clinical manifestations that this virus presented in the population. The phylogenetic evolution of the virus was investigated using next-generation sequencing technology. The laboratory has initiated the formation of a consortium that includes groups investigating genomes at the level of large structural variants, using genome optical mapping via this collaborative global effort. This article summarizes our journey as the laboratory has sought to adapt and continue to positively contribute to the unprecedented demands and challenges of this rapidly evolving pandemic.

11.
J Mol Diagn ; 23(7): 788-795, 2021 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1275505

ABSTRACT

The clinical performance of saliva compared with nasopharyngeal swabs (NPSs) has shown conflicting results in healthcare and community settings. In the present study, a total of 429 matched NPS and saliva sample pairs, collected in either healthcare or community setting, were evaluated. Phase-1 (protocol U) tested 240 matched NPS and saliva sample pairs; phase 2 (SalivaAll protocol) tested 189 matched NPS and saliva sample pairs, with an additional sample homogenization step before RNA extraction. A total of 85 saliva samples were evaluated with both protocols. In phase-1, 28.3% (68/240) samples tested positive for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) from saliva, NPS, or both. The detection rate from saliva was lower compared with that from NPS samples (50.0% versus 89.7%). In phase-2, 50.2% (95/189) samples tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 from saliva, NPS, or both. The detection rate from saliva was higher compared with that from NPS samples (97.8% versus 78.9%). Of the 85 saliva samples evaluated with both protocols, the detection rate was 100% for samples tested with SalivaAll, and 36.7% with protocol U. The limit of detection with SalivaAll protocol was 20 to 60 copies/mL. The pooled testing approach demonstrated a 95% positive and 100% negative percentage agreement. This protocol for saliva samples results in higher sensitivity compared with NPS samples and breaks the barrier to using pooled saliva for SARS-CoV-2 testing.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing/methods , COVID-19/diagnosis , Delivery of Health Care , Mass Screening/methods , Population Surveillance/methods , Residence Characteristics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Saliva/virology , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/virology , Diagnostic Tests, Routine/methods , Georgia/epidemiology , Humans , Limit of Detection , RNA, Viral/genetics , RNA, Viral/isolation & purification , Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction , Sensitivity and Specificity
12.
Diagnostics (Basel) ; 11(5)2021 May 19.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1234682

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: Limitations of widespread current COVID-19 diagnostic testing exist in both the pre-analytical and analytical stages. To alleviate these limitations, we developed a universal saliva processing protocol (SalivaSTAT) that would enable an extraction-free RT-PCR test using commercially available RT-PCR kits. METHODS: We optimized saliva collection devices, heat-shock treatment, and homogenization. Saliva samples (879) previously tested using the FDA-EUA method were reevaluated with the optimized SalivaSTAT protocol using two widely available commercial RT-PCR kits. A five-sample pooling strategy was evaluated as per FDA guidelines. RESULTS: Saliva collection (done without any media) showed performance comparable to that of the FDA-EUA method. The SalivaSTAT protocol was optimized by incubating saliva samples at 95 °C for 30-min and homogenization, followed by RT-PCR assay. The clinical sample evaluation of 630 saliva samples using the SalivaSTAT protocol with PerkinElmer (600-samples) and CDC (30-samples) RT-PCR assay achieved positive (PPA) and negative percent agreements (NPAs) of 95.0% and 100%, respectively. The LoD was established as ~60-180 copies/mL by absolute quantification. Furthermore, a five-sample-pooling evaluation using 250 saliva samples achieved a PPA and NPA of 92% and 100%, respectively. CONCLUSION: We have optimized an extraction-free RT-PCR assay for saliva samples that demonstrates comparable performance to FDA-EUA assay (Extraction and RT-PCR).

