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Development of a Swiss surveillance database for molecular epidemiology of multi-drug resistant pathogens

English title Development of a Swiss surveillance database for molecular epidemiology of multi-drug resistant pathogens
Applicant Egli Adrian
Number 177504
Funding scheme NRP 72 Antimicrobial Resistance
Research institution Departement Biomedizin Universität Basel
Institution of higher education University of Basel - BS
Main discipline Infectious Diseases
Start/End 01.03.2018 - 28.02.2021
Approved amount 400'000.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Infectious Diseases
Medical Microbiology

Keywords (7)

phylodynamic modelling; oneHealth; Multidrug resistance; Whole genome sequencing; Surveillance; Molecular Epidemiology; MRSA

Lay Summary (German)

Entwicklung einer schweizweiten Überwachungsdatenbank für molekulare Epidemiologie von multi-resistenten Pathogenen.
Lay summary
Multi-resistente Bakterien werden im Menschen zunehmend häufiger entdeckt und sind mit einer erhöhten Morbidität und Mortalität und hohen Gesundheitskosten assoziiert. Auch in der Veterinärmedizin führen multi-resistente Bakterien zu hohen Kosten und sind ein Reservoir für Übertragungen vom Tier auf den Mensch.
Die Verbreitung der multi-resistenten Bakterien ist sehr komplex. Der genetische Vergleich von Bakterien mit modernsten Methoden wie dem whole genome sequencing hilft hierbei die Komplexität der Übertragungen und Dynamiken zwischen Mensch und Tier besser zu verstehen. Durch die Bestimmung der genetischen Ähnlichkeit zwischen Bakterien kann deren Vertreibung sehr genau zu studiert werden. Je ähnlicher zwei Bakterienisolate sind, desto kürzer ist die Zeit seit der Übertragung. Phylogenien können die Ähnlichkeit grafisch erfassen und darstellen. Eine detaillierte Überwachung von multi-resistenten Bakterien in einer Schweiz-weiten Datenbank erlaubt die Verbreitung und Übertragung zeitlich und geographisch einzuschätzen. Hierbei können sehr wichtige und wertvolle Erkenntnisse für Ausbrüche im Spital und in der Bevölkerung gewonnen werden.

Ziele des Projekts:
Das Hauptziel ist die Verknüpfung von mikrobiologischen Laboratorien durch die Schaffung eines gemeinsamen Netzwerks für eine nahezu Echtzeit molekular-epidemiologische Überwachung und Analytik von multi-resistenten Bakterien. Hierzu soll eine Überwachungsdatenbank unter Verwendung von bakteriellen Sequenzierungsdaten von unterschiedlichen Institutionen geschaffen werden. Die Typisierungsdaten werden vom Universitätsspitals Basel, dem Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois, dem Hopitaux Universitaires de Genève und von VetSuisse beigetragen. Die technische Expertise zum Aufbau der Datenbank liefert das Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics und das Biozentrum der Universität Basel. Die Datenbank soll ermöglichen genetische Daten von Bakterien in Form einer Phylogenie darzustellen und zeitliche, geographische und weiteren Metadaten zu erfassen.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 20.01.2018

Responsible applicant and co-applicants



Symposium report: One Health meets sequencing
Egli Adrian, Koch Daniel, Danuser Jürg, Hendriksen Rene S., Driesen Susanne, Schmid Diana Coman, Neher Richard, Mäusezahl Mirjam, Seth-Smith Helena M.B., Bloemberg Guido, Tschudin-Sutter Sarah, Endimiani Andrea, Perreten Vincent, Greub Gilbert, Schrenzel Jacques, Stephan Roger (2020), Symposium report: One Health meets sequencing, in Microbes and Infection, 22(1), 1-7.

