Author Topic: ‘Striking’ coronavirus mutations found within one family cluster, Chinese scientists  (Read 74 times)


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Stephen Chen in Beijing
Published: 11:30pm, 3 Feb, 2020

Researchers studying a cluster of infections within a family in the southern province of Guangdong said the genes of the virus went through some significant changes as it spread within the family.

Two nonsynonymous changes took place in the viral strains isolated from the family, according to a new study by Professor Cui Jie and colleagues at the Institut Pasteur of Shanghai.

Cui’s team also detected a total of 17 nonsynonymous mutations from cases around the country between December 30 and late January, they wrote.

Sars, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, mutated at the speed of 1 to 3 changes per thousand “sites” each year, according to previous studies.
Shi said that scientists still did not know the mutation speed of the new coronavirus because “most of the available [viral gene] sequences are not complete. They come in fragments.”

But on Saturday, the Zhejiang Provincial Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Zhejiang CDC) said it was teaming up with tech giant Alibaba, which owns the South China Morning Post, to develop a new method of genome analysis using artificial intelligence to study the virus from patient samples.

The Zhejiang CDC said the new technology was expected to cut the sequencing time from several hours to about 30 minutes, allowing scientists to track mutations quicker and more precisely.

It is not clear yet what the mutations mean for patients. Qiu Haibo, a member of the national expert panel advising the government on the fight against the virus, said on Sunday that so far there was no evidence that mutations could cause “repeated infections”.

More at the link

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