Genome Sequencing of SARS-CoV-2
Union Minister of Science and Technology has announced the successful completion of PAN-India 1000 Genome sequencing of SARS-CoV-2.
- Given the importance of this information for public health response initiatives requiring investigation into the transmission of COVID-19, the sequence data will soon be released in Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID) for use by researchers across the Globe.
- The information in the database will improve our understanding on how the virus is spreading, ultimately helping to interrupt the transmission chains, prevent new cases of infection, and provide impetus to research on intervention measures.
What does the data suggest?
- Initial results indicate that multiple lineages of SARS-CoV-2 are circulating in India, probably introduced by travel from Europe, USA and East Asia.
- In particular, there is a predominance of the A2a haplotype (20A/B/C) with D614G mutation, which is found to be emerging in almost all regions of the country. This particular haplotype is globally reported to be associated with enhanced transmission efficiency.
- Additionally, mutations in important regions of the viral genome with significant geographical clustering have also been observed.
- Detailed mutational analysis to understand the gradual emergence of mutants at different regions of the country and its possible impact on the disease management is in progress.
- GISAID is a public platform started by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2008 for countries to share genome sequences.
- The GISAID Initiative promotes the international sharing of all influenza virus sequences, related clinical and epidemiological data associated with human viruses, and geographical as well as species-specific data associated with avian and other animal viruses
- This helps researchers understand how the viruses evolve, spread and potentially become pandemics.
- It actively promotes the development of novel research tools for the analysis of influenza data by helping developers to facilitate the integration or connection of their tools to analyse GISAID data.
What is ‘Genome Sequencing’?
- A genome is a person’s complete set of deoxyribonucleic acids or DNA, including all genes with more than 3 billion DNA base pairs.
- Genome sequencing (in the case of virus) is figuring out the order of Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) nucleotides, or bases, in a genome—the order of Adenine, Cytosine, Guanines, and Thymine that make up an organism’s DNA.
- Genomics is an interdisciplinary field of science focusing on the structure, function, evolution, mapping, and editing of genomes.
- By sequencing the genome, researchers can discover the functions of genes and identify mutations responsible for cancer and rare genetic diseases.
Genome sequencing also leads to precision medication, instead of clinicians giving drugs based on collective knowledge.