Tremendous opportunity in Antibiotic Microbial Resistance (AMR), the Microbiome, and Metagenomics
Studies have shown that humans have ~10x more bacterial cells in our bodies than we have human cells.
The sum of all genetic material in an environment is the Metagenome: The mix of microorganisms in any one site (such as the gut) is the Microbiome for that site; These bacterial mixtures have a major influence on a person’s health and illness.
Over 99% of microbial diversity sampled cannot be grown in a laboratory and thus they need to be sequenced just to identify them. In addition, without the ability to culture a microorganism, researchers cannot obtain enough DNA for a reference genome required for short-read DNA sequencing. Only long-read DNA sequencing can overcome this problem by allowing immediate reads of the complete genome within a complex new microbiome.
The next pandemic according to the former Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies is that “Antibiotics resistance could 'kill us before climate change does”. AMR causes 700,000 global deaths annually, potentially growing to 10m annually by 2050 (ref). This could represent $100 trillion estimated lost economic output. AMR is transmitted by genetic exchanges between microorganisms and can only be fully predicted by analysing whole genomes, including plasmids. Long-read sequencing will be vital to enable both ongoing surveillance to detect and track AMR and to better targeting of the few remaining effective antibiotics.
“Arguably the greatest risk to human health comes from antibiotic resistant bacteria. We live in a bacterial world where we will never be able to stay ahead of the mutation curve.”