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Chandigarh-based IMTech to begin genome sequencing of novel coronavirus

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The genomic resource obtained from this sequencing will also allow identification of new targets of diagnosis and drugs for COVID-19

After the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) and the Institute of Genomic and Integrated Biology (IGIB), one more institute of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has started whole-genome sequencing of novel coronavirus. Chandigarh-based Institute of Microbial Technology (IMTech) has taken up the task of large-scale genome sequencing of the virus.

“These genome sequencing samples will be submitted to the international recognised repository. The genomic resource obtained from this sequencing will also allow identification of new targets for diagnosis and drugs for COVID-19,” said Dr Sanjeev Khosla, Director, IMTech.

Whole-genome sequencing is a method used to determine the complete DNA sequence of a specific organism’s genome. As the Institute is known for its specialisation in microbial and genomic research, CSIR-IMTech will perform sequencing of the SARS-Cov-2 RNA genome isolated from clinical samples.

So far, 9000 samples have been sequenced internationally as per Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID) — a public platform started by the WHO in 2008 for countries to share genome sequences. The genomic resource obtained from this sequencing will also allow the identification of new targets of diagnosis and drugs for COVID-19.

Dr Khosla informed, “We have already started clinical testing of samples and now by embarking on this mission to sequence viral strains, we will be better equipped to understand the nature of this virus, which has caused a global pandemic.”

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