Donald Morrison, UIC professor of biological sciences and a specialist in the study of pneumococcus, is a co-author who acted as an expert consultant in the sequencing work. The sequencing was performed by the Rockville, Md.-based Institute for Genomic Research.
The strain is a clinical isolate of the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae, or pneumococcus, taken from the blood of a 30-year-old Norwegian male. Researchers describe the strain as highly invasive and virulent in a mouse model of infection.
Pneumococcus is the most common cause of acute respiratory and ear infections. Researchers estimate that over 3 million children die every year worldwide from pneumococcus-triggered pneumonia, bacteremia or meningitis.
In the United States, penicillin is the most commonly used antibiotic in keeping pneumococcus under control. But Morrison warned of the bacteriums ability to breed resistance to penicillin and other antibiotics.
Pneumococcus is carried by one-third or more of the population, said Morrison. We are relying mainly on penicillin to control it, but its becoming more and more resistant. So we are in a race to discover better ways to treat it before it discovers better ways to get around current treatments.
With newer technologies and sophisticated genetic sequencing techniques playing a big role, Morrison said the complete sequencing of this genome might help researchers win that race.
In the past, biology students would spend years writing Ph.D. dissertations on sequences of single genes within pneumococcus. Now theres a complete mo
Contact: Paul Francuch
University of Illinois at Chicago