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Rapid, broad countermeasures sought against mystery infections
Date:4/8/2014

ry Syndrome, also known as SARS, avian influenza, and others, according to Angela Rasmussen, a UW research scientist and project manager for the new UW research center.

She added that the new Center will allow the Katze lab to leverage its extensive experience with genomics and systems biology to develop new diagnostic tools and prognostic assays.

The lab, she noted, also wants to identify drugs that can be repurposed for timely responses to epidemics and biodefense threats.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases reports that it has shifted its strategy away from "one-bug-one-drug" toward building a more flexible, broad-spectrum arsenal against multiple pathogens.

Newly emerging pathogens vary in the degree of illness they cause. Some people can be infected with an unheard-of virus and have no symptoms. Other times, viruses that have never struck a human population before can have lethal manifestations, such as blood loss, brain swelling, or extreme difficulty breathing.

The Katze lab will analyze how infected organisms, their genes, cells and immune systems, and their viral attackers interact with each other. They will use machine-learning computer modeling, profiles of gene transcriptions and other measures of genome-wide activity, as well as non-linear geometric and other mathematical methods, to discover ways to measure infectious disease severity. These measurements point out distinctive signatures in the hosts' reaction to infection.

The signatures might assist in diagnosing illness, predicting disease outcome, and finding new ways of modulating the host response to ward off or tame pathogens.

The researchers will also mine drug databases to uncover existing therapies to repurpose. Their host signature method complements traditional emerging infectious disease or bioterrorism research, which often depends on locating, cultivating and identifying the virus or other causati
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Contact: Leila Gray
leilag@uw.edu
206-685-0381
University of Washington
Source:Eurekalert  

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