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This Week in Science: Jan 4, 2019

In Science this week, an international group of researchers describe the use metagenomic nanopore sequencing to study a record upsurge of infection during last year's Nigerian Lassa fever season. They used Oxford Nanopore's MinIon device to sequence 120 patient samples obtained at the epicenter of a developing outbreak, providing genomic data and phylogenetic reconstructions to Nigerian authorities and the World Health Organization as they became available. Real-time analysis of 36 genomes and subsequent confirmation using all 120 samples sequenced in the country of origin did not implicate novel virus strain or suggest the emergence of extensive person-to-person disease transmission. These conclusions eased fears and allowed public health resources to be allocated appropriately, the authors say. GenomeWeb has more on this study, here.

And in Science Translational Medicine, a Johns Hopkins-led team presents a new saliva-based assay for diagnosing subclinical malaria infections not readily detectable with existing rapid diagnostic or microscopy. The researchers saliva samples from 12 children with subclinical malaria and found 35 protein markers of the disease-causing Plasmodium falciparum parasite, one of which was used to develop a point-of-need antibody-based lateral flow immunoassay that was validated in additional samples from children from Cameroon and Zambia with subclinical infection.