At a time when the world is exploring ways to fight the coronavirus, scientists in Gujarat have made a major breakthrough in the war against the biological agent from China. Scientists at the Gujarat Biotechnology Research Centre (GBRC) have discovered the complete genome sequence of coronavirus. Chaitanya Joshi, the GBRC director, gave this information.
Joshi said that his team had taken genes of the virus from the body of many COVID patients in Gujarat. DNA tests of about 100 samples were carried out to get the genome sequence.
“The virus mutates in order to adapt to and survive in different situations. It mutates when medicines try to control it. This virus is mutating fast,” he said.
“After establishing the genome sequence from one sample, our studies are on. We have collected around 100 samples from patients in different parts of Gujarat. We will analyse the genome in them and after that formulate a strategy to fight the virus,” he said.
Joshi said that finding out the genome sequence will help in developing medicines and vaccines to fight the virus.
“We will first try out different compounds in lab test on virus. Once effective compounds are found, we can take it forward for trials,” he said.
“All living beings, be it humans, animals, plants or even viruses, their basic structure is found in the DNA or RNA. Many viruses have DNA or RNA (ribonucleic acid). This virus has RNA,” he said.
Genome sequence finding: Gujarat institute first or second?
The Chief Minister’s Office of Gujarat tweeted about this: “Gujarat is proud of scientists at Gujarat Biotechnology Research Centre (GBRC), the only State Govt laboratory in India that has reported COVID19 whole genome sequence which will be helpful in tracking origin, drug targets, vaccine & association with virulence.”
However, the Gandhinagar-based GBRC has become the second institute in India after the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune to decode the entire genome sequence of the virus.
“The Gujarat government-run GBRC has become the second institute after the Pune-based NIV to decode the entire genome sequence of Covid-19 virus. Many research institutes in the country are trying to do it,” Gujarat Principal Secretary (Health) Jayanti Ravi said.
“The first genome sequence of the COVID-19 virus was found by Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in Bejing on January 10. It was made public by China. After that, the GBRC has also done it here. It has found total nine mutations in its genome sequence,” she said.
“However, six of the mutations were already found by other research institutes around the world. Three mutations, out of the total nine found by the GBRC, are new and it will help in determining how the virus is changing in our conditions,” Ravi added.
The genome sequence will reveal hitherto unknown facts about the origin of the coronavirus, the preparation of the drug, the development of the vaccine, the target of the virus. It will also give clues as to how the virus can be eliminated. He said that there have been 9 changes in the coronavirus. This will make the coronavirus vaccine easier to find.