What do You Mean By Genomic Surveillance?

Genomic surveillance is the process of sequencing the DNA of pathogens and looking for changes that are related to the cause or symptoms of a disease.

In the age of genomics, when the cost and time it takes to sequence a genome have dropped by a lot, a new way to keep an eye on diseases is possible: the genome.

Genomic surveillance is based on the fact that everything with a genome (people, animals, plants, bacteria, viruses, etc.) needs to copy their genetic material in order to reproduce, which can cause changes called mutations.

Mutations occur in all organisms and can be studied, however their frequency and impact will differ depending on the species.

One key to our success in genomic surveillance is the dynamic character of the genome. Simply said, it's the practise of sequencing infectious organisms that cause disease in various people and then keeping an eye on any changes in their genetic makeup.

Even if you have the genome of a particular pathogen in your possession, the real power of surveillance comes from sequencing many different strains of the same virus, like SARS-CoV-2. This gives us a foundation upon which to begin constructing an image of a pathogen's changing and evolving behaviour.

In order to better educate those responsible for responding to an outbreak, genomic surveillance has been implemented.

When mutations become stable and start to propagate, this is when genomic surveillance becomes truly intriguing. When this occurs, a new variety can emerge that differs from the dominant form in some way.

It's possible that novel variants could be either more contagious or deadly, or less contagious or less lethal.

Scientists can learn more about how a novel variant affects patients than previous variants by identifying those having the variant in question. The effectiveness of this strategy during the covid-19 epidemic is undeniable.

How a pathogen spreads can be inferred from the rate and direction of mutations in its DNA. Understanding and preventing disease outbreaks may depend on this data. For instance:

It's likely that two genomes are linked if they share few, if any, differences. It's possible that everyone involved contracted the illness from the same source.

Genomes that differ significantly from one another are unlikely to have originated from the same parent. It's possible that several pathogen variants are circulating in a given area if people who contracted the disease did so in the same place but their infections had quite different genomes. Information of this nature has been crucial in recent Ebola outbreaks in Africa.

When trying to trace the origins of an outbreak, details like these can be important. How closely related sequencing samples are tells us whether the infectious agent was brought in once and disseminated, or whether it was introduced numerous times, in settings as diverse as a care facility and a whole country.