Rapid insight into the host response in patients with COVID-19 or influenza at point of care with nanopore sequencing

Rebekah Penrice-Randal

Rebekah Penrice-Randal, University of Liverpool, UK


The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic requires rapid insight into disease mechanisms to facilitate public health responses and improvement of patient care. Nanopore transcriptomic sequencing allows for rapid identification of RNAs that are changing during disease. The blood transcriptome of patients at point of care with COVID-19 and influenza was compared to identify transcripts that were unique in COVID-19. The response to severe disease in humans was compared to that in a mouse model of severe infection. This highlighted common genes that were essential in the host response. Together with post-mortem analysis of diseased tissue, this paints a picture of uncontrolled immune pathology.


Rebekah has a Ph.D. in virology from the Hiscox Lab at the University of Liverpool and is now a postdoctoral research associate. Rebekah worked on evaluating therapeutic mutagens on viral replication using different sequencing methodologies. This evolved to working on clinical samples from patients with MERS-CoV in Saudi Arabia, and now SARS-CoV-2 in the UK. Rebekah utilises rapid sequencing methods provided by Oxford Nanopore to evaluate viral genome sequences, investigate the meta-transcriptome from clinical samples, and to explore the host response.