Pine Biotech to Support COVID-19 Wastewater Sequencing Project by Louisiana State University BioMMED

SARS-COV-2 variants of concern

The Division of BIOMMED at LSU School of Veterinary Medicine has been analyzing wastewater samples from different locations in East Baton Rouge as well as LSU dorms in collaboration with Dept of Civil and Environmental Engineering for detection of viral genomes. This strategy has helped the university address transmission by getting a head notice about a potential infection spreading on campus. Q-PCR analysis is currently being used to detect viral Genome Units in wastewater collected from near dorm sites as well as wastewater processing stations around EBR.

Recently, novel variants were identified in the SARS-COV-2 virus that increase transmission and potentially help the virus evade the immune response. These have been reported in the UK, South Africa and are now expected to make their way into the US. Getting an advance notice on such variants appearing in Louisiana and specifically among students living on campus is a major part of being prepared with a mitigation strategy. Therefore, LSU BIOMMED conducted Next Gen Sequencing studies using our Illumina MiSeq platform.

BIOMMED has partnered with Pine Biotech, a New-Orleans based bioinformatics company to analyze the sequencing data. Pine Biotech works closely with the Tauber Bioinformatics Research Center at University of Haifa, Israel, which specializes in custom development of research tools for research projects focused on virology studies. Utilizing pipelines for processing and analysis of genomic data, the team was able to study genomic variation in collected samples and identify commonly reported mutations in some samples. Since the data was collected over a time of several months, this analysis reveals important information about viral transmission among students in comparison to the rest of the city. Encouraged by these preliminary results, the collaborative team will seek joint funding to expand the number of samples that will allow LSU and potentially the whole city to benefit from advanced notice if a novel strain emerges. This will allow local and regional government to develop mitigation strategies that have been shown to be successful at LSU based on PCR testing.

Division of Biotechnology and Molecular Medicine (BIOMMED).

BIOMMED (Kousoulas, Director): BIOMMED is an administrative unit within LSU-SVM. It occupies over 3,000 square feet of space located on the third floor of the LSU SVM, as well as at Wilson Hall (LSU main campus). BIOMMED is a participant and provides training facilities and resources for the LSU-led National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), Idea Network for Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) program and the Center for Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) program. Dr. K G Kousoulas is the Principal Investigator of the Louisiana INBRE – LBRN (P20GM103424) and Head, Depart of Pathobiological Sciences.

About Pine Biotech, Inc.

Pine Biotech, Inc. is a big data analytics company that works with academic and industry partners to advance analytical capacity focused on translational research. With a team of experts specializing in bioinformatics, the company provides tools, support services and training in data-related challenges such as analytics, machine learning and AI. The company is based at the New Orleans BioInnovation Center and works closely with Louisiana State University on a variety of translational research projects and training programs. Learn more:

About Tauber Bioinformatics Research Center

The Tauber Bioinformatics Research Center was established at the University of Haifa to address the challenges with high throughput “omics” data by developing scalable high-performance computing (HPC) hardware/software solutions for existing and novel challenges of “big data” in biomedicine and agrobiology. The Center recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Louisiana State University on academic collaboration for research projects. Read more:

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