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Comparison is First-Ever of Two Complete Sequences

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WALTHAM, Mass.--Genome Therapeutics and Astra announced last month that researchers here and at the Astra Research Center in Boston have succeeded in the first-ever comparison of two complete genomic sequences of a single bacterium, Helicobacter pylori.

"This first-ever comparison of two unrelated strains of a single bacterium represents a major advance in applying genomic tools to drug discovery and underscores the ongoing success of our collaboration with Astra," said Robert Hennessey, chairman, president, and CEO of Genome Therapeutics.

The genomic comparison, published in the January 14 issue of Nature, provides new insights into variance in H. pylori's genetic structure, simplifying the designation of targets for new drugs and vaccines. In the study, researchers conducted the first comparison of the complete genomes of two virulent strains of H. pylori, one from a patient with gastritis and another from a patient with a duodenal ulcer, which allowed them to analyze the amount and location of variance in the genomes.

Richard Alm, a research scientist at Astra Research Center Boston and lead author on the paper, said, "By comparing the genomic sequences for two strains of this pathogen, we have created a new framework for more fully understanding the biology of H. pylori. This framework is enhancing our ability to analyze and interpret the factors that affect infection and the disease process and is focusing our search for novel drug targets to develop drugs and vaccines to treat and prevent H. pylori infections."

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