Thermo Fisher partners CDC to accelerate microbial identification

New software connects public health laboratories with MicrobeNet database to advance infectious disease surveillance

Thermo Fisher Scientific, through a partnership with the Special Bacteriology Reference Laboratory at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has developed software that enables global public health laboratories to directly access the CDC’s MicrobeNet online virtual reference lab database.

Researchers will now more quickly be able to identify microbial pathogens potentially at the root of global outbreaks without needing to refer to multiple databases by instead using one curated by experts in the field, said Thermo Fisher.

Thermo Fisher’s MicrobeBridge software is designed to seamlessly connect Sanger sequencing results to the MicrobeNet database. Currently, analysing sequencing data is fragmented over multiple software packages. MicrobeBridge enables researchers to access more easily the public health information stored in MicrobeNet and informs laboratory-based surveillance and the general understanding of disease outbreaks.

Thermo Fisher's Director of Public Health Dan Didier said: 'DNA-based microbial identification has become an invaluable tool for public health scientists to identify and track infectious disease outbreaks.

MicrobeBridge equips researchers with technology that helps them to respond more quickly to pathogens that threaten human health

'Yet data analysis has slowed the ability of public health laboratories to act swiftly. MicrobeBridge overcomes that hurdle and equips researchers with technology that helps them to respond more quickly to pathogens that threaten human health.'

MicrobeBridge integrates with all Applied Biosystems capillary electrophoresis instruments and automates the assembly and QC of raw Sanger sequencing data into a searchable format in the MicrobeNet database, thus minimising the effort required to match and positively identify specimens. The company also plans to develop compatible software for Thermo Fisher’s next-generation sequencing and mass spectrometry platforms.

John McQuiston, Team Lead, Special Bacteriology Reference Laboratory, Bacterial Special Pathogens Branch, Division of High-Consequence Pathogens and Pathology at the CDC, added: 'Expanding MicrobeNet will allow public health laboratories anywhere in the world to run sequence-based, phenotypic or eventually other tests and match results against a highly curated database comprised of our unique collection of pathogens.

'With the addition of MicrobeBridge, researchers and public health laboratories will now be able to easily acquire information on thousands of organisms curated by the pathogen subject matter experts at CDC.'

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