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Australian experts find novel method to study COVID-19

Science agency’s findings will help researchers better understand as to how strains of coronavirus evolve

Riyaz ul Khaliq   | 20.04.2020
Australian experts find novel method to study COVID-19


Scientists in Australia are using a new method to study the thousands of genetic sequences of the coronavirus.

A statement by Australia's national science agency – Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) – on Monday said that its researches unveiled a “new approach” to analyze the genetic codes, or the blueprint, of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19.

“The findings will help researchers better understand how strains of the virus evolve and help identify new clusters of the virus,” the statement said.

CSIRO’s Chief Executive Dr Larry Marshall said knowing the genetic code was “vital”. “The more we know about this virus, the better armed we'll be to fight it,” Dr Marshall said.

A team of researchers at CSIRO is already holding clinical trials for an anti-COVID-19 vaccine.

The CSIRO researchers said a thorough study of global data on the published genome sequences of the coronavirus “will help fast track our understanding of this complex disease”.

Researchers will use bioinformatics algorithms to analyze the human genome.

"This highly complex analysis of the genome sequence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus has already helped to determine which strains of the virus are suitable for testing vaccines underway at the Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness in Geelong – the only high biocontainment facility of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere," Marshall said.

The head of CSIRO's Bioinformatics lab Dr Denis Bauer said: “Globally there is now a huge amount of individual virus sequences. Assessing the evolutionary distance between these data points and visualizing it helps researchers find out about the different strains of the virus -- including where they came from and how they continue to evolve."

Australia has reported 6,619 coronavirus cases, with 71 deaths so far.

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