Posted on Feb 05, 2019, 7 p.m.
A computational method that designs molecular baits for any strains of virus known to infect humans has been developed from Harvard and the Broad Institute of MIT, as published in the journal Nature Biotechnology.
The new Compact Aggregation of Targets for Comprehensive Hybridization technology could help genomic sequencing center across the world to monitor disease more cheaply and effectively to control and manage outbreaks. CATCH enables researchers to design probes to capture genetic material of any combination of microbes including viral strains that infect humans.
After inputting data uploaded to the National Center for Biotechnology Information’s GenBank sequence database of genomes of human virus, CATCH will be able to determine optimal sets of probes for recovering genetic material. Sequences are then sent to companies that synthesize research probes, which can be used to isolate the desired microbial DNA to be sequenced enriching clinical samples for microbes of interest.
Probes were developed using this technique that helped the team to discover that Zika had spread to several geographic regions months before scientist had been able to detect it. CATCH technology has potential to improve genomic surveillance and ability to inform future attempts to control epidemics; and may be a tool for investigating undiagnosed fevers that are suspected to be caused by a virus. The software has been made publicly available on GitHub.
Materials provided by:
Note: Content may be edited for style and length.