September 20, 2012

FDA awards contract for technology to speed identification of pathogens on produce

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has awarded Illumina, Inc. of San Diego, Calif., a five-year $17 million contract to develop technology that will provide faster identification of pathogens on produce.

Illumina will provide its MiSeq sequencing systems and reagents for conducting whole genome analysis on produce and produce-related environmental salmonella and shigatoxigenic E. coli isolates. FDA currently employs several MiSeq systems  and is building its capacity to provide resources and training to enhance whole genome sequencing capabilities, according to an Illumina press release. More immediately, FDA is looking to collect data that is crucial to source tracking salmonella in future produce-related outbreaks.

Sequencing provides accurate subtyping and cluster analysis for investigating foodborne outbreaks and traceback to the food or environmental source. However, conventional molecular typing tools lack the resolution for differentiating tightly linked bacterial isolates and provide limited genetic differentiation of certain strains, such as salmonella, according to the company.

“MiSeq is ideally suited for screening bacterial pathogens due in part to its speed, simple workflow, high resolution and accuracy, which enhance the ability to identify closely related bacterial isolates,” Illumina states.

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