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Ion Torrent PGM Enables Rapid Identification of New Hybrid E. coli Strain in European Outbreak
Parul Chawla | 08 Jul 2011

India on high alert against deadly E. coli strain

The recent outbreak of E coli in Germany that killed 31people and made more than 3000 seriously ill, is spreading to other north European countries. Life Technologies Corporation announced that preliminary data from DNA sequencing performed in cooperation with the University Hospital Muenster, Germany, on the Ion Personal Genome Machine (PGM™), strongly suggests that the bacterium at the root of the deadly outbreak in Germany is a new hybrid type of pathogenic E. coli strains.
 
It took researchers using the PGMTM in China and Germany only three hours to produce a preliminary genetic sequence identifying a particularly virulent E. coli bacterium in recent weeks. The older generation machines can take days if not weeks to produce the same information.
 
The data obtained from the DNA sequencer shows the presence of genes typically found in two different types of E. coli: enteroaggregative E. coli (EAEC) and enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC). These results, which are being confirmed by further data analysis on the Ion PGM™, may provide insight into this bacterium's aggressiveness and help prevent further outbreaks. "The rapid whole genome sequencing results enabled us to discover within days a unique combination of virulence traits, and makes this German outbreak clone a unique hybrid of different E. coli pathovars," said Dr. Alexander Mellmann, scientist at the German National Consulting Laboratory for Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS) at the Institute of Hygiene, University Hospital Muenster.
 
To detect the bacterium, Life Technologies began shipping its custom E. coli testing kits to European laboratories this week to screen contaminated food.
 
When asked about the scenario in India, Devashish Ohri, MD, of Life Technologies, South Asia Operations, mentioned “The government and private research laboratories in India are moving towards innovative approaches of using the PGM to identify bacterial strains. Here, our Invitrogen consumables and Applied Biosystems instruments provide a wide spectrum of solutions to meet research and investigators need in fighting some of the challenges that we’re facing nowadays. 
 
Dr. Maneesh Jain, Head of Marketing, Ion Torrent (US) adds further, “The role we are playing in helping the world with the E. coli outbreak, just like we did with the H1N1 crisis, connects us directly with the scientists all across the world”.
 
The PGM’s versatility, speed and cost effectiveness allows health authorities and scientists to deploy this technology not only in the metros but also other cities, which will enable even faster responsiveness to further such events.
 
The Ion Torrent Personal Genome Machine sequencer is for research use only. Not for use in diagnostic procedures.