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Dhaka Tribune

Bangladesh scientists complete genome sequencing of 222 Sars-Cov-2 samples

This will pave the way for Covid-19 vaccine development

Update : 18 Jul 2020, 06:02 PM

Bangladesh has completed genome sequencing of 222 Sars-CoV-2 samples at different laboratories, the second highest in South Asia. The genome sequencing will be valuable in the development of a vaccine for the disease.

Of the 222, Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (BCSIR) has done 173, while the rest were done by various other research organizations.

Yeafesh Osman, the science and technology minister, told the Dhaka Tribune: “Genome sequencing i very important in order to innovate proper vaccines or drugs for a specific disease.

“International organizations working on the Covid-19 vaccine, including Oxford University, will consider the genome sequencing completed in Bangladesh for developing a specific medication for this territory.”

On May 30, BCSIR decoded the genome of coronavirus samples collected from three locals, which strongly indicated that the virus arrived in Bangladesh from Europe.

“According to the analysis, this virus in Bangladesh is 99.99% similar to that of European sources, particularly Sweden,” said Dr Md Selim Khan, principal scientific officer, project director, and the team leader of the research.

Data analysis showed that nine variants of the virus were available at the amino acid level.

On Saturday, Dr Selim said: “After completing the genome sequencing of 173 samples, we have found that the virus is also similar to those of China and the United States, apart from European ones.”

According to the BCSIR, the 173 samples were collected from people of different age groups living in different areas of the country.

The detailed information of the sequencing is available via the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID) website where the database is stored.

“The decoded genomes of all countries are available at the International Gene Bank,” said Dr Selim.

“As of July 17, 66,875 genome sequencing has been completed, as reported by the International Gene Bank. India’s contribution is 1,578, while Bangladesh has done 222,” he added.

A team of the Child Health Research Foundation (CHRF) was the first Bangladeshi entity to complete the genome sequence for the novel coronavirus. A team of eight researchers led by microbiologist Dr Samir Kumar Saha and his daughter Dr Senjuti Saha successfully completed the sequencing in May.

Apart from the BCSIR and CHRF, Dhaka University, Bangladesh Jute Research Institute, Bangladesh Institute of Tropical and Infectious Disease (BITID), National Institute of Laboratory Medicine and Referral Centre, Chittagong Veterinary and Animal Science University (CVASU), DNA solution National Institute of Biotechnology, AKM biomedand ICDDR’B also contributed to decode genome sequence.

How can genome sequencing help fight Covid-19?

Researchers said that genome sequencing can identify the genetic changes that occur in a virus. When it spread through the population, it will allow the monitoring of the spread of the disease within the country and among the population over time.

“Genome sequence assists in designing effective drugs, therapies and vaccine that target specific sequences of genomes or genes of the will help us to develop a vaccine targeting our own population,” said Kazi Nadim Hasan, professor of biochemistry and microbiology at the North South University.

“As the genome sequence can identify the particular viral strain that are prevalent, we can see that common and unique strain of virus with matching sequences. The drug will be designed for the common strain of the virus,” he told the Dhaka Tribune.

“It will also help us to develop anti-viral treatment and anti-viral therapy,” he added.

“Though we have marked eight unique strains but at the same time, the 38 common strains have been identified which will help to design the vaccine,” said Dr Salim of the BCSIR.

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