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Detecting pathogen exposure during the non-symptomatic incubation period using physiological data: proof of concept in non-human primates

Summary

Background and Objectives: Early warning of bacterial and viral infection, prior to the development of overt clinical symptoms, allows not only for improved patient care and outcomes but also enables faster implementation of public health measures (patient isolation and contact tracing). Our primary objectives in this effort are 3-fold. First, we seek to determine the upper limits of early warning detection through physiological measurements. Second, we investigate whether the detected physiological response is specific to the pathogen. Third, we explore the feasibility of extending early warning detection with wearable devices. Research Methods: For the first objective, we developed a supervised random forest algorithm to detect pathogen exposure in the asymptomatic period prior to overt symptoms (fever). We used high-resolution physiological telemetry data (aortic blood pressure, intrathoracic pressure, electrocardiograms, and core temperature) from non-human primate animal models exposed to two viral pathogens: Ebola and Marburg (N = 20). Second, to determine reusability across different pathogens, we evaluated our algorithm against three independent physiological datasets from non-human primate models (N = 13) exposed to three different pathogens: Lassa and Nipah viruses and Y. pestis. For the third objective, we evaluated performance degradation when the algorithm was restricted to features derived from electrocardiogram (ECG) waveforms to emulate data from a non-invasive wearable device. Results: First, our cross-validated random forest classifier provides a mean early warning of 51 ± 12 h, with an area under the receiver-operating characteristic curve (AUC) of 0.93 ± 0.01. Second, our algorithm achieved comparable performance when applied to datasets from different pathogen exposures – a mean early warning of 51 ± 14 h and AUC of 0.95 ± 0.01. Last, with a degraded feature set derived solely from ECG, we observed minimal degradation – a mean early warning of 46 ± 14 h and AUC of 0.91 ± 0.001. Conclusion: Under controlled experimental conditions, physiological measurements can provide over 2 days of early warning with high AUC. Deviations in physiological signals following exposure to a pathogen are due to the underlying host’s immunological response and are not specific to the pathogen. Pre-symptomatic detection is strong even when features are limited to ECG-derivatives, suggesting that this approach may translate to non-invasive wearable devices.
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Summary

Background and Objectives: Early warning of bacterial and viral infection, prior to the development of overt clinical symptoms, allows not only for improved patient care and outcomes but also enables faster implementation of public health measures (patient isolation and contact tracing). Our primary objectives in this effort are 3-fold. First...

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Geographic source estimation using airborne plant environmental DNA in dust

Summary

Information obtained from the analysis of dust, particularly biological particles such as pollen, plant parts, and fungal spores, has great utility in forensic geolocation. As an alternative to manual microscopic analysis of dust components, we developed a pipeline that utilizes the airborne plant environmental DNA (eDNA) in settled dust to estimate geographic origin. Metabarcoding of settled airborne eDNA was used to identify plant species whose geographic distributions were then derived from occurrence records in the USGS Biodiversity in Service of Our Nation (BISON) database. The distributions for all plant species identified in a sample were used to generate a probabilistic estimate of the sample source. With settled dust collected at four U.S. sites over a 15-month period, we demonstrated positive regional geolocation (within 600 km2 of the collection point) with 47.6% (20 of 42) of the samples analyzed. Attribution accuracy and resolution was dependent on the number of plant species identified in a dust sample, which was greatly affected by the season of collection. In dust samples that yielded a minimum of 20 identified plant species, positive regional attribution was achieved with 66.7% (16 of 24 samples). For broader demonstration, citizen-collected dust samples collected from 31 diverse U.S. sites were analyzed, and trace plant eDNA provided relevant regional attribution information on provenance in 32.2% of samples. This showed that analysis of airborne plant eDNA in settled dust can provide an accurate estimate regional provenance within the U.S., and relevant forensic information, for a substantial fraction of samples analyzed.
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Summary

Information obtained from the analysis of dust, particularly biological particles such as pollen, plant parts, and fungal spores, has great utility in forensic geolocation. As an alternative to manual microscopic analysis of dust components, we developed a pipeline that utilizes the airborne plant environmental DNA (eDNA) in settled dust to...

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Geographic source estimation using airborne plant environmental DNA in dust

Summary

Information obtained from the analysis of dust, particularly biological particles such as pollen, plant parts, and fungal spores, has great utility in forensic geolocation. As an alternative to manual microscopic analysis, we developed a pipeline that utilizes the environmental DNA (eDNA) from plants in dust samples to estimate previous sample location(s). The species of plant-derived eDNA within dust samples were identified using metabarcoding and their geographic distributions were then derived from occurrence records in the USGS Biodiversity in Service of Our Nation (BISON) database. The distributions for all plant species identified in a sample were used to generate a probabilistic estimate of the sample source. With settled dust collected at four U.S. sites over a 15-month period, we demonstrated positive regional geolocation (within 600 km2 of the collection point) with 47.6% (20 of 42) of the samples analyzed. Attribution accuracy and resolution was dependent on the number of plant species identified in a dust sample, which was greatly affected by the season of collection. In dust samples that yielded a minimum of 20 identified plant species, positive regional attribution improved to 66.7% (16 of 24 samples). Using dust samples collected from 31 different U.S. sites, trace plant eDNA provided relevant regional attribution information on provenance in 32.2%. This demonstrated that analysis of plant eDNA in dust can provide an accurate estimate regional provenance within the U.S., and relevant forensic information, for a substantial fraction of samples analyzed.
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Summary

Information obtained from the analysis of dust, particularly biological particles such as pollen, plant parts, and fungal spores, has great utility in forensic geolocation. As an alternative to manual microscopic analysis, we developed a pipeline that utilizes the environmental DNA (eDNA) from plants in dust samples to estimate previous sample...

