The ‘whole genome sequencing’ (WGS) method to diagnose pathogens: a vision for the future at Sciensano

Published on: 
Friday, March 29, 2019
Last updated on 2-5-2019 by Admin Drupal

Next generation sequencing (NGS) offers the significant advantage of greatly improving the routine surveillance of various microbial pathogens, such as tuberculosis. This advanced technology makes it possible to surpass the results obtained using conventional methods of analysis.

Sciensano applied the method of the whole genome sequencing to the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis. PDF icon The method and its validation process were published in Frontiers in Microbiology (Impact Factor of 4.076), the world’s third most cited journal for topics related to microbiology.

A complex method with multiple outlets

WGS is not a simple method, and it requires several essential steps for routine use. First, it is necessary to have the necessary resources. With this in mind, Sciensano has invested heavily in the laboratory equipment, the IT infrastructure and the expertise needed to manage, analyse and interpret the data flows generated by this advanced technology. Like other laboratories which are bound to respect a quality system, Sciensano has had to demonstrate that the method used is indeed in line with the “fit-for-purpose” objective and that it achieves the desired results, the latter being of the highest quality.

By focusing on the Neisseria meningitidis bacterium, Sciensano has opened the door to promising new research opportunities and, at the same time, has demonstrated its expertise in the method of the whole genome sequencing.

The benefits for public health

Sciensano is proud to have proven that its analytical and laboratory techniques, ahead of their time can be integrated  with success and can  be applied in the future to other types of bacteriological surveillance. The validation strategy developed by Sciensano has also proven very effective, both for data flows obtained internally and those in the public domain. This validation strategy also demonstrates that the generated bioinformatics flows can be integrated into a quality system, and that the whole genome sequencing method is an alternative to conventional methods of analysis, even for smaller laboratories.

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