Sunday, October 25, 2009

NIH Funds New Virus Database

NIH has awarded a $15.7 million contract to UT Southwestern Medical Center and Northrop Grumman Corporation to develop an open-access national online database and analysis resource center to help scientists study and combat viruses. These viruses can cause hepatitis, encephalitis, smallpox, acute respiratory distress, and dengue fever, as well as newly emerging pathogenic viruses. NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases awarded the contract and designated $2.7 million to UT Southwestern which will act as a subcontractor on the project.

Previous research work at the university led to the development of an open-access database sponsored by NIH that has information on influenza including the pandemic H1N1 virus. The new Virus Pathogen Database and Analysis Resource (ViPR) to be developed will enable researchers to develop an online bioinformatics center to contain data and analysis tools for a wide range of viral pathogens.

“ViPR database will support gene sequence data, information about the immune response to viral infections, and information about the protein structure of viruses,” said Dr. Scheuermann, the principal investigator on the local portion of the new contract”.

In investigating H1N1, researchers plugged the virus genetic sequences into the NIH sponsored Influenza Research Database and found that the genetic coding of the H1N1 virus is nothing like the normal circulating seasonal influenza virus. ViPR which will have the same kind of functionality and the influenza database to be developed will help researchers answer similar questions about other human pathogenic viruses.

The ViPR database is scheduled to be available in December at