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Front Cell Infect Microbiol ; 11: 783961, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1630423


The global coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has demonstrated the range of disease severity and pathogen genomic diversity emanating from a singular virus (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, SARS-CoV-2). This diversity in disease manifestations and genomic mutations has challenged healthcare management and resource allocation during the pandemic, especially for countries such as India with a bigger population base. Here, we undertake a combinatorial approach toward scrutinizing the diagnostic and genomic diversity to extract meaningful information from the chaos of COVID-19 in the Indian context. Using methods of statistical correlation, machine learning (ML), and genomic sequencing on a clinically comprehensive patient dataset with corresponding with/without respiratory support samples, we highlight specific significant diagnostic parameters and ML models for assessing the risk of developing severe COVID-19. This information is further contextualized in the backdrop of SARS-CoV-2 genomic features in the cohort for pathogen genomic evolution monitoring. Analysis of the patient demographic features and symptoms revealed that age, breathlessness, and cough were significantly associated with severe disease; at the same time, we found no severe patient reporting absence of physical symptoms. Observing the trends in biochemical/biophysical diagnostic parameters, we noted that the respiratory rate, total leukocyte count (TLC), blood urea levels, and C-reactive protein (CRP) levels were directly correlated with the probability of developing severe disease. Out of five different ML algorithms tested to predict patient severity, the multi-layer perceptron-based model performed the best, with a receiver operating characteristic (ROC) score of 0.96 and an F1 score of 0.791. The SARS-CoV-2 genomic analysis highlighted a set of mutations with global frequency flips and future inculcation into variants of concern (VOCs) and variants of interest (VOIs), which can be further monitored and annotated for functional significance. In summary, our findings highlight the importance of SARS-CoV-2 genomic surveillance and statistical analysis of clinical data to develop a risk assessment ML model.

COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Genomics , Humans , Mutation , Risk Assessment
Nat Commun ; 13(1): 383, 2022 01 19.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1636827


A single center open label phase 2 randomised control trial (Clinical Trial Registry of India No. CTRI/2020/05/025209) was done to assess clinical and immunological benefits of passive immunization using convalescent plasma therapy. At the Infectious Diseases and Beleghata General Hospital in Kolkata, India, 80 patients hospitalized with severe COVID-19 disease and fulfilling the inclusion criteria (aged more than 18 years, with either mild ARDS having PaO2/FiO2 200-300 or moderate ARDS having PaO2/FiO2 100-200, not on mechanical ventilation) were recruited and randomized into either standard of care (SOC) arm (N = 40) or the convalescent plasma therapy (CPT) arm (N = 40). Primary outcomes were all-cause mortality by day 30 of enrolment and immunological correlates of response to therapy if any, for which plasma abundance of a large panel of cytokines was quantitated before and after intervention to assess the effect of CPT on the systemic hyper-inflammation encountered in these patients. The secondary outcomes were recovery from ARDS and time taken to negative viral RNA PCR as well as to report any adverse reaction to plasma therapy. Transfused convalescent plasma was characterized in terms of its neutralizing antibody content as well as proteome. The trial was completed and it was found that primary outcome of all-cause mortality was not significantly different among severe COVID-19 patients with ARDS randomized to two treatment arms (Mantel-Haenszel Hazard Ratio 0.6731, 95% confidence interval 0.3010-1.505, with a P value of 0.3424 on Mantel-Cox Log-rank test). No adverse effect was reported with CPT. In severe COVID-19 patients with mild or moderate ARDS no significant clinical benefit was registered in this clinical trial with convalescent plasma therapy in terms of prespecified outcomes.

COVID-19/therapy , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibodies, Neutralizing/therapeutic use , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/therapeutic use , Blood Donors , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/virology , Cytokines/blood , Female , Hospitals, General , Humans , Immunity, Humoral , Immunization, Passive , India , Inflammation , Male , Phylogeny , Respiratory Distress Syndrome/immunology , Respiratory Distress Syndrome/therapy , Respiratory Distress Syndrome/virology , SARS-CoV-2/classification , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Survival Analysis , Treatment Outcome , Viral Load
Pathogens ; 10(9)2021 Aug 31.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1390714


Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) manifests a broad spectrum of clinical presentations, varying in severity from asymptomatic to mortality. As the viral infection spread, it evolved and developed into many variants of concern. Understanding the impact of mutations in the SARS-CoV-2 genome on the clinical phenotype and associated co-morbidities is important for treatment and preventionas the pandemic progresses. Based on the mild, moderate, and severe clinical phenotypes, we analyzed the possible association between both, the clinical sub-phenotypes and genomic mutations with respect to the severity and outcome of the patients. We found a significant association between the requirement of respiratory support and co-morbidities. We also identified six SARS-CoV-2 genome mutations that were significantly correlated with severity and mortality in our cohort. We examined structural alterations at the RNA and protein levels as a result of three of these mutations: A26194T, T28854T, and C25611A, present in the Orf3a and N protein. The RNA secondary structure change due to the above mutations can be one of the modulators of the disease outcome. Our findings highlight the importance of integrative analysis in which clinical and genetic components of the disease are co-analyzed. In combination with genomic surveillance, the clinical outcome-associated mutations could help identify individuals for priority medical support.

