|Lab Finds New Tools to Fight Infectious Disease
The Jerome L. and Dawn Greene Infectious Disease Laboratory at the Mailman School of Public Health has been on the forefront of innovative research and training programs in infectious diseases since it was established in 2003. Led by W. Ian Lipkin, M.D., the Jerome L. and Dawn Greene Professor of Epidemiology and professor of neurology and pathology at P&S, the Greene Laboratory scientists are pioneers in the field of pathogen surveillance and discovery, developing state-of-the-art technologies to provide rapid diagnosis of infectious diseases.
“Increasing international travel, trafficking in wildlife, political instability, climate change, and terrorism have made emerging infectious diseases a global concern. The most important first step in dealing with outbreaks is accurate identification of the causative agent. Diagnostic intelligence is critical, particularly in instances where the agents are encountered out of their natural geographic context,” Dr. Lipkin says.
Here are two recent highlights from the Greene Laboratory:
New respiratory virus discovered
Methods invented in the Greene Lab were used to analyze respiratory samples collected from patients with influenza-like illness in New York state during the 2004 and 2005 flu seasons. A new type of rhinovirus was discovered that accounted for the majority of disease in patients not infected with influenza virus. Subsequent studies in Australia, Germany and Thailand confirmed this virus is circulating globally and is a major cause of respiratory disease. Their discovery enabled the development of specific tests for infection and will ultimately guide the development of new drugs and vaccines.
Invention of the GreeneChip
A diagnostic tool created in the Laboratory allows sensitive detection of viruses, bacteria and parasites in clinical and environmental samples. The GreeneChip is the most comprehensive system for differential diagnosis of infectious diseases. After proving its utility with samples obtained during an outbreak of Marburg virus in Angola, Dr. Lipkin and his team were asked by WHO to deploy the GreeneChip in the Global Laboratory Network to support the Network’s use in the field for investigating unexplained respiratory disease, encephalitides, and diarrheal diseases. Greene scientists are also using this new technology to examine wildlife for clues to new agents that have potential to spread to humans and to explore the role of infection in diseases where classical microbiological methods have failed.