IIT Jodhpur researcher co-led study identifies COVID-19 RNA variations

IIT Jodhpur: The study is expected to help in adopting precautions, treatment against new variants of concern

IIT Jodhpur researcher co-led study identifies COVID-19 RNA variations IITJ: Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Jodhpur
Abhiraj P | Feb 10, 2022 - 8:56 p.m. IST
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NEW DELHI: A researcher from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Jodhpur, Mitali Mukerji, head of the department of bioscience and bioengineering, co-led a research team to identify variations in the RNA of the COVID-19 virus by using genomic sequencing methods which can help in adopting precautionary methods and treatment protocols against emerging variants.

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The research team also studied the variations that occur in the virus while it is inside a host cell and its persistence to outside. The study has been published in the journal Nucleic Acid Research.

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According to a statement from IIT Jodhpur, frequent RNA variations occur at a minor scale in the COVID-19 virus when inside a host cell. These are called intra-host variations. Many such variations occur due to the immunity response from the host cell and hence are mostly harmless or destructive to the virus. But some variations in the RNA structure of the Covid virus leads to its increased survivability and becomes variants of concern.

The study assessed virus samples from different countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States of America, China, Germany, Malaysia and different subpopulations of India.

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The institute claims that studying the intra-host single nucleotide variations can help in taking necessary precautions and developing treatment against emerging variants of concern. It also said that the study will help understand differences in individual and population responses to COVID-19 infection.

The study was conducted at the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (CSIR – IGIB) in Delhi. The research was led by IIT Jodhpur and Institute of Life Sciences (Bhubaneswar) and was accompanied by researchers from Academy of Scientific and Innovative Research (Ghaziabad), Council of Scientific and Industrial Research – Center for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CSIR-CCMB) located in Hyderabad, and National Center for Disease Control (NCDC) in New Delhi.

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“One of the most important aspects to manage the COVID-19 pandemic is to unravel the genetic structure of the virus and pick up early warning Signatures. We observed 16,410 iSNV sites spanning the viral genome, and a high density of alterations were present in critical areas that could alter or override the body’s ability to trigger an immune response,” said Mukerji.

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