Doctor of Philosophy, Jawaharlal Nehru University (2010)
Benjamin Pinsky, Postdoctoral Faculty Sponsor
Febrile travelers from countries with unique endemic pathogens pose a significant diagnostic challenge. In this report, we describe the case of a Tongan man presenting with fever, rash, and altered mental status. The diagnosis of Chikungunya encephalitis was made using a laboratory-developed real-time RT-PCR and serologic testing.
View details for DOI 10.1128/JCM.01288-14
View details for PubMedID 24958800
In immunosuppressed hosts, the development of multidrug resistance complicates the treatment of cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection. Improved genotypic detection of impending drug resistance may follow from recent technical advances. A severely T-cell-depleted patient with chronic lymphocytic leukemia developed CMV pneumonia and high plasma viral loads that were poorly responsive to antiviral therapy. Serial plasma specimens were analyzed for mutant viral populations by conventional and high-throughput deep-sequencing methods. Uncharacterized mutations were phenotyped for drug resistance using recombinant viruses. Conventional genotyping detected viruses with the UL97 kinase substitution C607Y after ganciclovir treatment, a transient subpopulation of UL54 polymerase L773V mutants first detected 8 weeks after foscarnet was started, and a subpopulation of a mutant with deletion of UL54 codons 981 and 982 2 months after the addition of cidofovir. Deep sequencing of the same serial specimens revealed the same UL54 mutants sooner, along with a more complex evolution of known and newly recognized mutant subpopulations missed by conventional sequencing. The UL54 exonuclease substitutions D413N, K513R, and C539G were newly shown to confer ganciclovir-cidofovir resistance, while L773V was shown to confer foscarnet resistance and add to the ganciclovir resistance conferred by UL97 C607Y. Increased sequencing depth provided a more timely and detailed diagnosis of mutant viral subpopulations that evolved with changing anti-CMV therapy.
View details for DOI 10.1128/AAC.03214-14
View details for PubMedID 24890586
Dengue, leptospirosis, and malaria are among the most common etiologies of systemic undifferentiated febrile illness (UFI) among travelers to the developing world, and these pathogens all have the potential to cause life-threatening illness in returned travelers. The current study describes the development of an internally controlled multiplex nucleic acid amplification test for the detection of dengue virus (DENV) and Leptospira and Plasmodium species, with a specific callout for Plasmodium falciparum (referred to as the UFI assay). During analytical evaluation, the UFI assay displayed a wide dynamic range and a sensitive limit of detection for each target, including all four DENV serotypes. In a clinical evaluation including 210 previously tested samples, the sensitivities of the UFI assay were 98% for DENV (58/59 samples detected) and 100% for Leptospira and malaria (65/65 and 20/20 samples, respectively). Malaria samples included all five Plasmodium species known to cause human disease. The specificity of the UFI assay was 100% when evaluated with a panel of 66 negative clinical samples. Furthermore, no amplification was observed when extracted nucleic acids from related pathogens were tested. Compared with whole-blood samples, the UFI assay remained positive for Plasmodium in 11 plasma samples from patients with malaria (parasitemia levels of 0.0037 to 3.4%). The syndrome-based design of the UFI assay, combined with the sensitivities of the component tests, represents a significant improvement over the individual diagnostic tests available for these pathogens.
View details for DOI 10.1128/JCM.00341-14
View details for Web of Science ID 000337919500028
View details for PubMedID 24671788
Nevus sebaceus (NS) is a common congenital cutaneous hamartoma that typically presents on the scalp and face at birth or in early childhood. Occasionally NS can be associated with the Schimmelpenning-Feuerstein-Mims syndrome, which presents with concomitant severe neurologic, skeletal, cardiovascular, ophthalmic, and genitourologic disorders. In a previous study, maternal transmission of the human papillomavirus (HPV) and infection of ectodermal stem cells by HPV was postulated to result in the development of NS. In this study we aimed to determine the incidence of HPV infection in pediatric NS samples to further clarify the potential link between HPV and the pathogenesis of NS. NS tissue samples (N = 16) were analyzed for HPV DNA using type-specific, real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) targeting HPV 6, 11, 16, and 18 and conventional PCR with modified general primers designed for broad-range HPV detection. The tissues were also histologically evaluated for evidence of HPV infection. HPV DNA was not detected in any of the NS tissue samples using PCR and HPV-associated histopathologic changes were absent in all 16 NS tissues. HPV infection is an unlikely etiologic cause of NS.
