About IN-DEPTH

Project “An evolutionary insight into molecular diversity of emerging pathogens in Serbia through phylogenetic approach” (an acronym IN-DEPTH) is financed by the Science Fund of the Republic of Serbia, within the Program for Excellent Projects of Young Researchers (PROMIS).
bt_bb_section_bottom_section_coverage_image

About IN-DEPTH

Project “An evolutionary insight into molecular diversity of emerging pathogens in Serbia through phylogenetic approach” (an acronym IN-DEPTH) is financed by the Science Fund of the Republic of Serbia, within the Program for Excellent Projects of Young Researchers (PROMIS).
bt_bb_section_bottom_section_coverage_image

MotiveEpidemics caused by emerging pathogens

Despite continued efforts to improve healthcare systems worldwide, emerging pathogen outbreaks remain a major public health concern. Genomic changes such as gene mutation, genetic recombination, and reassortment as well as factors inducing pathogens to change hosts create opportunities for infectious agents to evolve, adapt to new hosts in novel ecological niches, spread easily, and consequently emerge.

Among a variety of infectious organisms classified as emerging, rapidly evolving zoonotic RNA viruses and multidrug-resistant (MDR) bacteria are clearly distinguished by their considerable virulence, limited treatment options, increasing risks of transmission, and overwhelming impact on public health.

Therefore, the team of six young scientists decided to focus their research on hanta-, paramyxo-, and flaviviruses(West Nile and Usutu viruses)as well as on carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii(CRAb), carbapenem-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa(CRPA), and MDR Mycobacterium tuberculosis, as emerging pathogens whose molecular diversity, distribution, outbreak potential and evolution in Serbia are still insufficiently known. The aims of the project IN-DEPTH are as follows:

Phylogenetic characterization of selected emerging pathogens, i.e. hantaviruses, paramyxoviruses, flaviviruses, CRAb, CRPA, and MDR M.tuberculosis, circulating in Serbia
Determination of the pathogens’ transmission chains, spatio-temporal distribution,and epidemic history, as well as their potential for further spread
Determination of relatedness between evolutionary characteristics of selected emerging pathogensand epidemiological, clinical,and environmental factors
Creation of an open-access national sequence database of targeted emerging pathogens.

GoalsCreating a nation-wide database of genetic and genomic pathogen sequences

The project objectives are realized by the use of highly discriminatory molecular techniques for sequencing of pathogens’ genes and genomes (Sanger sequencing and whole genome sequencing, respectively), and state-of-the-art bioinformatic software for phylogenetic, phylodinamic, and phylogeographic analyses of generated sequences, which are considered as the most effective tools for outbreak prediction, timely outbreak detection, and application of effective epidemiological measures for further outbreak prevention.

Accordingly, the overall ambition of the project team is to challenge local public health authorities to consider the transition toamolecular-bioinformatic approach for control and surveillance strategies of infectious diseases caused by zoonotic RNA viruses and MDR bacteria. This analytical approach will enable addressing the most relevant processes concerning genome evolution and trace pathogens populations at a level of immense importance foranin-depth understanding of its emergence in Serbia and this part of Europe. Moreover, it will enable us to analyze to what extent the evolutionary adaptations in zoonotic RNA viruses may have been driven by significant shifts in the environment, to project their future biodiversity patterns in response to environmental changes, to reveal determinants of the high prevalence of MDR bacteria in hospital settings and their extensive nosocomial transmission, and finally, to define the most relevant epidemiological measures to combat their acquisition and spread.

Generation of the national database of viral and bacterial genomic data will be the basis for further collaborations with local and international research institutions that will enable us to gain insight into evolutionary relationships of emerging pathogens circulating in Serbia and those that have been spread on a regional and global scale.