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Genome Therapeutics Will Add S. epidermidis Sequence to Database

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WALTHAM, Mass.--Genomics company Genome Therapeutics here has produced a high-resolution sequence of the genome of the Staphylococcus epidermis bacterium and will add it to the company's proprietary PathoGenome database of medically important microbes and fungi. The new sequence should facilitate the development of new antibiotics, according to the company.

"Similar to strains of Staphylococcus aureus, which have recently shown resistance to all current antibiotics, increasingly larger proportions of clinical isolates of S. epidermidis are now resistant to the mainstays of antibiotic therapy," noted Barry Eisenstein, vice-president of science and technology for Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and a scientific advisor to Genome Therapeutics. "The S. epidermidis sequence will be extremely valuable in uncovering novel targets for drug activity, allowing development of new classes of antibiotics to combat serious drug resistance," he explained.

"As the first commercially available high-resolution sequence of S. epidermidis, this is a tremendous scientific accomplishment and it will be an extremely useful component of our microbial sequence database, PathoGenome," added Robert Hennessey, the company's chairman, president, and CEO. Hennessey noted that two years ago, Genome Therapeutics sequenced S. aureus and formed an exclusive alliance with Schering Plough to develop antibiotics based on the information. Genome Therapeutics has now filed patents on the S. epidemidis sequence and retains commercial rights to it.

"Based on the high quality of raw sequence data, in combination with our proprietary bioinformatics capabilities in high-resolution finishing, the 2.5-megabase genome of S. epidermidis was as sembled into less than 50 contigs," noted Bernd Seizinger, Genome Therapeutics' executive vice-president and chief scientific officer. "This detail is a distinguishing feature of the PathoGenome database, which we believe will allow for a rapid translation of genetic information into new drug discovery target identification."

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