View details for DOI 10.1111/pde.12249
View details for Web of Science ID 000334884300017
View details for PubMedID 24224641
BK polyomavirus (BKV) is an emerging pathogen in immunocompromised individuals. BKV subtype III is rarely identified and has not previously been associated with disease. Here we provide the whole-genome sequence of a subtype III BKV from a pediatric kidney transplant patient with polyomavirus-associated nephropathy.
View details for DOI 10.1128/JCM.01801-13
View details for Web of Science ID 000327147100067
View details for PubMedID 24048534
Antiviral therapy for cytomegalovirus (CMV) plays an important role in the clinical management of solid organ and hematopoietic stem cell transplant recipients. However, CMV antiviral therapy can be complicated by drug resistance associated with mutations in the phosphotransferase UL97 and the DNA polymerase UL54. We have developed an amplicon-based high-throughput sequencing strategy for detecting CMV drug resistance mutations in clinical plasma specimens using a microfluidics PCR platform for multiplexed library preparation and a benchtop next-generation sequencing instrument. Plasmid clones of the UL97 and UL54 genes were used to demonstrate the low overall empirical error rate of the assay (0.189%) and to develop a statistical algorithm for identifying authentic low-abundance variants. The ability of the assay to detect resistance mutations was tested with mixes of wild-type and mutant plasmids, as well as clinical CMV isolates and plasma samples that were known to contain mutations that confer resistance. Finally, 48 clinical plasma specimens with a range of viral loads (394 to 2,191,011 copies/ml plasma) were sequenced using multiplexing of up to 24 specimens per run. This led to the identification of seven resistance mutations, three of which were present in <20% of the sequenced population. Thus, this assay offers more sensitive detection of minor variants and a higher multiplexing capacity than current methods for the genotypic detection of CMV drug resistance mutations.
View details for DOI 10.1128/JCM.01605-13
View details for Web of Science ID 000325812200035
View details for PubMedID 23985916
Dengue virus (DENV) is the agent of the most common vector-borne disease worldwide. Using 199 clinical samples collected from Nicaragua and Sri Lanka, a laboratory-developed DENV multiplex real-time reverse transcription-PCR (rRT-PCR) proved more clinically sensitive than the FDA-approved CDC assay for DENV serotypes 1 to 4 when measured against a composite reference standard, with sensitivities of 97.4% versus 87.1%, respectively.
View details for DOI 10.1128/JCM.01359-13
View details for Web of Science ID 000324624300039
View details for PubMedID 23903549
A number of diagnostic tests are available for dengue virus (DENV) detection, including a variety of nucleic-acid amplification tests (NAATs). However, reports describing the direct comparison of different NAATs are limited. In this study, we report the design of an internally-controlled, real-time reverse-transcriptase PCR (rRT-PCR) that detects all four DENV serotypes but does not distinguish between them (the pan-DENV assay). Two-hundred clinical samples were then tested using four different DENV RT-PCR assays: the pan-DENV assay; a commercially-produced, internally-controlled DENV rRT-PCR (the Altona assay); a widely-used hemi-nested RT-PCR; and a serotype-specific, multiplex rRT-PCR assay. The pan-DENV assay had a linear range extending from 7.0 to 1.0 log10 complimentary DNA (cDNA) equivalents/μL and a lower limit of 95% detection ranging from 1.7 to 7.6 cDNA equivalents/μL depending on the serotype. When measured against a composite reference standard, the pan-DENV assay proved more clinically sensitive than either the Altona or hemi-nested assays, with a sensitivity of 98.0% compared to 72.3% and 78.8%, respectively (p≤0.0001 for both comparisons). The pan-DENV assay detected DENV in significantly more samples collected on or after day five of illness and in a subgroup of patients with detectable anti-DENV IgM at presentation. No significant difference in sensitivity was observed between the pan-DENV assay and the multiplex rRT-PCR, despite the presence of an internal control in the former. The detection of DENV RNA late in the course of clinical illness should serve to lengthen the period during which a confirmed, molecular diagnosis of DENV infection can be provided.