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Image processing pipeline for liver fibrosis classification using ultrasound shear wave elastography

Published in:
Ultrasound in Med. & Biol., Vol. 46, No. 10, October 2020, pp. 2667-2676.

Summary

The purpose of this study was to develop an automated method for classifying liver fibrosis stage >=F2 based on ultrasound shear wave elastography (SWE) and to assess the system's performance in comparison with a reference manual approach. The reference approach consists of manually selecting a region of interest from each of eight or more SWE images, computing the mean tissue stiffness within each of the regions of interest and computing a resulting stiffness value as the median of the means. The 527-subject database consisted of 5526 SWE images and pathologist-scored biopsies, with data collected from a single system at a single site. The automated method integrates three modules that assess SWE image quality, select a region of interest from each SWE measurement and perform machine learning-based, multi-image SWE classification for fibrosis stage >=F2. Several classification methods were developed and tested using fivefold cross-validation with training, validation and test sets partitioned by subject. Performance metrics were area under receiver operating characteristic curve (AUROC), specificity at 95% sensitivity and number of SWE images required. The final automated method yielded an AUROC of 0.93 (95% confidence interval: 0.90-0.94) versus 0.69 (95% confidence interval: 0.65-0.72) for the reference method, 71% specificity with 95% sensitivity versus 5% and four images per decision versus eight or more. In conclusion, the automated method reported in this study significantly improved the accuracy for >=F2 classification of SWE measurements as well as reduced the number of measurements needed, which has the potential to reduce clinical workflow.
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Summary

The purpose of this study was to develop an automated method for classifying liver fibrosis stage >=F2 based on ultrasound shear wave elastography (SWE) and to assess the system's performance in comparison with a reference manual approach. The reference approach consists of manually selecting a region of interest from each...

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COVID-19: famotidine, histamine, mast cells, and mechanisms [eprint]

Summary

SARS-CoV-2 infection is required for COVID-19, but many signs and symptoms of COVID-19 differ from common acute viral diseases. Currently, there are no pre- or post-exposure prophylactic COVID-19 medical countermeasures. Clinical data suggest that famotidine may mitigate COVID-19 disease, but both mechanism of action and rationale for dose selection remain obscure. We explore several plausible avenues of activity including antiviral and host-mediated actions. We propose that the principal famotidine mechanism of action for COVID-19 involves on-target histamine receptor H2 activity, and that development of clinical COVID-19 involves dysfunctional mast cell activation and histamine release.
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Summary

SARS-CoV-2 infection is required for COVID-19, but many signs and symptoms of COVID-19 differ from common acute viral diseases. Currently, there are no pre- or post-exposure prophylactic COVID-19 medical countermeasures. Clinical data suggest that famotidine may mitigate COVID-19 disease, but both mechanism of action and rationale for dose selection remain...

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Kawasaki disease, multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children: antibody-induced mast cell activation hypothesis

Published in:
J Pediatrics & Pediatr Med. 2020; 4(2): 1-7

Summary

Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) is appearing in infants, children, and young adults in association with COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) infections of SARS-CoV-2. Kawasaki Disease (KD) is one of the most common vasculitides of childhood. KD presents with similar symptoms to MIS-C especially in severe forms such as Kawasaki Disease Shock Syndrome (KDSS). The observed symptoms for MIS-C and KD are consistent with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS) characterized by inflammatory molecules released from activated mast cells. Based on the associations of KD with multiple viral and bacterial pathogens, we put forward the hypothesis that KD and MIS-C result from antibody activation of mast cells by Fc receptor-bound pathogen antibodies causing a hyperinflammatory response upon second pathogen exposure. Within this hypothesis, MIS-C may be atypical KD or a KD-like disease associated with SARS-CoV-2. We extend the mast cell hypothesis that increased histamine levels are inducing contraction of effector cells with impeded blood flow through cardiac capillaries. In some patients, pressure from impeded blood flow, within cardiac capillaries, may result in increased coronary artery blood pressure leading to aneurysms, a well-known complication in KD.
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Summary

Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) is appearing in infants, children, and young adults in association with COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) infections of SARS-CoV-2. Kawasaki Disease (KD) is one of the most common vasculitides of childhood. KD presents with similar symptoms to MIS-C especially in severe forms such as Kawasaki...

