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Genomics and Molecular Epidemiology of Human Paramyxoviruses in Croatia

Project title: Genomics and Molecular Epidemiology of Human Paramyxoviruses in Croatia

Grantor: Croatian Science Foundation

Grantor’s website: http://www.hrzz.hr/

Principal investigator: Dubravko Forčić, PhD

Duration: 01.09.2014.- 31.08.2018.

Project’s web page: http://www.unizg.hr/homepage/about-university/the-structure-of-the-university/rectorate/office-for-science-and-technology/

Research team:      Maja Šantak, PhD

Jelena Ivančić Jelečki, PhD

Tanja Košutić Gulija, PhD

Krešo Bendelja, PhD

Goran Tešović, PhD, MD

Sunčanica Ljubin Sternak, PhD, MD

Maja Markušić, PhD

Ana Savić, mag.biol.mol.

Mladen Jergović, mag.biol.mol.

Anamarija  Slović, mag.biol.mol.

Total funding: 990.000,00 HRK

Brief description:

The family Paramyxoviridae harbors a broad spectrum of serious virus pathogens that are of importance to global economics and human health. Paramyxoviruses are RNA viruses with a single-stranded negative sense genome. They have been isolated from a wide variety of species, demonstrating a vast host range and great viral genetic diversity. These ubiquitous pathogens are among the most common causatives of respiratory tract infections and are responsible for a high degree of morbidity and mortality worldwide. The biology of RNA viruses is influenced by their high potential of continuous evolution. Because of the error-prone nature of their RNA-dependent RNA polymerases and large population sizes, RNA viruses show high levels of genetic diversity. Mutations can significantly influence virus biological properties and lead to appearance of new strains. The knowledge of viral evolution depends on the amount of genomic data available for analysis.

We propose the research of viral genomics of wild type paramyxoviruses currently circulating in Croatia. It is our goal to increase the number of genetically well characterized paramyxoviral wild-type strains. The proposed work will add to knowledge about paramyxoviral ecology, variability and evolutionary capacities. As molecular epidemiologic monitoring of circulating wild type viruses enables analysis of current relations between existing viral genotypes, it is an invaluable part of virus surveillance and control, facilitating the detection of endemic areas, estimations of vaccine efficacies and predications of possible outbreaks. This research would provide the basis for molecular characterization and monitoring of a number of paramyxoviruses circulating in the Republic of Croatia. Being an invaluable part of virus surveillance and control, molecular epidemiology studies help in identifying transmission pathways and bottlenecks and enable distinguishing between wild-type and vaccine strains. Besides, genome sequencing and genetic analyses form a basis for investigation of viral biology, variability and adaptability. Recognition of major evolutionary events, their consequences on virus pathogenesis and on our ability to prevent outbreaks and epidemics are directly dependent on the amount of genetic data available for analysis.