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COVID-19 is mutated.What that means is everyone’s guess

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It is mutated.

It’s a random event, but a variant was born. It happens constantly. Fortunately, most of these accidents do not affect the severity of infection, epidemic, or illness and disappear quickly. However, useful ones help speed up virus replication and create champions that can replace previous variants. These are called stocks.

Some virologists believe that SARS-CoV-2 emerged more than a year ago through the encounter between the Greater Horseshoe Bat and so-called “reservoir” hosts (such as the Pangolins). Others believe that the virus was already quietly circulating in animals and humans long before it mutated into the form it arrived in late 2019. In any case, the virus that causes COVID-19 has been mutated for a year.

New newspaper A team of PhD students from the University of Illinois’ Faculty of Information Science graphed the mutation rates of the 29 proteins that make up SARS-CoV-2. These details are important.Because if the protein is highly mutated, high levels entropy -It’s effectively a moving target, which is bad for vaccines.

The good news is that some of their findings, at least initially, offer hope for vaccines currently on the market, the authors report. The bad news is that there are multiple “intrinsically disordered regions” in the protein structure of the virus, which can cause problems with these vaccines over time, he added.

But at least future vaccine makers will know that they will then target those areas.

“The spike protein story is a good result,” says lead author Gustavo Caetano-Anolles. He argues here that mutations to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein have slowed over the past year, and spikes protruding from all coronaviruses are now familiar to us in our lives. Talks about the discovery of.

The COVID-19 spike is the target of the first two COVID-19 vaccines expected to be approved, as a landing gear was required to latch SARS-CoV-2 to the ACE2 receptor in the lung. Pfizer and Moderna products use mRNA. This is a synthetic set of genetic instructions that direct the body to produce excess floating spikes, allowing the immune system to track them when they eventually attach to SARS-CoV-2.

The Caetano-Anolles team, like everyone else, has learned that the protein that controls spikes (called G614D) has become less variable over the past year. This means that the vaccines that will be shipped soon are designed to accept the same. “It shows that spike mutations are stable, and if you’re targeting spikes, it’s not a protein that disappears in a few months. That’s good news.” The bad news is that of the 29 proteins of the virus. Twenty-seven amino acids have also been identified as places of significant change.

“All of these are ways the virus must avoid targeting with vaccines that we may be producing.”

In addition to copy errors, the virus mutates after hitting an obstacle, and the new vaccine creates a barrier for the spike protein to function when attacked. Although it may look like the Achilles tendon that is essential to the survival of COVID-19, “S protein is just one entry point for many things that occur in the infectious process,” he says. “Without it, the virus’s titer is reduced, but the virus continues to infect.”

If anything, the lessons of the ongoing mutation of COVID-19, the story currently writing in Chapters 2 and 3, provides a bridge to normal until the next significant mutation in our vaccine. You may be lucky if you do.

In this sense, the ultimate goal of COVID-19 gene tracking is not to eradicate the virus, but to grasp the changes, enough time for the body to knock it back into something more manageable.

“Some coronaviruses live with us and do not cause illness,” says Caetano-Anolles. “It’s the best option for the virus … it wants to balance the very aggressive and the very mild. It’s strange because it comes from animals and reaches that equilibrium. I’m trying. ”

Caetano-Anolles is reluctant to predict how long it will take. He says we opened the Pandora’s Box.

Viruses are part of the life cycle. Like cancer, they are the product of mutations, perhaps promoting adaptation, diversity, and survival. This suggests finding a way to coexist with SARS-CoV-2.

“Human, animals, and all living things have lived with the virus for a long time … this pandemic only highlights it,” he says.

These are pretty big themes for a team of graduate students.

“We were lucky. We were able to ask interesting questions about how the virus changed in the first wave that passed through the world. Now we ask these questions about the second and third waves. need to do it.”

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