Development, validation and implementation of molecular and genomic tools to improve the surveillance of arbovirus in the Peruvian Amazon

Project Details

Layman's description

Fever is one of the main reasons for outpatient consultations. In tropical settings, malaria is the first cause to be ruled out. After discarding acute respiratory infections (ARI), diarrheal fevers, urinary tract infections (UTI) and other focal infections, the remaining are classified as undifferentiated febrile illness, with arboviral infections representing a significant burden.

Clinical differentiation of arboviral etiology is challenging due to the non-specific symptoms that can be confused with the clinical manifestations of other febrile diseases geographically overlapping in endemic areas. Therefore, diagnosis cannot be made on clinical and epidemiological data alone and requires sensitive and specific laboratory techniques. Since many diagnostic assays require the expertise of centralized laboratories, in rural areas the detection and characterization of the disease-causing pathogen often happens with considerable delay - due to the difficulties in detection, diagnostic and clinical skills, communication, and infrastructure. This is one of the reasons why the epidemiology for emerging arboviruses remains unclear for extended periods after the first outbreak. Robust test systems for virologic confirmation of emerging arboviruses are either not available at all, or exist only as cost-intensive and time-consuming virus-specific tests.

This PhD project is nested in the KUNASA project and we want to i) develop and validate the multiplex-PCR of four arboviruses on a sample-to-result system (ARIES, Luminex), ii) apply the ARIES in a low resource setting for the multiplex molecular identification of highly-prevalent arboviruses in Peru (i.e. dengue, Zika, Yellow fever and Chikungunya viruses) (iii) identify RNA viruses other than dengue, Zika, Yellow fever and Chikungunya using a metagenomic sequencing approach in sera from acute febrile patients and iv) develop new molecular tests for other common (arbo)viruses causing acute fever in Peru.

The expected results include improved access to diagnostics for emerging arboviruses in the Peruvian Amazon. Besides, based on the arbovirus risk estimations and surveillance in Peru, the project would contribute to inform recommendations at the level of national and supranational stakeholders, from academia, public health and industry.
Effective start/end date8/06/23 → …

IWETO expertise domain

  • B780-tropical-medicine