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Speedy Sharing of Viral Genomes

Researchers aim to more quickly share gene sequence data from the Ebola and MERS viruses, Reuters reports.

By making this data widely available in nearly real-time, researchers from the UK, Saudi Arabia, and West Africa hope to speed up work in diagnosing, treating, and preventing the diseases.

"With more genetic surveillance we can spot things that are potential areas of concern — such as [genetic] changes that might mean our diagnostics might not work so well any more or changes that suggest a virus is becoming able to transmit more easily," the Sanger Institute's Paul Kellam tells Reuters.

Saudi Arabia, Reuters notes, was criticized in the early days of the MERS outbreak for its slow response to international researchers wanting to examine the virus. Kellam says the kingdom is now committed to data sharing. His colleague Ian Goodfellow is also working with Sierra Leone officials to make Ebola virus data available.

Sequences for the viruses will be posted to