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DUHS identifies natural mutation resistant to corona in human genes

KARACHI: Experts at the Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS) recently recognized two naturally occurring mutations in the human gene that can withstand the novel coronavirus. The coronavirus, due to these mutations in the human gene, can be ineffective in the body.

This research study was recently published in the Journal of Medical Virology. Experts say recent research will help determine/allocate the medical resources needed to combat the global coronavirus outbreak.

Experts at the Dow University said that the test samples taken during the screening could also be used to detect the presence of these genetic variants. The presence of either or both of these mutations will reduce the chances of the coronavirus disease getting worse, in which case the person affected by the corona will only need quarantine in one room of the house. In contrast, in other cases, the person with the virus may require further medications along with hospitalization and ventilator support.

The research conducted at the Dow College of Biotechnology, DUHS, under the supervision of Dr Mushtaq Hussain, Vice Principal, Dow College of Biotechnology, has been published in the Journal of Medical Virology. Dr Hussain and his team, including Dr Nusrat Jabeen, Fozia Raza, Sanya Shabbir, Ayesha Ashraf Baig, Anusha Amanullah, and Basma Aziz explored the mutations in the ACE2 gene/protein of 1000s of humans via genomic data mining.

The ACE2 (angiotensin-converting enzyme 2) protein is a molecule to which the SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent of COVID-19, binds at the very initial phase of the infection. With the help of extensive structural modeling and docking techniques, the researchers predicted that two mutations, S19P and E329G, in ACE2 might make humans (with these mutations) naturally resistant to the COVID-19 infection.

Screening of COVID-19 patients for the presence of these mutations will, in turn, help in predicting the prognosis of the disease and determine the allocation of the limiting resources.

Dr Mushtaq Hussain, head of the research team, said that in data mining, the human genomes of individuals from China, Latin America, and some European countries are included. It is worth mentioning here that in the above analysis, the frequency of the mutations in ACE-2 was very low. Keeping in mind that the countries mentioned above have been severely affected by the coronavirus.

Prof Muhammad Saeed Quraishy, Vice-Chancellor of the Dow University of Health Sciences, met Dr Hussain and members of the research team and applauded their efforts. He congratulated them on completing this timely research and its success on an international level. He said that at the Dow University, research is being carried out on COVID-19 on various aspects and getting positive results as well. “We hope that these efforts to save human beings from this global epidemic will be successful,” Dr Quraishy noted.

-MN Report

April 11, 2020

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