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Genome sequencing started to track covid-19 spread

Scientists in the country have started genome sequencing strains of the novel coronavirus isolated from patients in different parts of the country to track its spread and look for signs of emerging mutations. New Delhi’s National Centre for Disease Control, the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad, and the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), New Delhi are working together on this project.

“It is an RNA (ribonucleic acid) virus, whose genome consists of 30,000 base pairs (letters). Our focus is to identify which genetic variants in the virus are linked to its virulence and evolution. This could help us understand if the virus strain we have in India is unique or is similar to other global strains,” explains Rajesh Pandey, a member of the research team at IGIB.

The IGIB team is also working on a sample to sequence strategy, which could be used as another diagnostic tool to test samples with the help of next-generation sequencing. This endeavour would also help draw up strategies for designing potential treatments for local populations, vaccines and drugs that might have to undergo changes if the coronavirus evolves over time.