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Pathogen sequencing stepped up in UK

The ‘PHE Pathogen Genomics Service’ is being launched by Public Health England (PHE).

Scientists have already sequenced more than 1,500 strains of Salmonella, representative of about 10% of the strains seen in the UK annually, to provide a background dataset, said Christine McCartney, PHE director of microbiology services.

We have already used WGS to support the management of recent outbreaks of Salmonella and it is proving to be an invaluable tool in identifying and clarifying relationships between strains and potential food sources,” she said in a blog post .

Microbiologists increasingly rely on the extraction or detection of nucleic acid particularly for microorganisms that cannot be cultured using traditional techniques.

Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) enables strain identification and detailed fingerprinting within a single method – so it reduces the time to a result.

McCartney said DNA sequencing technologies mean they will be able deliver genetic information of each Salmonella strain within a time frame that will influence clinical and public health practice.

“…although we also need to validate WGS as a fingerprinting tool, it promises to revolutionize the lives of microbiologists and bioinformaticians working in public health microbiology,” she added.

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