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UPDATE: Sequencing Data from Ebola Virus Released

The story has been corrected to clarify that the dataset is the first from the research group, but not the first from the ongoing Ebola epidemic.

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Researchers from a group of UK organizations have released their first sequencing dataset containing information about the genetic structure of the Ebola virus that has ravaged West Africa has been released, Thermo Fisher Scientific said today. 

The dataset is available on virological.org for use by the scientific community to monitor the evolution of the pathogen in real time and to conduct studies that may lead to more effective strategies against future outbreaks. 

The sequencing was done using Thermo Fisher's Ion AmpliSeq Ebola Panel for the Ion PGM and Ion Chef next-generation sequencing platforms. Paul Kellam, a professor of the Virus Genomics laboratory at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, led the team that mapped the genomic data generated by Ian Goodfellow, the head of virology at the University of Cambridge, and his colleagues. 

"Sequencing the genome of a virus can tell us a lot about how it spreads and changes as it passes from person to person," Kellam said in a statement, adding that the rapid sharing of such data has proven challenging. Processing the data also used to be a months-long task. 

"Having sequencing capabilities on the ground helps generate data in a matter of days or at the longest weeks, which should have a profound impact on how the Ebola virus is researched and inevitably addressed on a global scale," he said. 

The Thermo Fisher NGS technology has been installed at the laboratory adjacent to the Ebola Treatment Centre in Makeni, Sierra Leone, which is funded by the UK's Department for International Development and run by Public Health England. The system is also expected to be installed at the University of Makeni to ensure that the project will have benefits beyond the current Ebola crisis, which has killed almost 11,000 people inWest Africa, Thermo Fisher said. 

There, the technology would be used to further study Ebola and other pathogens that affect the region. 

"This important and timely effort to better understand Ebola's evolution at the molecular level would not have been possible without the active participation and support from each organization involved," Thermo Fisher's President of Genetic Sciences Chris Linthwaite said. "The valuable sequencing data now being shared globally will be critical to help researchers stay ahead of the virus." 

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