Whole-genome sequencing to combat spread of Gonorrhoea


Doctors and scientists from MMM, Public Health England and The Royal Sussex County Hospital, Brighton published their whole-genome sequencing based tool to track the spread of Neisseria gonorrhoea infections in The Lancet Infectious Diseases today.
Using samples collected in Britain and the USA they found genetic evidence from the infections showing how cases were linked to each other. The team used around 1300 samples from Brighton, London, Wales and northern England collected over 5 years (2011-2015) to work out which cases could have been caught from other cases in Brighton, or from elsewhere in the UK or the USA.
Dr Dilrini De Silva, a bioinformatician who co-led the computational analyses is most fascinated by the team finding some people having multiple infections at different body sites, sometimes with different susceptibility to antibiotics. This showed how some patients can be part of more than one cluster of infections at the same time.
Dr David Eyre, who co-led the study, said: ‘There are several potential applications of this study. It clearly shows that action to tackle antibiotic-resistant gonorrhoea needs to be coordinated across national boundaries. However, using whole genome sequencing to track transmission of these infections is feasible. Sequencing can overcome some of the weaknesses in traditional partner notification tracing, while at the same time enabling us to spot risk factors and better target health interventions. It could even be used to notify contacts by using the same apps used to set up sexual encounters.’



You can read more about the study from the  University of Oxford Press Release, available here:  http://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2016-07-12-gene-sequencing-offers-way-beat-global-spread-gonorrhoea


The original research paper is available via the Lancet Infectious Diseases:
Whole-genome sequencing to determine transmission of Neisseria gonorrhoeae: an observational study

Commentary: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/laninf/article/PIIS1473-3099(16)30223-7/abstract

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