H1N1: fastest freaking science ever (plus a bit about sequencing all the poo in the world)

I actually mentioned this video earlier, but you know, I don't think I did the pitch justice.


Basically a TEDx talk by Jennifer Gardy, who outlines just how freaking fast that H1N1 information has been obtained. And all because of the open source and open access nature of the research work.

For example, when SARS hit the fan in 2003, it took 19 days for its genome to be sequenced. This year with the H1N1 swine flu, in that same 19 day timeframe, over 100 viral genomes had been sequenced, analysis had been done (and published) that worked out the origin and timeframe of the virus, and already a vaccine seed strain had been worked out. And all because of things like data sharing on wikis.

The talk also mentioned a cool concept, that Jennifer called Sewa-genomics, or the sequencing of all DNA in our sewage. I guess the premise is that since sequencing is so freaking quick and cheap these days (and getting quicker and cheaper all the time), sequencing all the city's poo may be a great way to survey pathogen threats, and most importantly, know about them when they first rear their ugly heads - before they get a little out of control.

Sewa-genomics: has a nice ring to it, and it does sound like an elegant (if somewhat unsavoury) idea.

You can also leave comments here, where Jennifer is more likely to see them.

More like this

Fast is good, but not always perfect. There were some bunk PCR primers out there, initially.