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Tuesday, March 2nd, 2021

ECBC researchers develop open source website for pathogen detection

A team at the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC) has developed a means for Department of Defense (DoD) labs across the globe to quickly obtain a genomic analysis of unknown and potentially hazardous biological samples without incurring the cost and risk of shipping them to a robust stateside lab.

Genomics is a study within genetics that revolves around the sequencing and analysis of the complete set of DNA within a single cell of an organism. ECBC partnered with the United States Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) and the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) to make genomic analysis more accessible by developing the open-source website pathosphere.org.

The website’s development removes the need for shipment and on-site analytical support while also providing customized analysis on genomic datasets. Pathosphere has been deployed as a freely-available resource and is used in DoD labs.

“Pathogen detection within complex samples is a computationally expensive process, and doing it on-site requires servers, IT support, and software engineers,” Andy Kilianski, a research team member at ECBC, said. “We are bringing that infrastructure to anyone who wants to do remote data analysis. And now we’ve made it publicly available.”