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Genetics and Epidemiology of Hantaviruses


Study of the Genetic and Serologic Diversity of Hantaviruses in the Asian Part of Russia

Tech Area / Field

  • BIO-CGM/Cytology, Genetics and Molecular Biology/Biotechnology
  • BIO-CHM/Biochemistry/Biotechnology

8 Project completed

Registration date

Completion date

Senior Project Manager
Gremyakova T A

Leading Institute
State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology VECTOR, Russia, Novosibirsk reg., Koltsovo

Supporting institutes

  • Institute of Systematics and Ecology of Animals, Russia, Novosibirsk reg., Novosibirsk\nKhabarovsk Antiplague Station, Russia, Khabarovsk reg., Khabarovsk


  • State University of New York University at Buffalo / School of Medicine and Biomolecular Sciences, USA, NY, Buffalo\nUniversity of Hawai'i at Manoa / Burns School of Medicine, USA, Honolulu\nUS Department of Health & Human Services, USA, Washington DC

Project summary

Hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS), a natural-focus disease caused by hantaviruses, is reported to occur in Russia. The data on hantavirus genotypes distribution in rodent carriers within Asian Russia are not yet well studied. Only those isolated from Microtus fortis in the Far East and Lemmus in Arctic Siberia have been characterized in detail. No association with human disease have been established. The studies of the other hantavirus strains isolated in the Far East have been performed using secondary sources (cultured strains), and therefore, cannot be regarded as a reliable source of data. The hantaviruses have not been characterized across most Siberia, the activity has just begun in Omsk region. The importance of the research is due to the features of hantaviruses in Asian Russia. More severe HFRS occurs in the Russian Far East than in European Russia, whilst in Western Siberia the number of registered HFRS cases is much lower than the study of the immune cohort of the locals suggests. The reason for this discrepancy could be poor diagnostics tools, or/and irregular forms of hantavirus infection in that region. While we were at the pilot project, ISTC 805-97, we began studying the type of hantaviruses causing HFRS in the foci of Primorsky Kray and Khabarovsk Kray. Finally, we have identified a new genetic variant (possibly a new genotype) of Hantaan virus, designated as Amur according to its geographic origin, and two new subtypes of Hantaan and Seoul viruses.

Project Goal and Expected Results.

As the first stage, we are planning to find out which rodents carry the new genetic subtypes of hantaviruses pathogenic to humans, and to go on with the genetic characterization of the other hantaviruses circulating among rodents in Russian Far East (Primorsky Kray and Khabarovsk Kray).

At the second stage, we shall study the genetic and serological persity of hantaviruses in Siberia (Tyumen, Tomsk, Novosibirsk, Chita regions, Krasnoyarsk Kray and Gorny Altai). The importance of the approach suggested is that samples from rodents will be directly assayed.

Both those to be collected in 2000–2001 and those kept in collections (1994–1998) samples will be analyzed by ELISA or IFA followed by reverse transcription and "nested" PCR amplification. The cDNA fragments from PCR positive samples will be sequenced for identification of the genotype. These studies will generate new information on the serologic and genetic persity of hantaviruses in the Far East and Siberia, the hantavirus cDNA primary structure over the period of 1994–1998, and 2000–2001, the variability of the virus isolates, on the prevalence of various genotypes of hantavirus among the different rodent species of the Asian part of Russia, on identification of natural reservoirs of hantaviruses pathogenic to humans.

Importance of the Project.

Data obtained under this Project will be used for raising the efficacy of prophylaxis in Siberia and Russian Far East. Determination of the nucleotide structure of the genomic fragments will open up prospects for updating diagnostic test kits for hantaviral infection markers using recombinant antigens on the basis of factual data on their genetic persity. Besides, this will allow the sets of primers for PCR diagnostics of HFRS to be optimized. Genetic characterization of hantaviruses in the region will be the basis to the development of recombinant vaccines against local HFRS agents.

The Project will recruit Vector staff, who have years of experience in handling human-pathogenic viruses. For the purposes of field research and biosampling, the Khabarovsk Antiplague Station personnel will be recruited, running hantavirus research in the Far East, and researchers, and the people of the Institute of Systematics and Ecology of Animals, conducting the ecology of small mammals in Siberia.

This Project will allow a broader range of the former defense scientists to bring in their experience for fundamental research of health care and anti-HFRS value to the international scene.


The International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) is an intergovernmental organization connecting scientists from Kazakhstan, Armenia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Georgia with their peers and research organizations in the EU, Japan, Republic of Korea, Norway and the United States.


ISTC facilitates international science projects and assists the global scientific and business community to source and engage with CIS and Georgian institutes that develop or possess an excellence of scientific know-how.

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