19 Jun 2013, BioSpectrum Bureau , BioSpectrum
Singapore: Researchers at the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit, the Wellcome Trust South East Asia Major Overseas Programme and the Academic Medical Center at the University of Amsterdam, have discovered a new virus in the fluid around the brain of patients with brain infections of unknown cause in Vietnam.
The virus, which has been tentatively named CyCV-VN and belongs to a family of viruses called the Circoviridae, was detected in 26-out-of-642 patients with brain infections of known and unknown causes. Doctors have until now failed to find the cause of the infection in more than half of all neurological cases, despite extensive diagnostic efforts.
Using next-generation gene sequencing techniques, the team sequenced the entire genetic material of the virus. The team also found that Circoviridae family of viruses had previously only been associated with disease in animals, including birds and pigs.
The researchers were not able to detect CyCV-VN in blood samples from the patients, but it was present in eight-out-of-188 faecal samples from healthy children. The virus was also detected in more than half of faecal samples from chickens and pigs taken from the local area of one of the patients from whom the virus was initially isolated, which may suggest an animal source of infection.
The study was funded by the Wellcome Trust, the European Union and the Li Ka Shing Foundation-University of Oxford Global Health Program, and has been published in the journal mBio from the American Society for Microbiology.