The University of Texas Medical Branch, in collaboration with The Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases (IIAD), will establish and maintain an enduring Vector-Borne Viruses repository capable of providing the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with a dependable source of biological reference materials, and will be dedicated to the secure storage of select agents, near neighbors, and the environmental samples necessary to perform validation studies for current and future efforts. The repository of strains of Vector-borne viruses (PHAA panels) and nucleic acid samples will be provided to DHS for the purposes of testing and evaluation, and validation studies.
Outcomes and impacts
The DHS Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate is tasked with researching and organizing the scientific, engineering, and technological resources of the United States, and leveraging these existing resources into technological systems to support the spiral development of operational surveillance and detection capabilities.
Validation of DHS biological detector systems, Public Health Actionable Assays, and diagnostic assays require a reliable repository containing strains, isolates; as well as other agents, and their “near-neighbors,” of similar genetic and antigenic composition; and other potential contributors of target and background organisms present in the environment in which the detectors operate. All sources of these nucleic acids and antigenic materials must be available for interrogation via biological or molecular methods in order to assess the sensitivity and specificity of current assays, and those under development. Assessment of a diagnostic assay’s ability to discriminate between targeted and non-targeted isolates is crucial to ensure accurate and reliable results.
In order for the DHS to obtain access to materials for testing, validation, and comparison throughout various programs and contractor organizations within the DHS structure, this program will establish and maintain an enduring Vector-Borne Viruses repository capable of providing a dependable source of biological reference materials and genomic materials, and dedicated to the secure storage of select agents, near neighbors, and environmental and genomic samples necessary to perform validation studies for current and future efforts.