Research

Computational Methods Reveal How Hospital-Acquired Bacteria Spread

Scientists at the Academy of Finland's Centre of Excellence in Computational Inference Research have developed novel computational methods that have yielded essential knowledge of how hospital-acquired bacteria spread and develop. These new methods, based on randomised algorithms, make it possible to analyse extensive genomic data significantly faster and more efficiently than previously. By applying these results, it is possible to better follow hospital-acquired infections in the future, or even fight them in real time.

The new methods are used to develop models of the evolution of bacteria and viruses. "Essential for the evolution of the bacteria that cause hospital-acquired infections is the horizontal gene transfer. It means that several different cell processes transfer genes between the lineages of the same and different species so that the bacterium becomes resistant to antibiotics and the virulence factor rapidly spreads in the population," explains group leader, Professor Jukka Corander. Corander's group is part of the Centre of Excellence in Computational Inference Research.

This so-called recombination of bacteria makes it much more complicated to carry out evolution analyses. To facilitate such analyses, Corander's group in cooperation with researchers from Harvard University and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute has developed a number of methods based on smart randomised algorithms. These methods facilitate efficient and reliable analyses of extensive genomic data. With the current, most commonly used computational methods this work would take several months or even several years.

Two of the group's methods have recently been applied by an international study. This study demonstrated that more than half of the genetic variation of the MRSA bacteria (i.e. methicillin-resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus) is caused by horizontal genomic transfer. This shows that the evolutionary analyses of the strains of bacteria are necessary when investigating the spread of bacteria in a host population. This horizontal variation significantly distorts the results received from normal evolutionary analyses.

"On the basis of the results from these analyses, i.e. the evolutionary variation, we're able to estimate when a certain strain of the MRSA bacterium has entered a country and started to spread to hospitals. This is the first time we have been able to prove that the interplay between the horizontal genomic variation and the mutational genomic variation may vary significantly across geographical locations and even between individual hospitals," Corander says. According to Corander, these insights open up new opportunities for in-depth studies on the spread and variation of MRSA and related causalities.

In another recently published study, Corander's group investigated the origin and evolution of the Enterococcus faecium bacterium that has adapted to survive in hospital environments. By using its analysis methods, the group found out that the forms of the bacteria originate from several independent sources, which is contrary to previous knowledge. In the nuclear genome of hospital strains of E. faecium, fewer signs of horizontal transfer were found than expected. This discovery led to a hypothesis that strains of bacteria that have adapted to survive in hospital environments may become either genetically or ecologically more isolated after horizontal transfer.

MRSA is a globally spread bacterium that is especially troublesome in hospitals. It is resistant to most antibiotics and annually causes the death of tens of thousands of people in the US, for instance. According to cautious estimates, the annual costs incurred by MRSA infections amount to several billion US dollars. In recent years, the E. faecium bacterium has become one of the major causes of hospital-acquired infections and its antibiotic-resistant strains have caused severe hospital epidemics worldwide.

Santiago Castillo-Ramirez, Jukka Corander, Pekka Marttinen, Mona Aldeljawi, William P Hanage, Henrik Westh, Kit Boye, Zeynep Gulay, Stephen D Bentley, Julian Parkhill, Matthew T Holden and Edward J Feil
Phylogeographic variation in recombination rates within a global clone of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) Genome Biology, 13:R126 doi:10.1186/gb-2012-13-12-r126.

Rob J. L. Willems, Janetta Top, Willem van Schaik, Helen Leavis, Marc Bonten, Jukka Sirén, William P Hanage and Jukka Corander
Restricted gene flow among hospital subpopulations of Enterococcus faecium. mBio, 3, e00151-12.

Most Popular Now

Smartphones and Wearable Devices co…

RADAR-CNS (Remote assessment of disease and relapse - Central Nervous System), a major new research programme supported by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) start...

Read more

Patientrack Recognised as One of 'T…

UK healthcare technology company Patientrack has been recognised as providing one of the best eHealth solutions anywhere in Europe, in an EU competition focussed on healt...

Read more

Merck in Agreement with HAPPYneuron…

Merck, a leading science and technology company, announced today that the company has entered into an agreement with HAPPYneuron, a subsidiary of SBT Group of France, in ...

Read more

Future Health Index 2016

Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA) today launched the results of the first edition of its Future Health Index (FHI), an extensive international study which explores how...

Read more

Mobile Technology: Is the NHS Closi…

Opinion Article by Steve Carvell, head of healthcare at CommonTime. Technology skills are in higher demand than ever. Look across any vertical and developers who can cre...

Read more

New Digital Centre to Help Improve …

A new centre for digital innovation which could transform the way mental health care is provided will be launched today. The Centre for Translational Informatics (CTI) is...

Read more

Tech Tour Healthtech Summit 2016

21 - 22 June 2016, Lausanne, Switzerland. The 2016 Healthtech Summit is the leading independent European event for investment in Digital Health and Medtech. The summit a...

Read more

eHealth Innovation Days Conference

8 - 9 September 2016, Flensburg, Germany. The first eHealth Innovation Days Conference at Flensburg University of Applied Sciences will offer a platform for networking, ...

Read more

Smart Sensors and Innovation Are th…

Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG; AEX: PHIA) has announced the Philips Sonicare FlexCare Platinum Connected, its latest innovation that uses Smart Sensor technology to help consu...

Read more

2016 Biomax Symposium: Bringing Big…

24 June 2016, Martinsried, Germany. Biomax announces the 2016 Biomax Symposium on "Bringing Big and Complex Data into Clinical Practice" that will take place in Martinsr...

Read more

The Social Life of Health Informati…

Most Americans go online for information and support about health-related issues. But what exactly are they looking for? Researchers at the University of California, Rive...

Read more

Startupbootcamp Digital Health Berl…

Startupbootcamp Digital Health Berlin, a business accelerator for early stage startups, announces a new partnership with Philips today. As a part of this partnership, f...

Read more

Digest Newsletter

Subscribe to our weekly Newsletter and stay updated on the latest eHealth News. Subscribe now, it's free!
© eHealthNews.eu 2006 - 2016