Novel Method to Identify Unknown Viruses

Tech ID: 27364 / UC Case 2009-660-0


During the initial periods of an unknown viral outbreak, like the 2003 SARS epidemic, healthcare workers and scientists rush to identify the unknown virus. The identification of an unknown virus is a lengthy process requiring the amplification of a virus in cell culture, then the purification of the amplified virus from cell culture to enable the sequencing the virus. These methods are often hindered by difficulties in the virus amplification in cell culture. This aspect of virus identification is part of the molecular diagnostics market which is estimated to reach the level of nearly $10.3 billion by 2023.

Brief Description

Prof. Shou-wei Ding and colleagues at UCR have developed a new method for virus discovery that is independent of either amplification or purification of viral particles. Virus-derived siRNAs and piRNAs are produced by the host immune system as an antiviral response to viral infection. These viral siRNAs and piRNAs are overlapping in sequence and can be assembled back into long continuous fragments of the infecting viral RNA genome. A researcher may sequence the total small RNAs of 18 to 29 nucleotides in length in a disease sample and search a public database of viral sequences using the contiguous sequences assembled from the small RNAs to identify a new or known virus with homology to all or part of a known viral genome in the database.

Suggested uses

  • Methods to identify unknown viruses by assembling viral genomes directly from small RNAs without prior virus amplification or enrichment.

Patent Status

Country Type Number Dated Case
United States Of America Issued Patent 9,493,846 11/15/2016 2009-660

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Other Information


virus, sequencing, innate immunity, RNAi, viral host response, viral genome assembly, siRNA, piRNA

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