Life Technologies sets up international influenza network

Life Technologies, a Carlsbad, California-based global biotechnology tools company, recently announced the establishment of the Global Influenza Network, a partnership including scientists from government public health organizations, veterinary agencies and research institutes.

The goal of the GIN is to increase the efficiency and speed of influenza monitoring and vaccine development through the sharing of tools, experience and data using the company's Ion Personal Genome Machine semiconductor sequencing platform, GenEng News reports.

"Life Technologies exhibited leadership in infectious disease tracking when our scientists worked alongside federal officials to identify the cause of H1N1 outbreak in 2008," Greg Lucier, the chairman and CEO of Life Technologies, said, according to GenEng News. "We are very proud to now bring together a group of such distinguished organizations to tackle the continued threat of influenza worldwide."

Public health agencies annually collect samples from infected individuals and share flu data, which the World Health Organization uses to design a vaccine against that year's epidemic. By using next-generation sequencing technology, scientists can use more data and spend less money to research circulating strains.

"Using next-generation sequencing technology makes whole influenza genome sequencing much easier, and much less expensive than older sequencing techniques, when used appropriately," Steve Glavas, the head of the NGS Platform, said, according to GenEng News.

Researchers with the GIN may also be able to detect emerging strains earlier and have better focus on areas of the world where the strains are the most prevalent.

"Now we can easily fully characterize influenza-causing severe outbreaks," Mia Brytting, the head of the microbial typing unit at the Swedish Institute for Communicable Disease Control, said, according to GenEng News.