In April 2008, a nucleotide sequence-based, complete genome classification system was developed for group A rotaviruses (RVs). This system assigns a specific genotype to each of the 11 genome segments of a particular RV strain according to established nucleotide percent cut-off values. Using this approach, the genome of individual RV strains are given the complete descriptor of Gx-P[x]-Ix-Rx-Cx-Mx-Ax-Nx-Tx-Ex-Hx. A Rotavirus Classification Working Group (RCWG) was formed by scientists in the field to maintain, evaluate, and develop the RV genotype classification system, in particular to aid in the designation of new genotypes. Since its conception, the group has ratified 50 new genotypes: as of January 2011, new genotypes for VP7 (G20–G26), VP4 (P–P), VP6 (I12–I16), VP1 (R5–R9), VP2 (C6–C9), VP3 (M7–M8), NSP1 (A15–A16), NSP2 (N6–N9), NSP3 (T8–T12), NSP4 (E12–E14), and NSP5/6 (H7–H11) have been defined for RV strains identified in humans, cows, pigs, horses, mice, South American camelids (guanaco and vicuña), chickens, turkeys, pheasants, and bats. With increasing numbers of complete RV genome sequences becoming available, a standardized RV strain nomenclature system is needed and the RCWG proposes that individual RV strains are named as follows: RV group/species of origin/country of identification/common name/year of identification/G- and P-type. In collaboration with the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), the RCWG is also working on developing a RV-specific resource for the deposition of nucleotide sequences. This resource will provide useful information regarding RV strains, including but not limited to, the individual gene genotypes, epidemiological, and clinical information. Together, the proposed nomenclature system and the NCBI RV resource will offer highly useful tools for investigators to search for, retrieve, and analyze the ever-growing volume of RV genomic data.
Recently, a classification system was proposed for rotaviruses in which all the 11 genomic RNA segments are used (Matthijnssens et al., 2008; J. Virol. 82:3204-3219). Based on nucleotide identity cut-off percentages, different genotypes were defined for each genome segment. A nomenclature for the comparison of complete rotavirus genomes was considered in which the notations Gx-P[x]-Ix-Rx-Cx-Mx-Ax-Nx-Tx-Ex-Hx are used for the VP7-VP4-VP6-VP1-VP2-VP3-NSP1-NSP2-NSP3-NSP4-NSP5/6 encoding genes, respectively. This classification system is an extension of the previously applied, genotype-based system which made use of the rotavirus gene segments encoding VP4, VP7, VP6, and NSP4. In order to assign rotavirus strains to one of the established genotypes or a new genotype, a standard procedure is proposed in this report. As more human and animal rotavirus genomes will be completely sequenced, new genotypes for each of the eleven gene segments may be identified. A Rotavirus Classification Working Group (RCWG) including specialists in molecular virology, infectious diseases, epidemiology, and public health was formed, which can assist in the appropriate delineation of new genotypes, thus avoiding duplications and helping minimize errors. Scientists discovering a potentially new rotavirus genotype for any of the 11 gene segments are invited to send the novel sequence to the RCWG, where the sequence will be analyzed, and a new nomenclature will be advised as appropriate. The RCWG will update the list of classified strains regularly and make this accessible on a website. Close collaboration with the Study Group Reoviridae of the International Committee on the Taxonomy of Viruses will be maintained.
The development of rotavirus vaccines that are based on heterotypic or serotype-specific immunity has prompted many countries to establish programs to assess the disease burden associated with rotavirus infection and the distribution of rotavirus strains. Strain surveillance helps to determine whether the most prevalent local strains are likely to be covered by the serotype antigens found in current vaccines. After introduction of a vaccine, this surveillance could detect which strains might not be covered by the vaccine. Almost 2 decades ago, studies demonstrated that 4 globally common rotavirus serotypes (G1-G4) represent >90% of the rotavirus strains in circulation. Subsequently, these 4 serotypes were used in the development of reassortant vaccines predicated on serotype-specific immunity. More recently, the application of reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction genotyping, nucleotide sequencing, and antigenic characterization methods has confirmed the importance of the 4 globally common types, but a much greater strain diversity has also been identified (we now recognize strains with at least 42 P-G combinations). These studies also identified globally (G9) or regionally (G5, G8, and P2A) common serotype antigens not covered by the reassortant vaccines that have undergone efficacy trials. The enormous diversity and capacity of human rotaviruses for change suggest that rotavirus vaccines must provide good heterotypic protection to be optimally effective.
