Researchers at the state government-run Gujarat Biotechnology Research Centre (GBRC) have succeeded in decoding the entire genome sequence of the novel coronavirus, and identified its three new mutations, officials said on Friday.
Talking to reporters, the officials expressed confidence that the findings will help in developing medicines or vaccines needed to stop the spread of the deadly virus, which has wreaked havoc across the globe.
With this, 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, they said.
“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,” state Principal Secretary (Health) Jayanti Ravi said.
She said the breakthrough is a matter of pride for Gujarat.
“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.
GBRC director Chaitanya Joshi said the virus mutates so as to survive in different conditions.
“We had taken the sample from a Covid-19 patient from here and worked on it,” he said.
“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.
The state government officials said that the genome sequence found out the GBRC will be shared with the scientific community.