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SarsCov2 virus progenitor found

2021-05-06T00:49:09.085Z

It was born in China and circulated around the world since October (ANSA) SarsCov2 virus progenitor identified. While the animal that may have served as a natural reservoir for the virus responsible for the Covid-19 pandemic remains a mystery, the research team at Temple University in Philadelphia led by Sudhir Kumar managed to trace the origins of the virus by following its mutations to backward, to the point of reconstructing the family tree. Going further and furthe



SarsCov2 virus progenitor identified.

While the animal that may have served as a natural reservoir for the virus responsible for the Covid-19 pandemic remains a mystery, the research team at Temple University in Philadelphia led by Sudhir Kumar managed to trace the origins of the virus by following its mutations to backward, to the point of reconstructing the family tree.

Going further and further back in time, analyzing one genetic sequence after another among those deposited in international databases, the researchers discovered that the progenitor of SarsCoV2, called proCoV2, and its variants, were circulating all over the world as early as October. 2019.



According to the study, published in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution, proCov2 is the most recent common ancestor, a sort of 'mother' of the entire SarsCoV2 coronavirus family. Researchers led by Sudhir Kumar set out on the genetic traces of the coronavirus and, going back in time on the basis of genetic maps, they reconstructed the beginning of its evolutionary history by tracing its spread over time and space.


Schematic representation of the family tree of the SarsCoV2 virus. The most common variants are also represented (source: Sudhir Kumar, Temple University)



"A technique commonly used in cancer research was used to identify the parent genome, called mutation order analysis, which is based on the analysis of mutant strains", geneticist Giuseppe Novelli, from the University, told ANSA. of Rome Tor Vergata. "We see how often mutation pairs appear together to find the root of the virus."



Studying the sequences it is also possible to date with a certain approximation the origin of the virus: "Kumar's group estimates that the virus has a mutation rate of about 2 mutations per month and that it originated at least 6-8 weeks (therefore at end of October 2019) before the first genome sequenced in China, known as Wuhan-1, "continues Novelli.



This would explain the early spread in many countries, such as Italy where the virus arrived in December 2019, before the Wuhan cases came to light. However, the progenitor is different from the genomes of the first coronaviruses collected in Wuhan for three variations, which means, according to the researchers, that none of the first Wuhan patients were the zero case that gave rise to the chain of infections.



The mutations of the progenitor and its descendants then produced many coronavirus strains that became dominant, over time taking the place of each other in Asia and Europe. The progenitor of the SarsCoV2 virus was therefore born in China, where it gave rise to a family of coronaviruses that spread all over the world, in the first phase of the pandemic; one of these numerous 'grandchildren' is the strain that triggered the first Wuhan outbreak. "The December events in Wuhan - comments Kumar - represented the first super-diffusion event of a virus, which had all the tools necessary to cause a pandemic". For Novelli "this kind of knowledge could help us find new ways to block viruses and therapies that work on the entire family of viruses, instead of just one".



According to virologist Francesco Broccolo, of the University of Milan Bicocca, "the use of phylogenetic methods as occurred in this case, where the various sequences in time and space are compared to understand the origin and predict the evolution of the virus, it must be interpreted with extreme caution, given that various studies of this kind made on Sarscov2 have not always given consistent results. Let's say that the 'SarsCov2 case' is not yet closed ".

Source: ansa

All tech articles on 2021-05-06

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