Rapid and accurate diagnosis of infectious diseases helps public health officials manage disease outbreaks and enables health care providers to prescribe the correct treatment early on. Many different pathogens, notably those that cause emerging infectious diseases, have no distinctive symptoms. This makes diagnosis difficult, particularly in the early stages of infection when interventional strategies are optimal. An international group of researchers has recently developed a new technology for pinpointing pathogens.

Called the "GreeneChip," this device consists of a glass slide onto which are attached nearly 30,000 pieces of genetic material taken from thousands of different viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites. When human fluid and tissue samples are applied to the chip, these probes will stick to any closely related genetic material in the samples. This allows the rapid and specific identification of any pathogens therein-even those related to but genetically distinct from the ones represented on the chip.

In a new paper this week, the researchers describe the first successful tests of the technology, which include detecting a previously undiagnosed fatal case of malaria that occurred during an outbreak of Marburg hemorrhagic fever in Angola in 2004-2005. This technology may improve the capacity for emerging infectious diseases surveillance and outbreak response.


ARTICLE: "Panmicrobial oligonucleotide array for diagnosis of infectious diseases" by G Palacios et al. Emerging Infectious Diseases cdc/eid/13/1/06-8037.htm (2006). This study was conducted by scientists at Columbia University; Stanford University; the University of Chicago; the Institute of Enzymology, Budapest, Hungary; the Public Health Agency of Canada, Winnipeg, Canada; the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases; the National Institutes of Health; the Robert Koch Institut, Berlin; Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Madrid; the World Health Organization; and the University of Manitoba.

SPOKESPERSONS: Maria Y. Giovanni, Ph.D., Assistant Director for Microbial Genomics and Advanced Technology, NIAID Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases.

Karen A. Lacourciere, Ph.D., Program Officer, Basic Influenza Research, Respiratory Disease Branch, NIAID Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases.

NIAID is a component of the National Institutes of Health. NIAID supports basic and applied research to prevent, diagnose and treat infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections, influenza, tuberculosis, malaria and illness from potential agents of bioterrorism. NIAID also supports research on basic immunology, transplantation and immune-related disorders, including autoimmune diseases, asthma and allergies.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH)-The Nation's Medical Research Agency-includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit nih/.

Contact: Jason Socrates Bardi
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

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