Brazilian scientists complete coronavirus DNA sequencing

The virus that came to Brazil was found to have undergone mutations

Published in 02/03/2020 - 11:31 By Daniel Mello - São Paulo

A group of Brazilian scientists carried out the first genetic sequencing of the coronavirus in Latin America in no more than 48 hours. The enterprise was conducted by the Adolfo Lutz Insitute, in partnership with the Tropical Medicine Institute of the Medical School of the São Paulo University (USP) and the Oxford University, in the UK.

Similar efforts have been made around the world and have taken around 15 days for the virus sequence to be fully mapped. The Brazilian researchers were able to make the data available 48 hours after the confirmation of the first case of coronavirus in the country.

To carry out the research, scientists used a portable device launched by British startup Oxford Nanopre Technologies. The implement is smaller than a cellphone and is connected to a computer through USB. The virus’s structure is decoded and translated by a computer program.

Different virus

Teste de laboratório mostra resultado positivo para novo coronavírus Covid-19
Preliminary studies show that the virus identified in Brazil is different from the one observed in Wuhan, China—the epicenter of the disease—by three mutations - Reuters©

Mapping the virus’s genome is key to making the development of screening tests and vaccines possible. It also helps specialists better understand how the virus spreads in the environment and mutates.

Preliminary studies show that the virus identified in Brazil is different from the one observed in Wuhan, China—the epicenter of the disease—by three mutations, two of which draw the virus close to the strain detected in the Bavaria region of Germany.

The first Brazilian patient confirmed to have been infected with the coronavirus was contaminated after a trip to Lombardy, in Italy. Even though tests indicate that the virus in Brazil is similar to its European variety, Italian samples are yet to be sequenced.

Figures

The Health Ministry reported a new case of the coronavirus has been confirmed. The patient, a 32-year-old man, was also in Milan, Italy. He was taken to São Paulo’s Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein on Friday (Feb. 28) with a fever, cough, sore throat, muscle pain, and a headache. His condition was considered mild and stable, which led him to be isolated at home.

As it stands today, 182 suspected cases are being monitored, and two cases have been confirmed thus far. Conversely, 71 cases have been ruled out.

Translation: Fabrício Ferreira -  Edition: Nira Foster

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