FDA awards contract for genetic sequencing of pathogens

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently awarded a research program contract to researchers at the Institute for Genome Sciences at the University of Maryland School of Medicine to expand pathogen genome sequencing.

The researchers will use two high-throughput sequencing technologies to sequence, assemble and annotate a population of bacterial pathogens. The results will be added to a vetted public reference database, Global Biodefense reports.

"This database will be an important reference for the scientific and medical diagnostic communities," Claire Fraser, the director of the Institute for Genome Sciences, said, according to Global Biodefense. "We have worked with federal agencies and global scientific partners to sequence and analyze an extensive population of bacterial pathogens since our Institute launched in 2007 and are pleased to develop this reference database with the FDA."

The database of microbial genome sequences and associated metadata will be used as a resource to evaluate and assess HTS-based diagnostic devices. By using two HTS platforms and multiple software packages, the researchers will be able to cross-validate consensus sequences for the highest possible accuracy.

The Institute for Genome Sciences' Genomics Resource Center was created to serve the global bioinformatics and genomics communities. The facility has sequenced and analyzed more than 5,000 microbial genome sequences in the past five years, Global Biodefense reports.