It’s a given that certain bacteria and viruses can cause illness and disease, but the real culprits are the sequences of concern that lie within the genomes of these microbes.
Calling them out is about to get easier.
Years of work by Rice University computer scientists and their colleagues have led to an improved platform for DNA screening and pathogenic sequence characterization, whether naturally occurring or synthetic, before they have the chance to impact public health.
Computer scientist Todd Treangen of Rice’s George R. Brown School of Engineering and genomic specialist Krista Ternus of Signature Science LLC led the study that produced SeqScreen, a program to accurately characterize short DNA sequences, often called oligonucleotides.
Treangen said SeqScreen is intended to improve the detection and tracking of a wide range of pathogenic sequences.
“SeqScreen is the first open-source software toolkit that is available for synthetic DNA screening,” Treangen said. “Our program improves upon the previous state of the art for companies, individuals and government agencies for their DNA screening practices.”
The study, which began as high-risk, high-payoff research funded by the National Intelligence Agency’s IARPAprogram in 2017, appears in the journal Genome Biology.
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