New Initiative to Study Coronavirus Genome

FRIDAY, May 1, 2020 (HealthDay News) — At least 75 U.S. public health, academic and commercial institutions will be brought together to study the genome of the new coronavirus in an effort to hasten research into how it’s spreading in the U.S. and how to fight it, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

Tiny mutations accumulate in the genetic code of a virus as it replicates, and identifying those changes help scientist track transmission patterns and outbreaks, The New York Times reported.

Sharing research on genetic changes in viruses helps combat them, but it’s long been the case that laboratories studying pathogen genomes released only general information about them, often in scientific journals. In some states, patient privacy laws limit the information that scientists can release.

Without context, genetic sequences on their own have little meaning. A goal of this CDC initiative is to standardize the information that should accompany each sequence, such as where and when a sample was taken.

These are crucial details for making use of the data, and it’s hoped that sharing the results of genetic research on the coronavirus will help scientists create vaccines and treatments, The Times reported.

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