BOULDER (12/4/18) -- InDevR scientists are collaborating with scientists at the Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences (AFRIMS), part of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, to evaluate the performance of FluChip-8G Insight system for rapidly characterizing influenza virus subtype from human and animal-origin samples. The research-use-only FluChip-8G Insight assay is not intended for diagnostic purposes but rather as a fast and easy way to determine the subtype of seasonal and non-seasonal influenza viruses.
The FluChip-8G Insight system has been installed at AFRIMS sites in Bangkok, Kathmandu, and Manila. AFRIMS conducts influenza surveillance throughout the world as part of a global network of sites keeping track of influenza viruses circulating in humans and animal populations.
Colonel Louis Macareo, Chief of the Department of Virology at AFRIMS commented that "We are pleased to collaborate with InDevR scientists to evaluate the performance of FluChip-8G Insight system for rapidly characterizing influenza viruses." AFRIMS scientists plan to test the system at AFRIMS headquarters in Bangkok Thailand, at the Walter Reed AFRIMS Research Unit Nepal (WARUN), and at the Philippines-AFRIMS Virology Research Unit (PAVRU). All three sites will conduct side-by-side performance comparison with real-time RT-PCR assays for typing and subtyping influenza viruses being utilized as part of DoD surveillance efforts. The long-term objective is to qualify the system for reflex testing of influenza positive samples for rapid identification of influenza A subtype and influenza B lineage.
FluChip-8G leverages advancements in artificial intelligence to distill complex data into a simple answer to identify flu viruses. The technology is based on a microarray that quickly probes a large portion of influenza's viral genome. Human experts who have the required skill to curate and interpret such a massive amount of data from each sample are hard to come by, especially in remote locations where new flu viruses with pandemic potential are likely to originate. To tackle that problem, the developers of FluChip-8G built an "expert" into every box. Similar to the way social media sites are able to identify individual faces in a photograph, the FluChip-8G system uses a pattern recognition algorithm to rapidly identify flu viruses. This allows those tracking flu viruses in a variety of settings including low and middle-income countries to rapidly determine if a flu virus with pandemic potential is causing infections or outbreaks.
According to Dr. Nancy Cox, the former Director of the CDC's Influenza Division and the WHO Collaborating Center for Influenza in Atlanta, "By eliminating analysis of large amounts of complex data generated by whole genome sequencing, the FluChip-8G technology fulfills the need for immediate answers in surveillance labs distributed throughout the world that have less resources."
This reaction was echoed by Dr. Rangarajan Sampath, the Chief Scientific Officer at FIND "The FluChip-8G technology seems very promising for filling a critical niche in global influenza surveillance. The current approaches for identifying non-seasonal viruses are inadequate and/or time consuming."
Advanced development was funded by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (HHSO100201400010C, HHS0100201500024C).
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