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FDA Seeks PacBio Sequencer for Rapid Pathogen ID

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This story was originally published Jan. 20.

The Food and Drug Administration seeks to purchase a Pacific Biosciences sequencer to develop new methods for rapid pathogen identification, according to a request for information published on the Federal Business Opportunities website earlier this month.

According to the document, released Jan. 7, the FDA "anticipates the need for a Pacific Biosciences genomic sequencer and accessories (or equivalent) for developing novel tools to reduce the time necessary to effectively identify/serotype/subtype critical foodborne pathogens."

The instrument must be able to deliver at least 20 genomes with 20-fold coverage per day, according to the agency. Companies able to deliver a PacBio instrument had to respond to the request by Jan. 12.

PacBio has recently been emphasizing the ability of its instrument to sequence and analyze the genomes of human pathogens with unprecedented speed.

Last month, the company published a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine in which its scientists, in collaboration with researchers at Harvard Medical School, sequenced and analyzed the Haitian cholera strain within two weeks (IS 12/14/2011).

Also, PacBio scientists have constructed "disease weather maps" — for example at two sewage substations in San Francisco, and at its own headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. — analyzing human pathogenic viruses and how their distribution changes over time (IS 11/16/2010).

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