This analysis of data from the Global Burden of Disease Study examines the extent of rotavirus infection and associated deaths among children younger than 5 years worldwide and whether the rotavirus vaccine has reduced the diarrhea-associated mortality.
Worldwide, approximately 1.8 million children die from diarrhea annually, and millions more suffer multiple episodes of nonfatal diarrhea. On average, in up to 40% of cases, no etiologic agent can be identified. The advent of metagenomic sequencing has enabled systematic and unbiased characterization of microbial populations; thus, metagenomic approaches have the potential to define the spectrum of viruses, including novel viruses, present in stool during episodes of acute diarrhea. The detection of novel or unexpected viruses would then enable investigations to assess whether these agents play a causal role in human diarrhea. In this study, we characterized the eukaryotic viral communities present in diarrhea specimens from 12 children by employing a strategy of “micro-mass sequencing” that entails minimal starting sample quantity (<100 mg stool), minimal sample purification, and limited sequencing (384 reads per sample). Using this methodology we detected known enteric viruses as well as multiple sequences from putatively novel viruses with only limited sequence similarity to viruses in GenBank.
Globally, norovirus is associated with approximately one-fifth of all diarrhea cases, with similar prevalence in both children and adults, and is estimated to cause over 200,000 deaths annually in developing countries. Norovirus is an important pathogen in a number of high-priority domains: it is the most common cause of diarrheal episodes globally, the principal cause of foodborne disease outbreaks in the United States, a key health care–acquired infection, a common cause of travel-associated diarrhea, and a bane for deployed military troops. Partly as a result of this ubiquity and burden across a range of different populations, identifying target groups and strategies for intervention has been challenging. And, on top of the breadth of this public health problem, there remain important gaps in scientific knowledge regarding norovirus, especially with respect to disease in low-income settings.Many pathogens can cause acute gastroenteritis. Historically, rotavirus was the most common cause of severe disease in young children globally. Now, vaccines are available for rotavirus and are universally recommended by the World Health Organization. In countries with effective rotavirus vaccination programs, disease due to that pathogen has decreased markedly, but norovirus persists and is now the most common cause of pediatric gastroenteritis requiring medical attention. However, the data supporting the precise role of norovirus in low- and middle-income settings are sparse. With vaccines in the pipeline, addressing these and other important knowledge gaps is increasingly pressing.We assembled an expert group to assess the evidence for the global burden of norovirus and to consider the prospects for norovirus vaccine development. The group assessed the evidence in the areas of burden of disease, epidemiology, diagnostics, disease attribution, acquired immunity, and innate susceptibility, and the group considered how to bring norovirus vaccines from their current state of development to a viable product that will benefit global health.
Rotavirus disease is a leading global cause of mortality and morbidity in children under 5years of age. The effectiveness of the two globally used oral rotavirus vaccines quickly became apparent when introduced into both developed and developing countries, with significant reductions in rotavirus-associated mortality and hospitalizations. However, the effectiveness and impact of the vaccines is reduced in developing country settings, where the burden and mortality is highest. New rotavirus vaccines, including live oral rotavirus candidates and non-replicating approaches continue to be developed, with the major aim to improve the global supply of rotavirus vaccines and for local implementation, and to improve vaccine effectiveness in developing settings. This review provides an overview of the new rotavirus vaccines in development by developing country manufacturers and provides a rationale why newer candidates continue to be explored. It describes the new live oral rotavirus vaccine candidates as well as the non-replicating rotavirus vaccines that are furthest along in development.
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