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

wartz M.D. Academy Professor of Medicine (Microbiology and Molecular Genetics) at Harvard Medical School, recently returned from working alongside public health experts in Haiti where they collected samples for the study in cooperation with Haitian collaborators.

"Witnessing the scale of human suffering caused by the rapidly progressing cholera outbreak, our team was compelled to deploy a technology that could immediately provide comprehensive genomic information about this virulent strain and quickly get it into the hands of the global health and research community," said Jason Harris, M.D., Physician, Pediatric Infectious Disease Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. "In the initial stages of a major epidemic, real time is the speed we need to be working in order to have the greatest impact on saving lives."

Whole genome sequencing involves decoding the precise order of nucleotide bases that make up an organism's complete set of DNA and provides more comprehensive information than other analysis methods such as DNA fingerprinting or arrays. With advances in technology and decreasing cost, whole genome sequencing is emerging as the gold standard method for identifying and classifying infectious agents. SMRT technology is the latest advance in DNA sequencing, capable of generating long sequence reads to resolve structural variations and complex genomes at ultra-fast speeds by 'eavesdropping' on DNA replicating in real time.

"Now armed with a more complete characterization of this pathogen, the scientific community is empowered with information that can be used to inform public health policy decisions such as the appropriate use of vaccines to quell this epidemic," said Eric Schadt, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer of Pacific Biosciences and co-author of the paper. "The ability to quickly and easily perform real-time monitoring of pathogens also opens the door to using t
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Contact: Nicole Litchfield
Nicole@bioscribe.com
415-793-6468
Bioscribe
Source:Eurekalert

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