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Image of the Week: Sequencing Ebola genomes

22 Apr, 2015


Our image – or in this case video – of the week is a time-lapse video of Professor Ian Goodfellow installing viral genome sequencer machines in Sierra Leone.

Professor Goodfellow and his colleagues from Cambridge University are working towards sequencing the viral genomes from infected Ebola patients. By making this sequence data available worldwide, and in real time, they are hoping that scientists will carry out research leading to new diagnostics, treatment and preventative strategies for Ebola.

As the time-lapse shows, the team are currently in Sierra Leone establishing high-throughput sequencing capability in one of the Ebola treatment centres. Once established, they hope to collect samples from infected patients, sequence them within a matter of hours and process the raw data to make the viral genome sequences available within a few weeks. This process could take months if the samples were to be brought back to the UK for analysis.

The team are working with the Sierra Leonean government to make genome data on the Ebola virus available as soon as possible on the website

Sequencing the genome of a virus can tell us a lot about how it is spreading and changing as it passes from person to person. This information is invaluable to researchers, but the rapid sharing of data does not always occur. Often, data is not made available to the wider scientific community until researchers publish it in a peer-reviewed scientific journal – a process that can take several months.

Credit: Professor Ian Goodfellow

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