"The flu chip assay detected all of the six swine-origin H1N1 viruses tested, and the resulting pattern, or signature, on the microarray was dramatically different than the signature for seasonal A/H1N1 and A/H3N2 viruses. Interestingly, the signature of the swine H1N1 virus indicated an avian component within the M-gene, which is consistent with its reported Eurasian lineage”, said Erica Dawson, the lead scientist on the project.
The researchers expect the flu chip to be a powerful addition to the influenza surveillance toolkit since it will be less susceptible to failure than current qRT-PCR assays as the virus continues to evolve. The reason that the M-gene version of the chip is more robust has to do with the fact that the diagnostic target is a stable, internal gene which codes for the virus' matrix proteins.
Current qRT-PCR subtyping assays target a more highly mutable gene that codes for a protein, hemagglutinin (HA), which is subject to antigenic drift. If the HA gene changes in a critical region, qRT-PCR will fail and the researcher will not know why until the gene is re-sequenced, according to the developers.
Based on these early results, the developers will immediately begin manufacturing flu chip kits for placement in a limited number of State Public Health labs.
MEDICA.de; Source: University of Colorado