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Wellcome Trust - Cambridge Centre for Global Health Research


The Global Pneumococcal Sequencing Project

Pneumococcal disease is both treatable, through administration of antibiotics, and preventable, by vaccination, but both of these strategies are compromised by the extraordinary adaptability of this genetically diverse pathogen. The frequency of detection of multidrug resistant pneumococci has steadily increased since the 1970’s, but it is notable that resistant isolates tend to be members of a small number of genotypic lineages, some of which have been seen to spread around the globe.

The recent deployment of conjugate pneumococcal vaccines (PCV) targeting the bacterial capsular polysaccharides of the lineages most associated with disease has led to vaccine evasion due to the processes of serotype replacement and capsular switching made possible by the enormous existing pneumococcal strain diversity.

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It is a well established reality that acquisition of antibiotic resistance occurs in most pathogen species, but the mechanisms by which these adaptations are occuring is only partially understood and the extent to which different mechanisms contribute to changes in the population have barely been sampled.

This is a worldwide genomic survey of the impact of vaccination on the pathogen population and is led at the Sanger Institute by Stephen Bentley. 

Stephen's expertise is in the genomics of bacterial pathogenesis with a particular focus on pneumonia and meningitis. Stephen’s work is greatly empowered by strong collaborative links with clinicians and scientist worldwide, many based in countries where infectious disease burden is high.



Evolution of MRSA during hospital transmission and intercontinental spread. Harris SRFeil EJHolden MTQuail MANickerson EK et al. Science (New York, N.Y.) 2010;327;5964;469-74 PUBMED: 20093474; PMC: 2821690; DOI: 10.1126/science.1182395

Rapid pneumococcal evolution in response to clinical interventions. Croucher NJHarris SRFraser CQuail MABurton J et al. Science (New York, N.Y.) 2011;331;6016;430-4 PUBMED: 21273480; PMC: 3648787; DOI: 10.1126/science.1198545

Dense genomic sampling identifies highways of pneumococcal recombination. Chewapreecha CHarris SRCroucher NJTurner CMarttinen P et al. Nature genetics 2014;46;3;305-309 PUBMED: 24509479; PMC: 3970364; DOI: 10.1038/ng.2895

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The Global Pneumococcal Sequencing Project


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The Centre supports collaborative partnerships and scientific training activities in basic biomedical and health-related research. This is achieved through coordinated cross-faculty research across departments and research institutes in Cambridge including The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute

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