03118: MicroRNAs as Novel Fluid Biomarkers of Rabies in Naturally Infected Dogs
Grant Status: Open
Globally, rabies remains an important but neglected disease of human and dogs, for which there is currently no cure. Around 60,000 people and 7 million dogs die from rabies each year. Current diagnostic methods for rabies in dogs necessitate the death of animals to test for the virus in brain tissue. It is therefore important to develop better diagnostic tests that can be done on blood samples, without the need to kill the animal. Our long-term goal is the development of diagnostics and treatments for rabies in people and dogs using a One Health/Medicine approach, a term that captures the similarities between human and veterinary medicine and the benefit of collaboration in the study of diseases that affect both humans and animals. This study aims to provide proof of concept of the use of microRNAs (miRNAs) in the blood as novel diagnostic biomarkers for rabies in dogs. MicroRNAs are small stable molecules whose levels in blood and other tissues can change in response to infection or disease. The central hypothesis is that a miRNA signature can be identified from blood samples that will accurately classify dogs as infected or uninfected. Using a machine learning approach, investigators will analyze miRNAs in the blood of naturally infected rabid dogs, and compare these to miRNA levels in the blood of uninfected dogs. They hope to identify a miRNA signature in blood that can accurately distinguish naturally infected rabid dogs from uninfected control dogs and from rabies suspect but test-negative dogs. If this proof-of-concept study is successful, it will open new avenues for the development of novel diagnostic assays for the early diagnosis of rabies in dogs and humans.
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