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Bacterial genome sequencing offers latest tool against diseases

from The New York Times

In a recent review, Dr. David A. Relman, a professor of medicine, microbiology and immunology at Stanford, wrote that researchers had published 1,554 complete bacterial genome sequences and were working on 4,800 more. They have sequences of 2,675 virus species, and within those species they have sequences for tens of thousands of strains. With rapid genome sequencing, "we are able to look at the master blueprint of a microbe," Relman said in a telephone interview. It is "like being given the operating manual for your car after you have been trying to trouble-shoot a problem with it for some time." Relman also is examining the vast sea of micro-organisms that live peacefully on and in the human body. He finds, for example, that the bacteria in saliva are different from those on teeth and that the bacteria on one tooth are different from those on adjacent teeth. Those mouth bacteria, researchers say, hold clues to tooth decay and gum disease, two of the most common human infections. more


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