Scientific events


Title Date Place
One Health meets Sequencing 21.05.2019 Luzern, Switzerland

Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Talks/events/exhibitions Mikroben unter uns German-speaking Switzerland 2019


Background:Multi-drug resistant (MDR) bacterial pathogens clearly pose an important challenge to our society at multiple levels: in humans, MDR pathogens are increasingly detected and associated with significant morbidity, mortality and health care costs. Similarly, in veterinary medicine, MDR bacteria lead to a high economic burden and constitute a reservoir for dangerous zoonoses representing a serious public health concern. The spread of many bacterial pathogens is complex, and understanding the most important routes of transmission is a precondition for effective countermeasures. A better understanding of transmission events and dynamics between compartments (animals and humans) would be a critical guide to containment. We anticipate that a shared surveillance database between human and veterinary medicine coupled to state-of-the-art automated phylogenetic analysis will enable a more complete and detailed surveillance of MDR pathogens and generate actionable results for public health policy.Objective of the project:The main goal is to connect human and veterinary microbiology laboratories through a shared framework for near real-time molecular epidemiology of MDR bacterial pathogens, which will allow to perform transmission and outbreak surveillance between different species and the environement.Specific aims include:- Implementation of an active surveillance system using methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) as a proof-of-concept, which can be expanded to many other one-health related MDR pathogens.- Continuous development of a highly flexible surveillance tool, which allows to incorporate molecular epidemiological data from whole genome sequencing (WGS) and important metadata information.- Development of a semi-automated modelling tool to assess transmission rates between geographic locations, hospitals, communities, and species over time and space.- Preparation for expansion with different other species including carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriacea.- Connection to international databases for global surveillance.Approaches and methods:WGS data from different institutions (human outbreak typing data from USB, CHUV, HUG and from animals of VetSuisse) will be combined in a common database. As a basis for the development of the web interface and underlying database, and will be adapted for bacteria and the Swiss context. We will design a database that allows upload of new sequences and metadata by different sites. This will be developed jointly by SIB experts in software development and bioinformatics, and the Neher Group at the Biozentrum who created NextStrain. The uploaded data will be automatically assessed for sequence quality and metadata consistency. In particular, USB, an ISO-accredited NGS facility for routine microbiology diagnos-tics, will provide the quality control tools and verify/biocurate the uploaded strains and metadata on a regular basis, in collaboration with SIB (via the competence center for biocuration). The award-winning phylogenetic analysis and visualization tool NextStrain (Open Science Award by NIH and Wellcome Trust) will be adapted to intuitively display metadata collected at the various study sites (e.g. time of isolation, geographical origin, species, screening vs. invasive, phenotypic resistance information). Moreover, state-of-the-art phylogenetic tools will by used to infer timetrees and transmission rates. The implementation will be tested with a broad collection of already WGSed MRSA isolates from Switzerland (WP2-3). During the project, MRSA isolates will be prospectively sequenced and added to the database while the analysis pipelines is rerun whenever new data is added (WP4).National and international cooperations envisaged: The establishement of a Swiss wide, scalable and flexible database for molecular epidemiology would allow to monitor different MDR pathogens in near real-time. Importantly, combining both animal and human isolates with geographic and phylogenic data will allow modelling the exchange rates between different hosts. Special attention will be devoted to ensure that genomes can also be analysed in a global context by comparing with existing databases such as BIGSdb, potentially contributing to global monitoring of MDR pathogens.Timeframe and mile stones:- WP1: Functional specification - assess the needs of clinical microbiologists, veterinarians & researchers regarding the planned surveillance database- WP2: Knowledge and data representation with tool implantation with retrospective MRSA data - define structured database and implement the tools- WP3: Impact study with MRSA retrospective data - assess the impact of the surveillance system with MRSA retrospective data. Semi-automated tools provided by the surveillance database including time tree analysis within the cohort.- WP4: Validation studies with prospective MRSA - extend to individual prospective MRSA projects for validation- WP5: Release and dissemination to other partners - ensure the produced data are reusable by 3rd party tools and resources.Expected benefit and possible applications of results:The framework will allow exchanging relevant molecular epidemiological data - thereby enabling a one Health surveillance system for the transmission of MDR pathogens between different species and environments. The detailed information on relevant strains would be interesting for various stakeholders: (i) human and animal microbiologists could better understand transmission routes and develop new prevention strategies at the most critical cross-points, (ii) public health authorities would have a near real-time surveillance tool for a detailed assessment and tracking of single strains but also large scale outbreaks, (iii) basic researchers could access the database and use the available WGS data to develop more complex transmission models, which go beyond an automated surveillance. The proposed initial proof-of-concept study with a focus on MRSA isolates is planned to be expanded to other MDR pathogens e.g. carbapenemase or mcr-1 positive Enterobacteriacea.