Clinical research platform for untargeted RNA virus detection in tropical fever patient populations: construction and application

Project Details

Layman's description

Sequencing technologies form the basis for future diagnostic platforms. Interpretation is crucial and will be influenced by typology of the patient population. The institute of tropical medicine, Antwerp (ITM) is ideally placed to implement and advance such technology not only for travel medicine purposes in Belgium but also through its strong connection with South partners home to many endemic and emerging infectious diseases. Important sample collections have been gathered over recent years through collaborative research projects on acute undifferentiated febrile illness with partner institutions in the South (Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Latin-America) and clinical studies in the ITM travel clinic. Interestingly, targeted diagnostic tools (e.g. rapid tests, serology and PCR) have failed to identify underlying causative agents in most samples.

These ‘undetermined’ fever patient samples constitute an extremely rich pool for untargeted virome fishing expeditions. Doing so, we hypothesize to uncover and describe endemically circulating viral pathogens (and potentially also new viruses). We here describe the sequencing tools and bioinformatics framework needed for ITM to advance the tropical virus diagnostic field and picking the fruits of available sample resources. Beyond available samples, this platform will form the basis for future prospective (one-health) epidemiologic viral outbreak surveillance (combining human, vector and animal reservoir sampling) to be unfolded locally in tropical settings. We further describe research lines presentable to external funding agencies that build on the herein developed technology: innovative enriching methods and the immunoglobulin viral complexome.
Short titleMetagenomics for tropical fevers
AcronymSOFI 2021
Effective start/end date1/01/2131/12/24


  • Flemish Government - Department of Economy, Science & Innovation: €599,983.00


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