Md. Scientists Have Major Breakthrough In Fighting Diseases

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A group of Maryland scientists is responsible for a medical breakthrough.  It could revolutionize the way doctors treat deadly diseases, like E.coli.

Gigi Barnett has more.

Doctors called it one of the deadliest outbreaks of E.coli in history.  Over the summer, the bacteria killed dozens and sickened thousands across Europe.  What’s more, it was a new strain and resistant to most medicines doctors used.

Now, just a few weeks later, researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine have cracked the DNA code of the European E.coli strain with a new technology called sequencing analysis.

“It essentially opens the book on any organism.  Once the book is open, all you have to do is read it and figure out what to do,” said Dr. David Rasko.

This is how sequencing works.  All DNA is made up of only four links—also called basis—they can make up millions of combinations.  Maryland researchers were able to figure out the exact order of those links, and that shows them which medicine to use to wipe  it out.

“The order is key,” Rasko said.

While scientists are working on E.coli now, this research could one day open the door to cure human diseases like asthma and obesity.

The study was published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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