Current Trends in Diagnostics of Viral Infections of Unknown Etiology

Viruses. 2020 Feb 14;12(2):211. doi: 10.3390/v12020211.


Viruses are evolving at an alarming rate, spreading and inconspicuously adapting to cutting-edge therapies. Therefore, the search for rapid, informative and reliable diagnostic methods is becoming urgent as ever. Conventional clinical tests (PCR, serology, etc.) are being continually optimized, yet provide very limited data. Could high throughput sequencing (HTS) become the future gold standard in molecular diagnostics of viral infections? Compared to conventional clinical tests, HTS is universal and more precise at profiling pathogens. Nevertheless, it has not yet been widely accepted as a diagnostic tool, owing primarily to its high cost and the complexity of sample preparation and data analysis. Those obstacles must be tackled to integrate HTS into daily clinical practice. For this, three objectives are to be achieved: (1) designing and assessing universal protocols for library preparation, (2) assembling purpose-specific pipelines, and (3) building computational infrastructure to suit the needs and financial abilities of modern healthcare centers. Data harvested with HTS could not only augment diagnostics and help to choose the correct therapy, but also facilitate research in epidemiology, genetics and virology. This information, in turn, could significantly aid clinicians in battling viral infections.

Keywords: HTS; NGS; PCR; bioinformatics; diagnostics; sequencing; single-molecule sequencing; viral infections; viruses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Laboratory Techniques / methods*
  • Clinical Laboratory Techniques / trends*
  • Computational Biology / methods
  • Computational Biology / trends
  • Fever of Unknown Origin / virology
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing / methods
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing / trends
  • Humans
  • Molecular Diagnostic Techniques / methods
  • Molecular Diagnostic Techniques / trends
  • Virus Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Virus Diseases / etiology*
  • Viruses / genetics