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Medical countermeasures analysis of 2019-nCoV and vaccine risks for antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE)

Published in:
https://www.preprints.org/manuscript/202003.0138/v1

Summary

Background: In 80% of patients, COVID-19 presents as mild disease. 20% of cases develop severe (13%) or critical (6%) illness. More severe forms of COVID-19 present as clinical severe acute respiratory syndrome, but include a T-predominant lymphopenia, high circulating levels of proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines, accumulation of neutrophils and macrophages in lungs, and immune dysregulation including immunosuppression. Methods: All major SARS-CoV-2 proteins were characterized using an amino acid residue variation analysis method. Results predict that most SARS-CoV-2 proteins are evolutionary constrained, with the exception of the spike (S) protein extended outer surface. Results were interpreted based on known SARS-like coronavirus virology and pathophysiology, with a focus on medical countermeasure development implications. Findings: Non-neutralizing antibodies to variable S domains may enable an alternative infection pathway via Fc receptor-mediated uptake. This may be a gating event for the immune response dysregulation observed in more severe COVID-19 disease. Prior studies involving vaccine candidates for FCoV SARS-CoV-1 and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) demonstrate vaccination-induced antibody-dependent enhancement of disease (ADE), including infection of phagocytic antigen presenting cells (APC). T effector cells are believed to play an important role in controlling coronavirus infection; pan-T depletion is present in severe COVID-19 disease and may be accelerated by APC infection. Sequence and structural conservation of S motifs suggests that SARS and MERS vaccine ADE risks may foreshadow SARS-CoV-2 S-based vaccine risks. Autophagy inhibitors may reduce APC infection and T-cell depletion. Amino acid residue variation analysis identifies multiple constrained domains suitable as T cell vaccine targets. Evolutionary constraints on proven antiviral drug targets present in SARS-CoV-1 and SARS-CoV-2 may reduce risk of developing antiviral drug escape mutants. Interpretation: Safety testing of COVID-19 S protein-based B cell vaccines in animal models is strongly encouraged prior to clinical trials to reduce risk of ADE upon virus exposure.
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Summary

Background: In 80% of patients, COVID-19 presents as mild disease. 20% of cases develop severe (13%) or critical (6%) illness. More severe forms of COVID-19 present as clinical severe acute respiratory syndrome, but include a T-predominant lymphopenia, high circulating levels of proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines, accumulation of neutrophils and macrophages...

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Machine learning for medical ultrasound: status, methods, and future opportunities

Published in:
Abdom. Radiol., 2018, doi: 10.1007/s00261-018-1517-0.

Summary

Ultrasound (US) imaging is the most commonly performed cross-sectional diagnostic imaging modality in the practice of medicine. It is low-cost, non-ionizing, portable, and capable of real-time image acquisition and display. US is a rapidly evolving technology with significant challenges and opportunities. Challenges include high inter- and intra-operator variability and limited image quality control. Tremendous opportunities have arisen in the last decade as a result of exponential growth in available computational power coupled with progressive miniaturization of US devices. As US devices become smaller, enhanced computational capability can contribute significantly to decreasing variability through advanced image processing. In this paper, we review leading machine learning (ML) approaches and research directions in US, with an emphasis on recent ML advances. We also present our outlook on future opportunities for ML techniques to further improve clinical workflow and US-based disease diagnosis and characterization.
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Summary

Ultrasound (US) imaging is the most commonly performed cross-sectional diagnostic imaging modality in the practice of medicine. It is low-cost, non-ionizing, portable, and capable of real-time image acquisition and display. US is a rapidly evolving technology with significant challenges and opportunities. Challenges include high inter- and intra-operator variability and limited...

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Detecting pathogen exposure during the non-symptomatic incubation period using physiological data

Summary

Early pathogen exposure detection allows better patient care and faster implementation of public health measures (patient isolation, contact tracing). Existing exposure detection most frequently relies on overt clinical symptoms, namely fever, during the infectious prodromal period. We have developed a robust machine learning based method to better detect asymptomatic states during the incubation period using subtle, sub-clinical physiological markers. Starting with highresolution physiological waveform data from non-human primate studies of viral (Ebola, Marburg, Lassa, and Nipah viruses) and bacterial (Y. pestis) exposure, we processed the data to reduce short-term variability and normalize diurnal variations, then provided these to a supervised random forest classification algorithm and post-classifier declaration logic step to reduce false alarms. In most subjects detection is achieved well before the onset of fever; subject cross-validation across exposure studies (varying viruses, exposure routes, animal species, and target dose) lead to 51h mean early detection (at 0.93 area under the receiver-operating characteristic curve [AUCROC]). Evaluating the algorithm against entirely independent datasets for Lassa, Nipah, and Y. pestis exposures un-used in algorithm training and development yields a mean 51h early warning time (at AUCROC=0.95). We discuss which physiological indicators are most informative for early detection and options for extending this capability to limited datasets such as those available from wearable, non-invasive, ECG-based sensors.
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Summary

Early pathogen exposure detection allows better patient care and faster implementation of public health measures (patient isolation, contact tracing). Existing exposure detection most frequently relies on overt clinical symptoms, namely fever, during the infectious prodromal period. We have developed a robust machine learning based method to better detect asymptomatic states...

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