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Biotech, Genome Companies Partner on Microbe Outbreaks

E coli bacteria magnified (ARS/Wikimedia Commons)

E coli bacteria magnified (USDA Agricultural Research Service/Wikimedia Commons)

Life Technologies Corp. in Carlsbad, California and OpGen Inc. in Gaithersburg, Maryland have agreed to develop systems, technologies, and applications for the management and surveillance of microbial outbreaks in the public health and infectious disease markets. Life Technologies is a biotechnology company developing diagnostic systems, and OpGen provides genomic and DNA analysis systems and services.

The collaboration aims to offer public health officials and health care organizations access to technologies that better identify disease causing agents to effectively control and contain outbreaks. Life Technologies plans to apply its Ion Torrent sequencing devices along with OpGen’s whole genome mapping technology for food outbreak and infectious disease analysis.

OpGen says its whole genome mapping provides a fast and comprehensive analysis of microbial genomes which, when combined with sequencing data, can accurately detect key genetic elements associated with toxicity, virulence and, drug resistance.  Gregg Fergus, who heads the Ion Torrent division of Life Technologies says scientists in China and Germany have already “used Ion’s technology to decode the genome of the deadly German E. coli outbreak strain and rapidly identify its unique combination of toxins and virulence genes.”

As part of the collaboration, Life Technologies will join a public health consortium established earlier in May by OpGen to evaluate whole genome mapping and sequencing for confirmation and management of disease outbreaks. The consortium is made up of the Association of Public Health Laboratories, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the University of Maryland Institute for Genome Sciences, and 11 state public health laboratories in the U.S.

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