14.
EPMA J ; 11(4): 581-601, 2020 Dec.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-932654

ABSTRACT

The long evolutionary battle between humans and pathogens has played an important role in shaping the current network of host-pathogen interactions. Each organ brings new challenges from the perspective of a pathogen to establish a suitable niche for survival while subverting the protective mechanisms of the host. Lungs, the organ for oxygen exchange, have been an easy target for pathogens due to its accessibility. The organ has evolved diverse capabilities to provide the flexibility required for an organism's health and at the same time maintain protective functionality to prevent and resolve assault by pathogens. The pathogenic invasions are strongly challenged by healthy lung architecture which includes the presence and activity of the epithelium, mucous, antimicrobial proteins, surfactants, and immune cells. Competitively, the pathogens in the form of viruses, bacteria, and fungi have evolved an arsenal of strategies that can over-ride the host's protective mechanisms. While bacteria such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tuberculosis) can survive in dormant form for years before getting active in humans, novel pathogens can wreak havoc as they pose a high risk of morbidity and mortality in a very short duration of time. Recently, a coronavirus strain SARS-CoV-2 has caused a pandemic which provides us an opportunity to look at the host manipulative strategies used by respiratory pathogens. Their ability to hide, modify, evade, and exploit cell's processes are key to their survival. While pathogens like M. tuberculosis have been infecting humans for thousands of years, SARS-CoV-2 has been the cause of the recent pandemic. Molecular understanding of the strategies used by these pathogens could greatly serve in design of predictive, preventive, personalized medicine (PPPM). In this article, we have emphasized on the clinically relevant evasive strategies of the pathogens in the lungs with emphasis on M. tuberculosis and SARS-CoV-2. The molecular basis of these evasive strategies illuminated through advances in genomics, cell, and structural biology can assist in the mapping of vulnerable molecular networks which can be exploited translationally. These evolutionary approaches can further assist in generating screening and therapeutic options for susceptible populations and could be a promising approach for the prediction, prevention of disease, and the development of personalized medicines. Further, tailoring the clinical data of COVID-19 patients with their physiological responses in light of known host-respiratory pathogen interactions can provide opportunities to improve patient profiling and stratification according to identified therapeutic targets.

15.
Future Microbiol ; : 1483-1487, 2020 Nov 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-921124

ABSTRACT

RT-PCR-based assays for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 have played an essential role in the current COVID-19 pandemic. However, the sample collection and test reagents are in short supply, primarily due to supply chain issues. Thus, to eliminate testing constraints, we have optimized three key process variables: RNA extraction and RT-PCR reactions, different sample types and media to facilitate SARS-CoV-2 testing. By performing various validation and bridging studies, we have shown that various sample types such as nasopharyngeal swab, bronchioalveolar lavage and saliva, collected using conventional nasopharyngeal swabs, ESwab or 3D-printed swabs and, preserved in viral transport media, universal transport media, 0.9% sodium chloride or Amies media are compatible with RT-PCR assay for COVID-19. Besides, the reduction of PCR reagents by up to fourfold also produces reliable results.

16.
J Mol Diagn ; 22(10): 1294-1299, 2020 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-802774

ABSTRACT

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) testing has lagged in many countries because of test kit shortages and analytical process bottlenecks. This study investigated the feasibility and accuracy of a sample pooling approach for wide-scale population screening for coronavirus disease 2019. A total of 940 nasopharyngeal swab samples (934 negative and 6 positive) previously tested for SARS-CoV-2 were deidentified and assigned random numbers for analysis, and 94 pools of 10 samples each were generated. Automated RNA extraction, followed by RT-PCR, was performed in a 96-well plate. Positive pools were identified, and the individual samples were reanalyzed. Of the 94 pools/wells, four were positive [Ct values: N (22.7 to 28.3), ORF1ab (23.3 to 27.2), and internal control (34.4 to 35.4)]. The 40 samples comprising the four pools were identified and reanalyzed individually; six samples were positive, with Ct values of N gene, ORF1ab, and internal control comparable to their respective wells. Additional experiments were performed on samples with high Ct values, and overall results showed 91.6% positive and 100% negative agreement compared with individual testing approach. Thus, 940 samples were tested in 148 reactions compared with 940 reactions in routine screening. The sample pooling strategy may help catch up with testing needs and minimal turnaround times and facilitate enormous savings on laboratory supplies, extraction, and PCR kits currently in short supply.


Subject(s)
Betacoronavirus/genetics , Clinical Laboratory Techniques/standards , Coronavirus Infections/diagnosis , Diagnostic Tests, Routine/methods , Mass Screening/methods , Pneumonia, Viral/diagnosis , RNA, Viral/genetics , Specimen Handling/standards , Betacoronavirus/isolation & purification , COVID-19 , COVID-19 Testing , Coronavirus Infections/genetics , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Humans , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral/genetics , Pneumonia, Viral/virology , RNA, Viral/analysis , Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction , SARS-CoV-2
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