Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Researchers use genomics to investigate tuberculosis outbreak in Canada

Date:
February 23, 2011
Source:
Genome BC
Summary:
Scientists have set a new standard for studying outbreaks of infectious disease by combining advanced genomics with a detailed map of the social relationships between cases to investigate a recent outbreak of tuberculosis in a community in British Columbia, Canada.

Scientists supported by Genome BC have set a new standard for studying outbreaks of infectious disease by combining advanced genomics with a detailed map of the social relationships between cases to investigate a recent outbreak of tuberculosis in a BC community.

The study tracked 41 individuals who developed tuberculosis: patient interviews revealed a tightly-knit community where most patients knew one another, while DNA fingerprinting of the bacterial samples from each individual showed them to be identical to each other. These two factors together made reconstructing the outbreak family tree impossible.

In order to get a more detailed picture of how TB spread through the community, researchers from the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), Canada's Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre and Simon Fraser University turned to whole genome sequencing to discern subtle genetic differences between different bacterial strains. These slight differences allowed them to identify individual transmission events, in which one patient can be identified as the most likely source of the subsequent patient's infection. By looking at all of the transmission events revealed by the data, the researchers were able to identify not only where the outbreak organism had originated, but also how it had moved throughout the community.

"Genome sequencing used to be prohibitively expensive, so it was simply impossible to sequence the bacteria from all the patients involved in an outbreak and we had to go with the next best thing, DNA fingerprinting," says Dr. Jennifer Gardy at the BCCDC. "Now, however, sequencing tens, hundreds, or thousands of bacterial isolates is very doable in a reasonable timeframe and at a manageable cost. We can figure out how these bacteria are related to each other by comparing their genome sequences, and when we overlay that information onto a map of the social relationships between cases we can actually reconstruct the path by which an infectious agent worked its way through a population."

Understanding how an organism enters and spreads through a population is key to public health efforts to manage an outbreak and prevent future cases. This particular study revealed that rather than chains of transmission, in which one person infects another who then infects another and so on, this outbreak was the result of bursts of transmission, where some individuals infected several contacts and others infected none. Knowledge of patterns like this can be used to identify which individuals in a community or in an outbreak should be proactively screened for disease and treated promptly if they test positive thereby mitigating the incidence of these bursts of infection.

"Our findings are already starting to influence how we investigate other TB outbreaks and how we're screening people who might be at risk for developing TB," says Gardy. "We've been able to take our study's findings and put them into practice right away."

"Being able to fund this timely and critical research is what makes Genome BC unique and in this instance, assisting outside of our traditional programs had a significant public impact. Genomics technology was crucial to the success of this study and reflects the value it can lend to public health in a larger context," says Dr. Alan Winter, President and CEO of Genome BC.

The BC researchers' findings have caught the eye of the wider medical community -- their findings will be published in the February 24th issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Genome BC. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jennifer L. Gardy et al. Whole-Genome Sequencing and Social-Network Analysis of a Tuberculosis Outbreak. NEJM, February 24, 2011 DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1003176

Cite This Page:

Genome BC. "Researchers use genomics to investigate tuberculosis outbreak in Canada." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 February 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110223171241.htm>.
Genome BC. (2011, February 23). Researchers use genomics to investigate tuberculosis outbreak in Canada. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110223171241.htm
Genome BC. "Researchers use genomics to investigate tuberculosis outbreak in Canada." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110223171241.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

TheStreet (July 21, 2014) New research shows Gilead Science's drug Sovaldi helps in curing hepatitis C in those who suffer from HIV. In a medical study, the combination of Gilead's Hep C drug with anti-viral drug Ribavirin cured 76% of HIV-positive patients suffering from the most common hepatitis C strain. Hepatitis C and related complications have been a top cause of death in HIV-positive patients. Typical medication used to treat the disease, including interferon proteins, tended to react badly with HIV drugs. However, Sovaldi's %1,000-a-pill price tag could limit the number of patients able to access the treatment. TheStreet's Keris Lahiff reports from New York. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com
$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

Newsy (July 20, 2014) Cynthia Robinson claims R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company hid the health and addiction risks of its products, leading to the death of her husband in 1996. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tooth Plaque Provides Insight Into Diets Of Ancient People

Tooth Plaque Provides Insight Into Diets Of Ancient People

Newsy (July 19, 2014) Research on plaque from ancient teeth shows that our prehistoric ancestor's had a detailed understanding of plants long before developing agriculture. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Contaminated Water Kills 3 Babies in South African Town

Contaminated Water Kills 3 Babies in South African Town

AFP (July 18, 2014) Contaminated water in South Africa's northwestern town of Bloemhof kills three babies and hospitalises over 500 people. The incident highlights growing fears over water safety in South Africa. Duration: 02:22 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins