Global genomic pathogen surveillance to inform vaccine strategies: a decade-long expedition in pneumococcal genomics.

Genome Medicine
Stephen D Bentley, Stephanie W Lo

Abstract

Vaccines are powerful agents in infectious disease prevention but often designed to protect against some strains that are most likely to spread and cause diseases. Most vaccines do not succeed in eradicating the pathogen and thus allow the potential emergence of vaccine evading strains. As with most evolutionary processes, being able to capture all variations across the entire genome gives us the best chance of monitoring and understanding the processes of vaccine evasion. Genomics is being widely adopted as the optimum approach for pathogen surveillance with the potential for early and precise identification of high-risk strains. Given sufficient longitudinal data, genomics also has the potential to forecast the emergence of such strains enabling immediate or pre-emptive intervention. In this review, we consider the strengths and challenges for pathogen genomic surveillance using the experience of the Global Pneumococcal Sequencing (GPS) project as an early example. We highlight the multifaceted nature of genome data and recent advances in genome-based tools to extract useful information relevant to inform vaccine strategies and treatment options. We conclude with future perspectives for genomic pathogen surveillance.

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