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LGC hosts a sucessful workshop on pathogenic microbes sequencing

LGC hosts pathogenic microbes sequencing workshop

The workshop, hosted at LGC and organised by LGC and Great Ormond Street Hospital, formed part of the Microbial molecular profiling and identification series and focused on the use of next generation sequencing (NGS) for the detection of human infectious disease. NGS is a way of sequencing DNA at much higher throughput, meaning that you can identify the sequence of millions of DNA strands in one single run.

Genomic approaches such as NGS are increasingly being used to identify microbial organisms. High throughput sequencing (either whole genome or targeted) currently offers a method for identifying pathogens, evaluating phylogenetic composition and quantifying microbial diversity.

The application of NGS methods in the area of pathogen identification has recently been boosted by the introduction of new technologies, offering a range of sequencing strategies and supported by a number of reference databases. Clinically, the capacity of NGS to generate large data sets offers new strategies for typing pathogens and identifying drug resistance, thus enabling the rapid identification of emerging infectious diseases and tracking of outbreaks.

The morning session featured keynote presentations from Dr Vladimir Benes, from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory; Dr Kathryn Harris, from Great Ormond Street Hospital; Dr Philip Ashton, from Public Health England; and Dr Edward Mee, from the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control.  It featured an overview of NGS strategies and the challenges faced by those who are applying this technology to study infectious diseases.

The afternoon session focused on technology and methods for improving standardisation. Professor David Studholme, from the University of Exeter, discussed the application of DNA sequencing to the outbreak of infectious diseases. Dr Mette Christiansen, from University College London, discussed PATHSEEK, a project which aims to develop and set up an automated, user-friendly disruptive NGS platform for use in diagnostic microbiology. LGC’s Dr Denise O’Sullivan presented on the quantification of bacterial DNA for metagenomic control materials and Dr Justin O’Grady, from the University of East Anglia discussed strategies for sequencing based pathogen detection in blood.

Dr Jim Huggett, Science Leader for Nucleic Acid Metrology Research within the Molecular Biology group, said: “It was great to have so many people attend the workshop yesterday. There were around 50 delegates and we had some very interesting and thought provoking discussion sessions.”