Brief Funct Genomics ; 21(2): 90-102, 2022 Apr 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1360335


Infectious diseases are potential drivers for human evolution, through a complex, continuous and dynamic interaction between the host and the pathogen/s. It is this dynamic interaction that contributes toward the clinical outcome of a pathogenic disease. These are modulated by contributions from the human genetic variants, transcriptional response (including noncoding RNA) and the pathogen's genome architecture. Modern genomic tools and techniques have been crucial for the detection and genomic characterization of pathogens with respect to the emerging infectious diseases. Aided by next-generation sequencing (NGS), risk stratification of host population/s allows for the identification of susceptible subgroups and better disease management. Nevertheless, many challenges to a general understanding of host-pathogen interactions remain. In this review, we elucidate how a better understanding of the human host-pathogen interplay can substantially enhance, and in turn benefit from, current and future applications of multi-omics based approaches in infectious and rare diseases. This includes the RNA-level response, which modulates the disease severity and outcome. The need to understand the role of human genetic variants in disease severity and clinical outcome has been further highlighted during the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. This would enhance and contribute toward our future pandemic preparedness.

COVID-19 , COVID-19/genetics , Genomics/methods , High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing , Host-Pathogen Interactions/genetics , Humans , Pandemics
J Infect Dis ; 224(4): 565-574, 2021 08 16.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1358458


BACKGROUND: Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), has led to significant morbidity and mortality. While most suffer from mild symptoms, some patients progress to severe disease with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and associated systemic hyperinflammation. METHODS: First, to characterize key cytokines and their dynamics in this hyperinflammatory condition, we assessed abundance and correlative expression of a panel of 48 cytokines in patients progressing to ARDS as compared to patients with mild disease. Then, in an ongoing randomized controlled trial of convalescent plasma therapy (CPT), we analyzed rapid effects of CPT on the systemic cytokine dynamics as a correlate for the level of hypoxia experienced by the patients. RESULTS: We identified an anti-inflammatory role of CPT independent of its neutralizing antibody content. CONCLUSIONS: Neutralizing antibodies, as well as reductions in circulating interleukin-6 and interferon-γ-inducible protein 10, contributed to marked rapid reductions in hypoxia in response to CPT. CLINICAL TRIAL REGISTRY OF INDIA: CTRI/2020/05/025209.

COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/therapy , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Adult , Anti-Inflammatory Agents/therapeutic use , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , COVID-19/drug therapy , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/virology , Cytokines/blood , Cytokines/immunology , Female , Humans , Immunization, Passive/methods , India/epidemiology , Male , Middle Aged , Plasma , RNA, Viral/isolation & purification , Respiratory Distress Syndrome/drug therapy , Respiratory Distress Syndrome/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Viral Load
Elife ; 102021 06 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1262663


The COVID-19 pandemic originating in the Wuhan province of China in late 2019 has impacted global health, causing increased mortality among elderly patients and individuals with comorbid conditions. During the passage of the virus through affected populations, it has undergone mutations, some of which have recently been linked with increased viral load and prognostic complexities. Several of these variants are point mutations that are difficult to diagnose using the gold standard quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) method and necessitates widespread sequencing which is expensive, has long turn-around times, and requires high viral load for calling mutations accurately. Here, we repurpose the high specificity of Francisella novicida Cas9 (FnCas9) to identify mismatches in the target for developing a lateral flow assay that can be successfully adapted for the simultaneous detection of SARS-CoV-2 infection as well as for detecting point mutations in the sequence of the virus obtained from patient samples. We report the detection of the S gene mutation N501Y (present across multiple variant lineages of SARS-CoV-2) within an hour using lateral flow paper strip chemistry. The results were corroborated using deep sequencing on multiple wild-type (n = 37) and mutant (n = 22) virus infected patient samples with a sensitivity of 87% and specificity of 97%. The design principle can be rapidly adapted for other mutations (as shown also for E484K and T716I) highlighting the advantages of quick optimization and roll-out of CRISPR diagnostics (CRISPRDx) for disease surveillance even beyond COVID-19. This study was funded by Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, India.

SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19, has a genome made of RNA (a nucleic acid similar to DNA) that can mutate, potentially making the disease more transmissible, and more lethal. Most countries have monitored the rise of mutated strains using a technique called next generation sequencing (NGS), which is time-consuming, expensive and requires skilled personnel. Sometimes the mutations to the virus are so small that they can only be detected using NGS. Finding cheaper, simpler and faster SARS-CoV-2 tests that can reliably detect mutated forms of the virus is crucial for public health authorities to monitor and manage the spread of the virus. Lateral flow tests (the same technology used in many pregnancy tests) are typically cheap, fast and simple to use. Typically, lateral flow assay strips have a band of immobilised antibodies that bind to a specific protein (or antigen). If a sample contains antigen molecules, these will bind to the immobilised antibodies, causing a chemical reaction that changes the colour of the strip and giving a positive result. However, lateral flow tests that use antibodies cannot easily detect nucleic acids, such as DNA or RNA, let alone mutations in them. To overcome this limitation, lateral flow assays can be used to detect a protein called Cas9, which, in turn, is able to bind to nucleic acids with specific sequences. Small changes in the target sequence change how well Cas9 binds to it, meaning that, in theory, this approach could be used to detect small mutations in the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Kumar et al. made a lateral flow test that could detect a Cas9 protein that binds to a nucleic acid sequence found in a specific mutant strain of SARS-CoV-2. This Cas9 was highly sensitive to changes in its target sequence, so a small mutation in the target nucleic acid led to the protein binding less strongly, and the signal from the lateral flow test being lost. This meant that the lateral flow test designed by Kumar et al. could detect mutations in the SARS-CoV-2 virus at a fraction of the price of NGS approaches if used only for diagnosis. The lateral flow test was capable of detecting mutant viruses in patient samples too, generating a colour signal within an hour of a positive sample being run through the assay. The test developed by Kumar et al. could offer public health authorities a quick and cheap method to monitor the spread of mutant SARS-CoV-2 strains; as well as a way to determine vaccine efficacy against new strains.

COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing , COVID-19/genetics , CRISPR-Cas Systems/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats , Humans