Breaking News
June 22, 2018 - Osteopathic manual therapy affecting the diaphragm improves chronic low back pain
June 22, 2018 - Researchers create revolutionary model to study pulmonary diseases
June 22, 2018 - Diagnosing Heart Disease Using AI
June 22, 2018 - Increasing biodefense risks posed by synthetic biology
June 22, 2018 - Many Women Report Vasomotor Symptoms in Their 60s
June 22, 2018 - Rare mutation of gene carried by Quebec family gives insight into how the brain is wired
June 22, 2018 - Summer is good time to check for signs of skin cancer
June 22, 2018 - Innovative method can help identify patients with spastic cerebral palsy
June 22, 2018 - Exercise alters characteristics of blood to reduce inflammation in obese people
June 22, 2018 - Researchers examine complications across different types of breast reconstructive surgeries
June 22, 2018 - Rhesus macaque model could be useful to test therapies for congenital Zika virus syndrome
June 22, 2018 - AHA: New Insights Into Sickle Cell and Stroke Risk
June 22, 2018 - Doctors prescribe opioids at high rates to those at increased overdose risk
June 22, 2018 - Reduction in US cigarette smoking rates
June 22, 2018 - Preconception binge drinking may have negative effect on future offspring
June 22, 2018 - FDA expands approval of novel diabetes management device to include younger pediatric patients
June 22, 2018 - Researchers confirm weight loss benefits of the 16:8 diet
June 22, 2018 - FDA approves Eversense CGM system for use in adults with diabetes
June 22, 2018 - State opioid monitoring programs are not created equal
June 22, 2018 - Autistic teens who are bullied have higher rates of depression
June 22, 2018 - Penn Medicine team launches universal stroke awareness program
June 22, 2018 - Scientists discover the molecular trigger of necroptosis
June 22, 2018 - Researchers report unusually high levels of herpesvirus in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease
June 22, 2018 - Theoretical models predict how juveniles evolve to be more susceptible than adults to infection
June 22, 2018 - USC study reveals how the cell launches emergency response to repair damaged DNA
June 22, 2018 - $1.9 million grant aims to enhance behavioral health services in community-based settings
June 22, 2018 - New 3D imaging technique could improve arthritis treatment
June 22, 2018 - Cytokinetics Announces Data From Phase 2 Clinical Study of Reldesemtiv in Patients With Spinal Muscular Atrophy
June 22, 2018 - Polarized cells give the heart its fully developed form
June 21, 2018 - Stem cells appear to help fight obesity in animal models
June 21, 2018 - Harnessing Pediatric Cancer Genomic Data in the Cloud
June 21, 2018 - Training nursing students with cost-effective 3D-printed task trainers
June 21, 2018 - Study provides insight into how planned and spontaneous movements are processed in the brain
June 21, 2018 - Suicide Prevention | SAMHSA – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
June 21, 2018 - From designer microbes to stem cells, researchers are investigating new strategies to treat bowel disease
June 21, 2018 - Study suggests state-of-the-art genomic testing for routine autopsy of stillbirths
June 21, 2018 - Christiana Care Health System opens first Epilepsy Monitoring Unit in Delaware
June 21, 2018 - CDC: Obesity Prevalence Higher in Non-Metropolitan Counties
June 21, 2018 - Youths Treated for Non-Suicidal Self Harm at Increased Risk of Suicide Within a Year
June 21, 2018 - WVU researchers increase colorectal cancer screening rates in West Virginia
June 21, 2018 - Pediatric kidney recipients often have subclinical inflammation
June 21, 2018 - OHSU Knight Cancer Institute Director wins 2018 Tang Prize in Biopharmaceutical Science
June 21, 2018 - Researchers study broader effects of neonics on wildlife
June 21, 2018 - Study provides new insight on how antibiotics affect the gut microbiome
June 21, 2018 - InHealth Technologies becomes exclusive distributor of RENÚ Voice, RENÚ Gel in the United States
June 21, 2018 - New analysis links higher BMI to lower breast cancer risk for younger women
June 21, 2018 - Interactive preclinical PET-MR workshop demonstrates benefits of multi-modality imaging
June 21, 2018 - Gene signature could improve early diagnosis of TB
June 21, 2018 - Psychiatric Drug Lithium Tied to Birth Defect Risk
June 21, 2018 - Preclinical study suggests ARID1a may be useful biomarker for immunotherapy
June 21, 2018 - Risks of cancer and mortality found to be lowest in light drinkers
June 21, 2018 - Fetal immune cells are fast-acting first responders to microbes in adulthood
June 21, 2018 - Researchers invent medical device for proliferation, differentiation of neural stem cells
June 21, 2018 - Study explores current understanding of human physiology, pathology, trauma and surgery in space
June 21, 2018 - Scientists explore interactions between chromosomes 12 and 17
June 21, 2018 - People with severe obesity constantly try to reduce or control their weight
June 21, 2018 - Relaxing ‘brain tingles’ may have benefits for both mental and physical health
June 21, 2018 - Breakthrough discovery reveals brain metals that may drive progression of Alzheimer’s disease
June 21, 2018 - New methods of fragment-based lead discovery to identify potential antibiotics
June 21, 2018 - Recovery and Treatment | NIH MedlinePlus the Magazine
June 21, 2018 - Study finds cell-free DNA profiling as versatile method to monitor UTIs
June 21, 2018 - ‘Hidden’ driver discovered that helps prime the anti-tumor immune response
June 21, 2018 - Groundbreaking discovery could be key to preventing cancer metastasis
June 21, 2018 - Impulse control disorders found to be more common in people taking Parkinson’s drugs
June 21, 2018 - Study finds possible link between Type 2 diabetes and common white pigment
June 21, 2018 - Most emergency department patients wish to be involved in medical decision-making
June 21, 2018 - Study highlights growing problem of ‘iPad neck’ among young adults and women
June 21, 2018 - UT Southwestern scientists identify gene mutation linked with perplexing brain condition
June 21, 2018 - Probiotics could cut age-related bone loss in elderly women
June 21, 2018 - New study sheds light on role of vitamin D in healthy pregnancy
June 21, 2018 - Teva Provides Update on Clinical Trial of Fremanezumab for Use in Chronic Cluster Headache
June 21, 2018 - Unlocking the secrets of HIV’s persistence
June 21, 2018 - New guidelines recommend newborns with Down’s syndrome to receive leukemia test
June 21, 2018 - BetterYou’s new Magnesium Bone Lotion helps maximize bone health
June 21, 2018 - UH scientist receives grant to examine understudied part of glaucoma
June 21, 2018 - Lifestyle intervention could normalize unhealthy behaviors that lead to cancer, chronic disease
June 21, 2018 - Combining two anti-malarial vaccines could greatly reduce number of infections
June 21, 2018 - By 2030, prostate and lung cancers expected to be most common cancers among HIV population
June 21, 2018 - Researchers evaluate patient satisfaction and well-being after breast reconstruction
June 21, 2018 - Combining stem cell technology and artificial intelligence to diagnose genetic cardiac diseases
Researchers create new modeling framework that takes a zoonotic perspective on Ebola

