Italy’s Coronavirus Version is a Slow-Mutating-Pathogen
Independent research teams in Italy announced they have sequenced multiple samples and identified the presence of gene variants when compared against the original coronavirus reference genome from China in January 2020.
These teams announced on March 25, 2020, the low number of variants discovered in the Italian samples suggests that the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is a relatively slow-mutating pathogen.
‘Our initial data show that this is a very stable RNA virus, with only five novel variants,’ said these researchers.
This is an important discovery since viruses that mutate rapidly over short periods of time make it challenging to develop vaccines that protect people against future infections.
The findings, developed using a new next-generation sequencing (NGS) research assay from Thermo Fisher Scientific, increase the likelihood that future coronavirus vaccines can have a higher rate of effectiveness and could help the global scientific community's effort to better understand the epidemiology and spread of COVID-19.
The two independent research teams from "Lazzaro Spallanzani" National Institute for Infectious Diseases (IRCCS) in Rome and the Forensic Division of the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Public Health (DSBSP) at Ancona University Hospital sequenced multiple samples and identified the presence of gene variants when compared against the original Wuhan coronavirus reference genome.
"The ability to very quickly run multiple samples and accurately decipher key changes in the virus's genetic code will be crucial for the global scientific community to stay ahead of SARS-CoV-2 and to develop strategies against it that, ultimately, can be leveraged to help resolve the pandemic," said Dr. Maria Rosaria Capobianchi, the head of the Virology Department, Lazzaro Spallanzani National Institute for Infectious Diseases, which was the first research center in Europe to generate whole-genome sequencing data of the coronavirus on Thermo Fisher's Ion Torrent NGS platform.
"Viral genomes are dynamic and these preliminary data need further analysis to determine the biological significance of the gene variants and to investigate the evolutionary path of the coronavirus,” concluded Dr. Capobianchi in a press release.
Professor Stefano Menzo, head of Virology at Ancona University Hospital, said: "Had we investigated other viruses we might have expected up to dozens of new mutations after so many infectious cycles in patients.”
“A virus with a stable genome is good news for vaccine development because it indicates that the effectiveness of vaccines could be more consistent, possibly over many years."
To further expedite NGS analysis of SARS-CoV-2 and to help meet growing customer demand, Thermo Fisher has begun to optimize the Ion AmpliSeq SARS-COV-2 Research Panel for the Ion Torrent Genexus System.
Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. is the world leader in serving science.
SARS-CoV-2 Epidemiology news published by Coronavirus Today.