- There are 3 known mutations of the Coronavirus at the present time.
- The new technology will provide a quick efficient way to track mutations and aid in vaccine creation.
- It could also tailor protocol for treeament and track additional mutations, if such will continue to occur.
A new research paper has been published pertaining to the creation of an algorithm that is able to quickly identify the mutations of COVID-19. Now the effectiveness of quarantine can be tangibly tracked and evaluated. Labs that are working to develop a vaccine, and some that are in testing phases, will be evaluate their vaccines using this new technology.
The lead of the project is Gail L. Rosen, Associate Professor in the Ecological and Evolutionary Signal-Processing and Informatics Laboratory, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Drexel University in Philadelphia.
The algorithm can also determine the genetic subtype of the pathogen that infects a specific individual. In biology, a pathogen in the oldest and broadest sense, is anything that can produce disease. A pathogen may also be referred to as an infectious agent, or simply a germ.
- Type A originated in China September 2019.
- Type B started around Christmas 2019. In New York State the predominant is Type B.
- Type C, which thus far has not mutated but appeared later. So far, type C has been predominant in Singapore and certain parts of China (not Wuhan).
It is very common for viruses to mutate. There is always a push to have new antibiotics developed, as virus strains mutate and older antibiotics become no longer effective. That is why it is so crucial to track the changes of the ribonucleic acid (RNA), the polymeric molecule essential in various biological roles in coding, decoding, regulation and expression of genes. RNA and DNA are nucleic acids, and, along with lipids, proteins and carbohydrates, constitute the four major macromolecules essential for all known forms of life.
The authors of the new study have identified areas in the genome of the coronavirus with a length of one nucleotide that are most informative in terms of its mutations. It turned out that there are only 17 such fragments. Together, they form a kind of passport for the genetic subtype of the virus. Biologists have called it an informative subtype marker (ISM).
Efficient ISM technology and prompt tracking of coronavirus around the world can help scientist analyze the effectiveness of measures that are being taken.
In the near future, it will allow doctors to be able tailor treatment based on the mutation type of COVID-19 and it might help develop more than one variant of the vaccine against coronavirus once the vaccines are successfully tested and rolled out to the general public. The vaccine is expected to become available in 2021.