The scientists found evidence of a mutation in the new corona virus that suggests the virus can adapt to humans after being transmitted from bats, affecting vaccine research.
Analysis of more than 5,300 new corona virus genomes from 62 countries showed that although the virus was quite stable, some had mutations, including two genetic changes that alter the “spike protein” the virus uses. used to attach to human cells, according to the Guardian.
Researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine stressed that it’s not clear how these mutations affect viruses, but since they arise independently in different countries, this could help. virus spread more easily.
Mutations in the prickly protein are rare at this time, but Martin Hibberd, professor of emerging infectious diseases and one of the authors of the study, said the occurrence of the mutations highlighted. the need for global virus surveillance to quickly detect more worrying changes.
“This is exactly what we need to pay attention,” Mr. Hibberd said. “People are making vaccines and other therapies against this dendritic protein because this seems like a very good target. We need to keep an eye on it and make sure that every mutation won’t neutralize any. any of these approaches “.
From the outset, studies of the new corona virus, SARS-CoV-2, have shown that the shape of the dendritic protein allows the virus to bind to human cells more effectively than SARS, the same virus that causes them. disease outbreaks in 2002. This difference could have helped the new corona virus infect more people at a rapid rate worldwide.
Scientists are worried whether there will be more spikes in the protein, not just because they could change the way the virus works. Prickly protein is the main target of leading vaccines in the world and if it changes too much, these vaccines may not work. Other potential treatments, such as synthetic antibodies that attack the prickly protein, may also be less effective.
“This is an early warning,” said Professor Hibberd. “Even if these mutations are not important to the vaccine, other mutations may occur and we need to maintain our oversight so that we will not get beaten up because developing a vaccine that has only Effective against some strains of virus “.
The scientists analyzed 5,349 new corona virus genomes that have been uploaded to two main genetic databases since the outbreak began. By studying the genetic structure of the virus, scientists have discovered how it differentiates into different strains and looks for signs of adaptability to humans.
In an unpolished study, the researchers identified two broad groups of corona viruses that are now spreading globally. For two mutations in the dendritic protein, one was found in 788 viruses worldwide, while the other mutated only 32 viruses.
The study showed that, until January, a corona virus group in China was undetected because they had mutations in the genetic region on which the initial tests were based. Recent tests have detected all known viruses.
Last month, an international team of scientists used genetic analyzes to show that the new corona virus is likely to originate from bats and not be created in the lab as conspiracy theories say.