With the cost of DNA sequencing continuing to decline, researchers are looking to find new ways to use the technology. Some hope to use it as a way to test infectious pathogens in a community as an early-warning system for disease outbreak, reports Technology Review's Emily Singer. The researchers at Pacific Biosciences have started a project called the Disease Weather Map, which monitors viruses from locations like sewage stations, toilet handles, and people's mouths, Singer says, and the idea is to measure pathogen flux over time. Public health agencies already use similar systems to detect outbreaks, though they mostly rely on doctors' reports on patients. This system will rely more on the environment, Singer adds, which could give warning signs before people start to get sick. The researchers could also track the emergence of new pathogen variants.
Early-Warning DNA Sequencing System
Sep 21, 2010