Researchers create new modeling framework that takes a zoonotic perspective on Ebola

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print

Javier Buceta, associate professor of bioengineering, Paolo Bocchini, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, and postdoctoral student Graziano Fiorillo of Lehigh University have created a modeling framework that takes a zoonotic perspective on Ebola.

The team’s approach works by tracking the migratory patterns of bats, which are believed to be a main carrier of the Ebola virus. Bats, in this instance, are the reservoirs of Ebola. This means that they are carriers and transmitters of the virus, though it does not cause them harm.

“In our model, the appearance of outbreaks is tightly linked to fluctuations in environmental conditions which have an impact on both bat migration patterns and infection rates,” says Buceta.

Buceta, Bocchini and Fiorillo worked with satellite information and parameter sampling techniques to create their framework, which integrates data and modeling to predict the conditions linking bats’ behavior with the outbreak of Ebola. They have detailed their work in a paper titled “A Predictive Spatial Distribution Framework for Filovirus-Infected Bats” published online today in Scientific Reports.

The model utilizes information on bat birth and death rates, the rate of infection of bats with the Ebola virus and recovery rates, bat mobility, seasonal changes and information about the availability of food and shelter to forecast bat infection peaks in a given region.
And the results are compelling.

The 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa that killed more than 11,000 people is believed to have originated with a two-year-old in Meliandou, a remote village in Guinea, a country that had never before seen a case of Ebola. The type of virus was identified as the deadliest strain, found in Zaire–a country thousands of miles away.

How did it get there? The likeliest answer: bats.

Using their framework, an analysis of the data from the region near Meliandou around the time of the start of the 2014 outbreak revealed two yearly peaks of infection at Meliandou coinciding with the birthing seasons. Indeed, when the researchers retroactively analyzed the data from that time and location, their model predicted a peak of Ebola-infected bats in Meliandou during the months when the outbreak began.

By contrast, when the researchers worked with similar data from Bamako, Mali–a region nearly 400 miles away from Meliandou and with different climate conditions–their approach did not forecast a peak for that time of the year.

“Such findings strongly suggest that environmental factors play a key role in the spread of the Ebola virus among bats,” says Buceta.

This predictive tool could be used to deliver guidance about the specific locations and periods of the year during which an outbreak is more likely to appear due to bats. It could also help reduce the risk of future spillovers from animals to humans.

Resource availability and bat infection rates

Establishing how to measure the key environmental factors driving resource-related bat migration was key to developing the model.

To do this, the team used environmental and climate data retrieved using the Google Earth Engine tool to access databases from the Land Processes Distributed Active Archive Center (LP DAAC), one of several discipline-specific data centers within the NASA Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS).

Bocchini, a civil engineer, had been working with smart sampling techniques to resolve parameter fluctuations pertaining to his research on structural engineering and regional hazards. Through that work, he developed a highly efficient computational technique that addresses probabilistic big-data problems and enables researchers to analyze a small subset of truly representative cases.

“We needed to study the random fluctuations of available resources over the entire African continent at high resolution; it was a massive computational and probabilistic challenge,” says Bocchini. “We recognized that from a mathematical point of view, the problem is similar to the random propagation of seismic waves in a region subject to earthquakes, and we could adapt our tools.”

They applied Bocchini’s sampling technique to efficiently account for the uncertainties in the data and to establish useful parameters for measuring resource availability, given fluctuating conditions over time and geography.

After establishing the parameters, they were able to input data regarding temperature, humidity and other factors.

“We could then predict the concentration of infected bats one might expect to find given those particular conditions,” says Buceta.

Now, the duo has been awarded a three-year grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to further develop their modeling framework. The project, called “Risk Assessment of Ebola Outbreaks Through Probabilistic Modeling of Chiroptera Zoonotic Dynamics and Socioeconomic Factors,” uses a novel sampling technique created by Bocchini that enables an analysis of spatially distributed random fluctuations of environmental parameters to understand how such factors impact bat migrations in a given region. The grant was awarded by the NIH’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences.

Their hope is that the result of their work will be predictive tool to analyze the risk of Ebola outbreaks.

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles