Researchers from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and Imperial College London have developed Microreact, a free, real-time epidemic visualisation and tracking platform that has been used to monitor outbreaks of Ebola, Zika and antibiotic-resistant microbes.
The team have collaborated with the Microbiology Society to allow any researcher around the world to share their latest information about disease outbreaks. Details of the platform are published in the journal Microbial Genomicstoday (30 November).
Until now, disease data and geographic information about the movement of an infection or disease as it evolves and spreads has been locked up in databases that are often out of people’s reach. Researchers have been left to rely on published information in research papers, which may be many months out of date, containing static visuals which show only a small part of the whole disease or infection threat.
Microreact is a cloud-based system that combines the power of open data and the web, to provide real-time global data sharing and visualisation, allowing anyone to explore and examine outbreak information with unprecedented speed and detail. This is becoming increasingly important in the race to monitor and control fast-developing outbreaks like Ebola or Zika, or the growing threat of anti-microbial resistance.
Microreact allows data and metadata sets to be uploaded via a web browser, which can then be visualised, shared and published in a research paper via a permanent web link. The partnership with Microbial Genomics allows the journal to make data from prospective publications available through Microreact. This promotes open availability and access while also starting to build a unique resource for global health professionals and scientists.
“Until now, the global research community has been hamstrung because results are generally only shared in static pictures or tables in publications. Microreact allows everyone to explore the information dynamically – across both time and space – letting them see the whole picture. Using Microreact takes disease tracking out the hands of a privileged few and gives it to everyone who wants to understand disease evolution.”
Dr David Aanensen, Director of the Centre for Genomic Pathogen Surveillance (a joint initiative between Imperial College London and the Sanger Institute) and one of Microreact’s creators
One example of how Microreact can democratise genomic data and resulting insights is the work of Dr Kathryn Holt and Professor Gordon Dougan. They have recently published two papers on the global distribution of typhoid bacteria around the world, showing the epidemic spread of a multidrug resistant strain. But they also published their data to Microreact to help others build on their work.
“We gathered together data from almost 2000 samples Salmonella Typhi bacteria collected by 74 collaborators in 63 countries. By comparing the different strains and mapping them to when and where they were ‘caught’ we were able to show that a new drug-resistant strain emerged in Asia and has spread across that continent and into Africa. We have put all this information on Microreact and now anyone can see exactly what we saw – both scientists and those public health professionals tasked with controlling such outbreaks.”
Dr Kathryn Holt, from the University of Melbourne
By putting this information on Microreact, the researchers have ensured that the data continues to live on – allowing others to learn from their work and to use the information as a basis of comparison or foundation for future work. Microreact also allows individual researchers to share information globally and in real-time – crowdsourcing new discoveries and insights that could have immediate impact.
“We are delighted that our open-access, open-data journal Microbial Genomics is partnering with Microreact. All Microreact projects that appear in Microbial Genomics papers will be highlighted on the journal’s website to increase the discoverability and accessibility of researchers’ datasets.”
Leighton Chipperfield, Director of Publishing at the Microbiology Society
The Latest on: Disease tracking
via Google News
The Latest on: Disease tracking
- UK, 4 nations fast-track review of modified COVID vaccineson March 5, 2021 at 4:32 pm
Regulators in the U.K. and four other countries plan to fast-track the development of modified COVID-19 vaccines to ensure drugmakers are able to move swiftly in targeting emerging variants of the dis ...
- Why this Bay Area expert says not to worry if your 2nd COVID-19 vaccine is delayedon March 5, 2021 at 2:16 pm
There’s no reason to panic if you aren’t able to receive the vaccine within the recommended time frame, said a UC Berkeley infectious disease expert.
- Huntington's disease driven by slowed protein-building machinery in cellson March 5, 2021 at 10:04 am
In 1993, scientists discovered that a single mutated gene, HTT, caused Huntington's disease, raising high hopes for a quick cure. Yet today, there's still no approved treatment.
- COVID-19 affects men and women differently—it's important to track the dataon March 5, 2021 at 7:31 am
The African Population Health Research Centre, based in Kenya, has been mining data across 47 countries in Africa, tracking differences in COVID-19 infection, illness and deaths among men and women.
- Evaluation of plasma tau and neurofilament light chain biomarkers in a 12-year clinical cohort of human prion diseaseson March 5, 2021 at 5:26 am
Prion diseases are fatal neurodegenerative conditions with highly accurate CSF and imaging diagnostic tests, but major unmet needs for blood biomarkers. Using ultrasensitive immuno-assays, we measured ...
- HHS Aims to Accelerate Technologies for Combatting Lyme Diseaseon March 5, 2021 at 2:12 am
The Health and Human Services Department recently kicked off market research to inform an ambitious, multimillion-dollar effort to spur rapid breakthroughs against Lyme disease, a common tick-borne ...
- New Google.org COVID-19 database could hold key to disease's mysterieson March 4, 2021 at 2:20 pm
A year into the pandemic, COVID-19 still puzzles researchers, but the public release of a new database may help scientists solve some of the mysteries lingering around this devastating disease. An ...
- U.K. to Fast-Track Approval of Vaccines for Covid-19 Variantson March 4, 2021 at 2:50 am
U.K. health regulators said authorized Covid-19 vaccines that are modified for new variants of the disease will be fast-tracked through the approval system.
- Virus Updates: UK to Fast-Track Modified Vaccines; Calif. Ups Shot Supply to Vulnerableon March 4, 2021 at 12:23 am
President Joe Biden and health experts are expressing concern after Texas and Mississippi officials announced plans to ease virus restrictions, including ending mask mandates. The Biden administration ...
via Bing News