China Tracks Down Europe's Killer E. Coli Bacteria
June 5, 2011 • 9:17AM

Various reports over the recent period have stressed how China is seriously entering the commercial biological world market. The success of Beijing Genomics Institute (whose main lab is actually in Shenzhen City near Hong Kong) in sequencing the DNA sequence of the E. coli bacteria that is responsible for the outbreak of enterohemorraghic E. coli. (ENEC), which has caused serious disease and deaths in Europe, confirm this.

Late June 2, the institute announced that the E. coli spreading through Europe was "a new strain of bacteria that is highly infectious and toxic." The researchers managed to fully sequence its genome in three days - becoming the first in the world to do so and lodge its full sequence on the Internet.

They also identified genes in the bacteria that gave it resistance to at least three major classes of antibiotics, which helped explain why doctors in Europe have had such a hard time fighting the bug. "We have done further analysis and see even more antibiotic-resistant and toxic genes. Our work is still ongoing," said team member Qin Junjie.

The institute later found genes in the bacteria that gave it resistance to eight classes of antibiotics. The newly identified 0104 strain of E. coli bacteria is resistant to major classes of antibiotics including sulfonamide, cephalothin, penicillin, and streptomycin. The researchers are developing a diagnostic kit to detect the bacteria and prevent the epidemic from spreading further.

BGI has more than 180 sequencing machines, giving it the biggest DNA sequencing capacity in the world, and a total workforce of over 4,000.