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Pacific Biosciences and Harvard scientists decode genome of Haitian cholera pathogen
Date:12/10/2010

Menlo Park, Calif. December 9, 2010 Scientists from Pacific Biosciences of California, Inc. (NASDAQ: PACB) and Harvard Medical School have successfully employed single molecule, real-time (SMRT) DNA sequencing technology to rapidly characterize the pathogen responsible for the recent deadly cholera epidemic in Haiti. Published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine, the results provide the first whole genome sequence analysis and most detailed genetic profile to date of the Haitian Vibrio cholerae outbreak strain.

The multi-strain sequencing and bioinformatic analysis confirm that the cholera pathogen now present in Haiti is closely related to the "El Tor O1" variant from South Asia. Given that the existence of this strain has never been documented in the Caribbean region or throughout Latin America, the evidence suggests that the Haitian epidemic began as a result of the introduction of a new strain from a distant geographic source. While the sequence analysis confirms a South Asian lineage, it does not identify the specific source of the Haitian strain or suggest how it may have arrived in the country.

In this collaboration, DNA prepared from five V. cholerae strains at Harvard Medical School was received at Pacific Biosciences on Wednesday, November 10, 2010. "Through the truly remarkable and dedicated efforts of Dr. Schadt and his colleagues at PacBio, we had a good understanding of the genome of the Haitian V. cholerae isolates and their likely origin by Friday evening, November 12," said John Mekalanos, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at Harvard Medical School, a senior author on the study. "This understanding has important public health policy implications for preventing cholera outbreaks in the future."

Members of a team led by Stephen Calderwood, M.D., Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital and Morton N. S
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Contact: Nicole Litchfield
Nicole@bioscribe.com
415-793-6468
Bioscribe
Source:Eurekalert

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