Increasingly, genomics is being used to answer detailed clinical questions. Although genome analysis of bacterial sexually transmitted infections (STIs) lags far behind that of many other bacterial pathogens, genomics can reveal previously inaccessible aspects of pathogen biology.
Comparative genomic studies on the most common bacterial STI, chlamydia, have revolutionized our understanding of this intracellular bacterium, demonstrating that it undergoes extensive recombination and that the traditional typing schemes can be misleading. Genome projects can also help us to understand the recently observed phenomenon of ‘diagnostic escape’ seen in both Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae.
The routine use of genomics in clinical settings is becoming a reality. For STIs, a primary requirement is an understanding of the diversity of circulating strains and how they change over time. This can help to inform future studies and allow us to address real clinical issues such as outbreak identification, global spread of successful clones and antimicrobial resistance monitoring.
Pathogen Genomics, The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Hinxton, Cambridge, UK
Correspondence to Nicholas R. Thomson, Pathogen Genomics, The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Wellcome Trust Genome Campus, Hinxton, Cambridge, UK. Tel: +44 1223 494740; fax: +44 1223 494919; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org