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USDA-ARS and PathoGenetix to Evaluate Strain Typing System on Salmonella and E. coli
Date:9/30/2013

f the GSS technology, particularly in differentiating the most virulent pathogens that pose the greatest challenges to food safety and public health investigations,” said Ann Merrifield, CEO of PathoGenetix.

Shiga-toxigenic Escherichia coli (STEC) and Salmonella enterica are an important U.S. public health concern, causing an estimated 1.2 million cases of foodborne illness each year. E. coli O157:H7, the most common of the virulent STECs, has been implicated in multiple foodborne illness outbreaks, and six additional STEC serogroups are now considered adulterants in certain beef products. Unlike STEC O157:H7, however, the “Big 6” virulent strains are not easily distinguished using available molecular testing methods. Of the more than 2500 identified strains of Salmonella enterica, 1700 of them are classified as human pathogens belonging to subspecies S. enterica I. Just 20 of these serotypes are responsible for greater than 70% of the illnesses caused by S. enterica subspecies I. Clearly there is a need to be able to rapidly and cost-effectively identify these more virulent strains when present in food products.

PathoGenetix’s GSS technology identifies microbial DNA from complex mixtures or from isolates, and automates the process from sample preparation through data analysis to provide actionable information in five hours. Because GSS scans microbial DNA directly from a mixed culture and does not require a pure culture, it can reduce the time, complexity, skill and cost required for molecular identification and strain typing. The strain type information provided by GSS is comparable to pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), the current standard for pathogen typing in foodborne outbreak investigation and response. As a result, GSS may enable quicker decisions affecting food safety and public health.

In addition to demonstrating use of GSS to identify pathogens such as Salmonella in enriched food samples in five hours, PathoGenetix research
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