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Previously discovered hepatitis-associated Parvovirus-Circovirus Hybrid Presumed Laboratory Contaminant

Metagenomics has been responsible for the discovery of various novel and clinically relevant human and environmental microorganisms. However, great care must be taken with the conclusions each group makes concerning whether a novel microorganism is associated with any given disease or phenotype.
Previously, a hybrid DNA virus in Chinese patients with seronegative hepatitis was recovered by deep sequencing and termed NIH-CQV. While 63/90 patients were positive, all healthy controls were negative.
This latest paper initially identified a virus in clinical samples that shares ∼99% nucleotide and amino acid identity to NIH-CQV. However, after repeated recoveries in negative controls, the origins of the contaminating virus was traced to silica-binding spin columns used for nucleic acid extraction. They then tested ocean samples for this virus as oceanic diatoms (algae) are used to generate the silica matrix used in these spin columns. The same sequences were recovered in these samples indicating an inadvertent viral contamination during the manufacturing process.
This, just like the case of XMRV, serves as a humble lesson to all of those in the field of metagenomics.

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