Impact for patients

One Minute Insight

Professor Gordon Dougan talks about the of resistance to antibiotics and how our researchers are are looking at the DNA of different bacteria’s.

Case Study

Using whole genome sequencing to fight common bugs

Outbreaks of infections of any type within hospitals and communities can put a strain on healthcare services particularly in winter time. This is particularly true if the bugs are resistant to treatment.

Cambridge researchers wanted to investigate how these ‘resistant’ bacteria could be identified faster, so that outbreaks can be reduced and treatments can be given sooner to patients who may be diagnosed with an infection. 

Researchers looked at using whole genome sequencing or WGS (a complete set of all the genes of the bacteria including those causing resistance) and examined whether this technique would be an effective mechanism to detect these infectious threats as well as understand their biology and how they are spreading.

Researchers found they were able to identify the bacteria and their resistance patterns (e.g. which antibiotics work and which do not) directly from clinical samples taken from patients, using information gleaned from WGS. They noticed that using WGS gave more accurate information about the microbes and that it provided much better and much more detailed information than normal laboratory methods.

Researchers are continuing to look at ways of improving how these technologies can prevent the spread of infections and improve treatment selection.