Science & Technology

IMTech Chandigarh to start novel coronavirus genome sequencing

Two other institutes under CSIR already on the job

By Jyoti Singh
Published: Thursday 16 April 2020
Coronavirus impression. Artist: Matt why do you need my last name / Pixabay

Institute of Microbial Technology (IMTech), Chandigarh has taken up large-scale genome sequencing of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. The institute, known for specialisation in microbial and genomic research, sequence the virus RNA (ribonucleic acid) genome isolated from clinical samples.

It will be third institute under the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), after the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) and the Institute of Genomic and Integrated Biology (IGIB), to do so.

The novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has affected more than 10,000 Indians and resulted in more than 400 deaths.   

Whole-genome sequencing is used to determine the complete DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) sequence of a specific organism’s genome.

Viruses have a higher mutation rate than microbes; their genetic material changes quickly as they replicate rapidly.

“These genome sequencing samples will be submitted to international recongised repository,” said IMTech Director Sanjeev Khosla. The complete genome sequence information will enable researchers to gain insights about the origins of the virus, different types of strains in India and how SARS-CoV-2 has spread across the length and breadth of our country.

“The genomic resource obtained from this sequencing will also allow identification of new targets for diagnosis and drugs for COVID-19” Khosla told ISW.

So far, 9,000 samples have been sequenced internationally, according to Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data — a public platform started by the World health Organization in 2008 for countries to share genome sequences. The genomic resource obtained from this sequencing will also allow identification of new targets of diagnosis and drugs for COVID-19. 

“We have already started clinical testing of samples and now by embarking on this mission to sequence viral strains, we will be better equipped to understand the nature of this virus, which has caused a global pandemic,” Khosla said.

IMTech will use its experience in portable, real-time and direct genome sequencing to study the chemical modification in SARS-Cov-2 strains from India. (India Science Wire)

Keywords: genome sequencing, novel coronavirus, virus, IMTech


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