Top News

Thursday, Aug 06, 2020 13:45 [IST]

Last Update: Thursday, Aug 06, 2020 08:19 [IST]

Music to the ears

In some "good news" for scientists working on a viable vaccine for Covid-19, a latest study has found that the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19, and other coronaviruses shows little variability, despite having at least six strains. Pathogenic coronaviruses are a major threat to global public health, as shown by the SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, and the newly emerged SARS-CoV-2.
Published in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology, the "most extensive" study ever carried out on SARS-CoV-2 sequencing drew from the analysis of 48,635 coronavirus genomes, which were isolated by researchers in labs all over the world. The researchers at the University of Bologna in Italy mapped the spread and the mutations of the virus during its journey to all continents.
The findings show that the novel coronavirus presents little variability, approximately seven mutations per sample. Common influenza has a variability rate that is more than double, the researchers said. The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is presumably already optimised to affect human beings, and this explains its low evolutionary change. This means that the treatments we are developing, including a vaccine, might be effective against all the virus strains.
The researchers noted that currently there are six strains of the novel coronavirus. The original one is the L strain, that appeared in Wuhan in December 2019. Its first mutation - the S strain - appeared at the beginning of 2020, while, since mid-January, we have had strains V and G. To date strain G is the most widespread: it mutated into strains GR and GH at the end of February, according to the researchers. Besides the six main coronavirus strains, researchers identified some infrequent mutations that, they said, are not worrying at the moment but should be monitored.
Along with this, Scientists in the US have also found a potential therapeutic treatment for SARS-CoV-2. A set of drug-like small molecules can block the activity of a key SARS-CoV-2 protein, providing a promising path for new Covid-19 therapeutics. The study, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, has found that small molecule protease inhibitors show potency against human coronaviruses. These coronavirus 3C-like proteases, known as 3CLpro, are strong therapeutic targets because they play vital roles in coronavirus replication, the researchers said. Vaccine developments and treatments are the biggest targets in Covid-19 research, and treatment is really key. The research paper describes protease inhibitors targeting coronavirus 3CLpro, which is a well-known therapeutic target.
The study demonstrates that this series of optimised coronavirus 3CLpro inhibitors blocked replication of the human coronaviruses MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 in cultured cells and in a mouse model for MERS. These findings suggest that this series of compounds should be investigated further as a potential therapeutic for human coronavirus infection. This is a great start. Our hope is that this can turn into a starting point for creating a drug and a vaccine that will finally defeat this resilient virus.

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi