QAU researchers identify critical changes in COVID-19 

Islamabad   –   The Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) researchers have identified critical changes in multiple co-circulating novel coronavirus (COVID-19), a statement said on Thursday.

A recently published research in a prestigious journal “Genes and Immunity” by “NATURE” has identified critical changes in coronavirus during its local transmissions in different countries including Pakistan. These specific changes have improved the ability of coronavirus to inhibit the human immune system, as a result, it spreads very fast to the lower respiratory tract of humans and causes severe respiratory syndrome.

Dr. Amir Ali Abbasi, Professor and Chairperson at the National Center for Bioinformatics, Quaid-i-Azam University, who co-led the research in collaboration with their partners from China and the USA, said their recently published scientific work can assist in designing small-molecule inhibitors that perturb specific functions of coronavirus in the suppression of host immunity, which may help to reduce disease burden and assist recovery of patients.”

The research team of Dr. Amir screened the genomes of more than 160 viruses from 40 countries around the world. Their results also add to a growing body of evidence that coronaviruses share a common ancestor from late 2019, suggesting this was when the virus jumped from a previous animal host into humans. Dr. Amir Ali Abbasi said Pakistan is currently facing the second and most deadly outbreak of the COVID-19, so it’s an urgent need to generate and analyse large scale genetic data of COVID-19 causing coronavirus in Pakistan. Such genetic information can be used in combination with epidemiological data, to inform public health decision-making in Pakistan and to prevent further spread of coronavirus.

“Monitoring of the genetic diversity of the virus in Pakistan is essential for identification of possible local transmission chains to predict the spread of the virus. This information will help in implementing effective border measures against this virus,” said Dr. Abbasi. 

 

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