When all fails, try a new attack. That's exactly what researchers do when they use genome sequence data to develop vaccine candidates against the most difficult pathogenic adversaries. Recent efforts are revealing previously unknown microbial genes that may encode proteins important in triggering immunity. "Whole-genome data provides insight into all the features of [organisms] including access to virtually every single antigen that may provoke an immune response," explains Michael Gottlieb, parasitology and international programs branch, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

Since completion of the first microbe sequencing project, Haemophilus influenzae, in July 1995, academia, government, and the private sector have been sequencing entire genomes of pathogenic microbes in hopes of unraveling their secrets. Publications include the complete genetic sequences of more than 13 pathogens, and at least another 60 projects targeting medically important pathogens are in progess.1

Last month a group gave credence to...

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