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Towards Better Evaluation of Pneumococcal Vaccines

Public Library of Science
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PLME0202_083-110.indd PLoS Medicine | 0084 Synopses of Research Articles Open access, freely available online February 2005 | Volume 2 | Issue 2 | e54 | e52 To quickly control infectious disease outbreaks, extensive information is required to identify the source and transmission routes, and to evaluate the effect of containment policies. Traditionally, scientists have used travel- and contact-tracing methods, but the recent SARS epidemic showed that sequence- based techniques for pathogen detection can also be important tools to help understand outbreaks. Jianjun Liu and colleagues adapted mass spectrometry (MS)–based genotyping, already used as a high-throughput way of detecting single nucleotide polymorphisms in human DNA, to the analysis of the SARS virus from clinical samples. The major breakthroughs against SARS were the discovery of the SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV) as the etiological agent and the sequencing of the SARS genome. Liu’s colleagues at the Genome Institute of Singapore had previously shown that common genetic variants in the SARS-CoV genome could be used as molecular fi ngerprints to help trace the route of infection. However, as “sequence analysis of large numbers of clinical samples is challenging, cumbersome, and expensive,” they felt that “what is needed is a rapid, sensitive, high throughput, and cost-effective screening method.” Towards this goal, Liu and colleagues now demonstrate that an MS-based technique can quickly yield accurate information on clinical isolates (in this case from the 2003 SARS outbreak in Singapore). The scientists demonstrate the sensitivity of the assay in detecting SARS-CoV variations and test it further in cultured viral Mass Spectometry–Based SARS Genotyping DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.0020052 Of the 40 million people worldwide with HIV, 30 million live in the developing world. By far the worst hit region is sub- Saharan Africa, where nearly four million children hav

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