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Informing epidemic (research) responses in a timely fashion by knowledge management - a Zika virus use case

By Angela Bauch, Johann Pellet, Tina Schleicher, Xiao Yu, Andrea Gelemanović, Cosimo Cristella, Pieter L Fraaij, Ozren Polasek, Charles Auffray, Dieter Maier, M.P.G. Koopmans, Menno D. de Jong

Posted 18 Apr 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.04.17.044743

The response of pathophysiological research to emerging epidemics often occurs after the epidemic and, as a consequence, has little to no impact on improving patient outcomes or on developing high-quality evidence to inform clinical management strategies during the epidemic. Rapid and informed guidance of epidemic (research) responses to severe infectious disease outbreaks requires quick compilation and integration of existing pathophysiological knowledge. As a case study we chose the Zika virus (ZIKV) outbreak that started in 2015 to develop a proof-of-concept knowledge repository. To extract data from available sources and build a computationally tractable and comprehensive molecular interaction map we applied generic knowledge management software for literature mining, expert knowledge curation, data integration, reporting and visualisation. A multi-disciplinary team of experts, including clinicians, virologists, bioinformaticians and knowledge management specialists, followed a pre-defined workflow for rapid integration and evaluation of available evidence. While conventional approaches usually require months to comb through the existing literature, the initial ZIKV KnowledgeBase (ZIKA KB) was completed within a few weeks. Recently we updated the ZIKA KB with additional curated data from the large amount of literature published since 2016 and made it publicly available through a web interface together with a step-by-step guide to ensure reproducibility of the described use case (S4). In addition, a detailed online user manual is provided to enable the ZIKV research community to generate hypotheses, share knowledge, identify knowledge gaps, and interactively explore and interpret data (S5). A workflow for rapid response during outbreaks was generated, validated and refined and is also made available. The process described here can be used for timely structuring of pathophysiological knowledge for future threats. The resulting structured biological knowledge is a helpful tool for computational data analysis and generation of predictive models and opens new avenues for infectious disease research. ### Competing Interest Statement AB, TS and DM are employed at Biomax Informatics AG and will therefore be affected by any effect of this publication on the commercial version of the BioXM software. JP, XY, AG, CC, PF, OP, CA, MK and MdJ are employed at academic institutes and will therefore be affected by any effect of this publication on their publication records.

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