Researchers at Public Health England and Plymouth University School of Biomedical and Healthcare Sciences recently launched a trial to identify and better understand pathogens in Ebola-positive and Ebola-negative patients from Sierra Leone who experienced symptoms of viral hemorrhagic fever, according to a press release. They also are investigating how nonviral hemorrhagic pathogens in patients coinfected with Ebola virus affected their clinical outcomes.
For the trial, Christopher H. Logue, PhD, professor at Public Health England, and colleagues will analyze the genome of viruses in blood samples obtained from 100 patients with symptoms of viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF) who were treated at three Ebola treatment centers between 2014 and 2015. The researchers will determine which pathogens were causing illness in patients who tested negative for Ebola virus, and identify other pathogens that patients with Ebola virus infection virus harbored.
In addition to identifying the pathogens, the researchers will assess their impact on the immune system by injecting them into healthy human blood cells, the release said. Aside from Ebola virus disease, the study results may help guide the diagnosis of other VHFs, including Marburg virus, Lassa virus, Yellow Fever virus, Rift Valley fever virus and dengue virus.
"The 2013-2015 Ebola outbreak in West Africa galvanized the research community into better understanding the virus, the illness it causes, and finding ways in which to detect and combat it,” Logue said in the release. “What is new about our research is by combining metagenomic sequencing and immunology strategies, we seek to further understand the effect that other circulating pathogens may have had in patients with VHF-like symptoms but without the Ebola virus. Of equal importance, we will be able see what pathogens the patients testing positive for Ebola may have been coinfected with and the roles these had on patient clinical outcome."
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