Rapid, next-day access to information regarding micro-organism species, drug resistance, and relatedness would be an unprecedented advance for infectious disease treatment and control.
The existing multiplicity of disconnected pathogen-specific systems make fast, cheap and comprehensive characterization impossible. However, such information could be deduced from whole-genome sequence analysis of the disease-causing microorganisms.
Professor Derrick Crook of Oxford University and his collaborators propose to translate whole-genome sequencing into routine clinical microbiological practice. The goals of their 3 year programme are to demonstrate locally-based genome sequencing operating in a network of routine NHS service laboratories at Oxford, Brighton, Birmingham and Leeds. This will serve as a model for a national surveillance system and a faster, more informative alternative to centralized reference facilities for infection prevention and control. Currently analysis of a single clinical sample may take days-to-months. The aim is to provide complete pathogen information within 24h of culture, linked to a national surveillance database thereby enabling more timely and better targeted patient treatment.