View details for DOI 10.1128/JCM.00548-13
View details for Web of Science ID 000320595800024
View details for PubMedID 23637298
Dengue fever results from infection with one or more of four different serotypes of dengue virus (DENV). Despite the widespread nature of this infection, available molecular diagnostics have significant limitations. The aim of this study was to develop a multiplex, real-time, reverse transcriptase-PCR (rRT-PCR) for the detection, quantitation, and serotyping of dengue viruses in a single reaction.An rRT-PCR assay targeting the 5' untranslated region and capsid gene of the DENV genome was designed using molecular beacons to provide serotype specificity. Using reference DENV strains, the assay was linear from 7.0 to 1.0 log₁₀ cDNA equivalents/µL for each serotype. The lower limit of detection using genomic RNA was 0.3, 13.8, 0.8, and 12.4 cDNA equivalents/µL for serotypes 1-4, respectively, which was 6- to 275-fold more analytically sensitive than a widely used hemi-nested RT-PCR. Using samples from Nicaragua collected within the first five days of illness, the multiplex rRT-PCR was positive in 100% (69/69) of specimens that were positive by the hemi-nested assay, with full serotype agreement. Furthermore, the multiplex rRT-PCR detected DENV RNA in 97.2% (35/36) of specimens from Sri Lanka positive for anti-DENV IgM antibodies compared to just 44.4% (16/36) by the hemi-nested RT-PCR. No amplification was observed in 80 clinical samples sent for routine quantitative hepatitis C virus testing or when genomic RNA from other flaviviruses was tested.This single-reaction, quantitative, multiplex rRT-PCR for DENV serotyping demonstrates superior analytical and clinical performance, as well as simpler workflow compared to the hemi-nested RT-PCR reference. In particular, this multiplex rRT-PCR detects viral RNA and provides serotype information in specimens collected more than five days after fever onset and from patients who had already developed anti-DENV IgM antibodies. The implementation of this assay in dengue-endemic areas has the potential to improve both dengue diagnosis and epidemiologic surveillance.
View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pntd.0002116
View details for PubMedID 23638191
Influenza infections are associated with thousands of hospital admissions and deaths each year. Rapid detection of influenza is important for prompt initiation of antiviral therapy and appropriate patient triage. In this study the Cepheid Xpert Flu assay was compared with two rapid antigen tests, BinaxNOW Influenza A & B and BD Directigen EZ Flu A+B, as well as direct fluorescent antibody testing for the rapid detection of influenza A and B. Using real-time, hydrolysis probe-based, reverse transcriptase PCR as the reference method, influenza A sensitivity was 97.3% for Xpert Flu, 95.9% for direct fluorescent antibody testing, 62.2% for BinaxNOW, and 71.6% for BD Directigen. Influenza B sensitivity was 100% for Xpert Flu and direct fluorescent antibody testing, 54.5% for BinaxNOW, and 48.5% for BD Directigen. Specificity for influenza A was 100% for Xpert Flu, BinaxNOW, and BD Directigen, and 99.2% for direct fluorescent antibody testing. All methods demonstrated 100% specificity for influenza B. These findings support the use of the Xpert Flu assay in settings requiring urgent diagnosis of influenza A and B.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jviromet.2012.07.023
View details for Web of Science ID 000312763600024
View details for PubMedID 22841669