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Indian researchers start working on genome sequencing of novel coronavirus

As the scientists across the world attempt to unravel the mysteries of the novel coronavirus, researchers in India are also trying to figure out all the different aspects of it.

Two institutes of Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad and Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), New Delhi have started working together on the whole genome sequencing of the novel coronavirus.

While there various types of coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2 which leads to the disease COVID-19 is a new virus, thus the name "novel coronavirus."

“This will help us to understand the evolution of the virus, how dynamic is it and how fast it imitates. This study will help us to know how fast it evolves and what are the future aspects of it” Dr Rakesh Mishra, Director, CCMB was quoted as saying by the Ministry of Science & Technology. 

Whole-genome sequencing is the method used to determine the complete DNA sequence of a specific organism’s genome. The approach for sequencing the latest coronavirus involves getting samples from patients who are found to be positive and sending these samples to a sequencing centre. Genome sequencing needs a very large number of samples for study. 

“Without much data if you make any conclusion that may not be right. At the moment we are accumulating as many sequencings as we can and once, we have few hundred sequencing with us then we will be able to make many inferences from many biological aspects of this virus” said Dr Mishra.

Three to four people from each institute are continuously working on the whole genome sequencing, the ministry said. 

In the next 3-4 weeks researchers would be able to get at least 200-300 isolates and this information would help them to make some further conclusion about the behaviour of this virus, it added. 

For the purpose of the research, National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune has also been requested to give the virus that has been isolated from different places. This will help scientists to cover the whole country to get a bigger and clearer picture. This will help the institutes to establish the family tree of the virus. 

Mishra said that based on this they can study from where the virus has come which strain has more similarity, the varied mutations and which strain is weak and what strain is strong. 

“This will give some strategic clues to understand it and to implement better isolation strategies” he added.