Tuesday, March 1, 2011

ECBC Adds New Capability of Viral Sequencing

The U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center’s (ECBC) BioDefense Branch recently became one of the few organizations in the world able to genetically sequence threat viruses.

Using the Roche/454 Titanium platform, the team sequenced four viral genomes in February for the first time in ECBC’s history. Sequencing viral genomes is a significant step forward in ECBC’s virology research capabilities. 

“Our ability to sequence the genomes of viruses makes ECBC a member of a very exclusive club,” said Peter Emanuel, Ph.D., BioSciences division chief.

Emanuel attributed the successful sequencing in part to the newest members who form the core of ECBC’s virology capability: Sofi Ibrahim, Ph.D., Mohamed Ait Ichou, Ph.D., Iasha Hajjaj and Sarah Katoski.

“Many of the most dangerous threats we face today – including some emerging diseases such as H1N1 influenza – are viruses,” Emanuel said. “Because of the difficulty in handling and growing viruses, not many laboratories are equipped to contribute to our body of knowledge in this area.  By sequencing viruses, BioSciences can now provide vital information for the development of new therapeutics and new detection strategies to protect the warfighter and the homeland.”

Photo caption: ECBC Research Biologist Nicole Rosenzweig, Ph.D., demonstrates the Roche/454 Titanium sequencing platform.

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