The COVID-19 pandemic is a major concern for governments, healthcare institutions and the general public all around the globe. Since the Spanish Flu that ravaged the world in the early half of the 20th century, the world has not seen an outbreak of such a massive scale. With the spread of COVID-19 in USA, India, Italy and other countries across the globe, scientists have finally turned their attention to stopping this pandemic.
Exploring the Origin of COVID-19
COVID-19 is short for Corona Virus Disease and 19 denotes the year the disease was identified. It belongs to the family of Coronaviruses that has previously caused mild symptoms in humans (common cold) and is believed to be widely spread in animals. The shift of this virus from the animal kingdom to humans has led to a virus that mutates rapidly to evade the natural immune barrier of the human body making this disease highly contractible and infectious. As a result, this novel variant of the virus is still being studied by researchers all over the world working towards finding a vaccine and an antiviral drug that can stop the disease.
According to reports, the new virus strain shows 96% similarity to a known coronavirus in bats and is 86-92% identical to a coronavirus in pangolin. But it’s not only the overall percentage that matters. For example, the human genome is close to that of a mouse. In fact, the protein-coding regions of the mouse and human genomes are 85 percent identical; some genes are 99 percent identical. But humans and mice are very different! Specific positions on the genome and their function in viral replication and cell entry are critical to develop effective strategies for vaccine and drug design.
How can you contribute as citizen scientists?
With a shutdown spreading around the world in order to combat the spread of Coronavirus, we understand that this must be a very difficult time for all of us. We also know that many of you want to help and contribute towards this cause to study, understand and help stop the spread of COVID-19. The Pine Biotech team along with our collaborators at the Tauber Bioinformatics Research Center, Louisiana Biomedical Research Network and Georgetown University Medical Center has been actively working to provide resources and materials to scientists, researchers and students all over the globe who want to learn more about this virus. As a citizen scientist, you too can be part of this global initiative and contribute to these studies.
Recently, we organized a Free Webinar dedicated to the genomics of COVID-19, where we explored the viral genomes, genes, proteins and the virology of the disease. We discussed how the data and the various analysis tools can help in the detection of viral genomes, compare and distinguish between viral strains, identify the impact of mutations on the functionality of viral proteins, and discuss the virology from the standpoint of data. The data analyzed during the workshop was sourced from the public domain databases available since 2019 to the early months of 2020. The analysis tools used were made available on the T-Bio Info Platform. This workshop will be repeated for the general public for free, to register, visit: https://edu.tbioinfo.com/en-us/covid-19-bioinformatics
The COVID-19 Genomics Webinar is part of a larger program that we are launching in May 2020. In this upcoming program titled, Bioinformatics for Infectious Diseases, we will speak about the viral diversity of epidemic diseases like Ebola, COVID-19, Influenza and others at length as well as learn about the bioinformatics analysis approaches to study viral genomes.
When you register before March 31st, you can take advantage of the 30% EARLY BIRD discount to joining this course that will give you access to educational course materials and powerful analytical tools enabling you to learn more about viral pandemics and virology of diseases like COVID-19, SARs, MERS, and others.
If you are interested, you can also watch this video here to learn more:https://youtu.be/zZkK98AlvsM