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Pilot project: Identification of RNA and DNA viruses in CSF of patients with aseptic meningoencephalitis of unknown etiology by pyrosequencing

In up to 50% of aseptic meningitis/encephalitis cases, the nature of the aetiological agent remains unexplained. Some of these diseases could be caused by zoonotic arboviruses, which have so far not been researched much, for that have no diagnostic methods available. However, it is also likely that new, previously unknown viruses and microorganisms are the cause of these diseases. The new high-throughput sequencing technique makes it possible for the first time to perform metagenome analyses on clinical samples and thus discover new meningitis/encephalitis pathogens.
In this pilot project, a metagenome analysis of clinically well characterized cerebrospinal fluid samples with unknown etiology was carried out in order to discover new pathogens that cause aseptic meningitis/encephalitis using this technique.
First, cerebrospinal fluid samples were identified and tested negative with all available molecular diagnostic methods for zoonotic arboviruses. To analyze these clinical samples, protocols for metagenome sequencing of DNA and RNA viruses had to be optimized and validated to finally develop a standard protocol (SOP). These will shortly be made available to all scientists via the zoonoses platform.

Coordinator: Dr. Meik Dilcher (University Medicine Göttingen)

Project partner: PD Dr. med. Ursula Meyer-König (University Hospital Freiburg)

Funding period: 01.02.2012 to 30.06.2013