Global surveillance of pathogens such as influenza is a very important approach to combating the pandemic spread of disease. According to the World Health Organization, annual epidemics cause approximately 5 million cases of severe illness, with 250,000 to 500,000 cases leading to death. In the United States alone, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the flu causes more than 200,000 hospitalizations and 36,000 deaths each year, with medical costs estimated at $10 billion.
Scientists, programmers, and engineers from LANL and the UCLA School of Public Health have been developing an HTLN to address global influenza surveillance. The initial prototype module underwent testing at Los Alamos in June 2009. Since then, the research team has designed high-speed and high-volume laboratory capabilities for extensive surveillance, and rapid, accurate detection and analysis of pathogens.
The automated workflow consists of field and epidemiological data surveillance, sample transportation, laboratory testing, data management, and analysis. The first node of the HTLN is housed in the Biosafety Level 3-enhanced facility of the Global Bio Lab at UCLA, which is designed to work with highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses and other potential select agents. The HTLN's novel approach to influenza surveillance will enable sequencing of as many as 10,000 full virus genomes per year, more than the total of all full influenza genomes sequenced to date.
"The HTLN project provides an opportunity to deploy high-throughput technology in a way that can protect the health of so many people," said Tracy Erkkila, LANL project manager. "We are looking forward to working with the talented team at HighRes Biosolutions to develop this important component of the HTLN project."
"A project like the HTLN requires innovative approaches to laboratory automation that provides for growth and the flexibility to leverage technological ad
|Contact: James E. Rickman|
DOE/Los Alamos National Laboratory