New, faster sequencing technologies have revolutionised our understanding of genomes, exemplified, for example, in the work of the ENCODE Consortium that described new exploration of the human genome. But it is in tackling infectious agents that widespread application of new sequencing technologies is likely to be used most quickly and comprehensively for healthcare improvement.
This study used these new technologies to examine an outbreak of MRSA in a hospital, to uncover new cases and, as the study developed, to intervene in the outbreak to end it more quickly. Sequencing illuminated each person infected and described the transmission of MRSA between people coming to the hospital and within the hospital. This is believed to be the first time that sequencing has been used to close an infectious outbreak and will be published in Lancet Infectious Diseases.
Professor Sharon Peacock, Professor of Clinical Microbiology, University of Cambridge
Dr Julian Parkhill, Head of Pathogen Genomics at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Cambridge
Dr Nicholas Brown, Consultant Medical Microbiologist, Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge