The novel Coronavirus has developed many Worrying mutationAs a result of this, many new forms emerged around the world. Now, a new study sheds light on how easily the virus mutates and why these mutations help “escape” the body’s immune response.

Study researchers found that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is often mutated by removing small fragments of its genetic code. Although the virus has its own “proofreading” mechanism that fixes errors as the virus replicates, an annulment will not appear on the proofreader’s radar.

“It’s obviously clever,” study senior author Paul Dupreaux, director of the Center for Vaccine Research at the University of Pittsburgh. “You can’t decide what’s not there.”

What’s more for SARS-CoV-2, these deletions often appear in similar spots on the genome, according to the study, published on February 3 in the journal Science. These are sites where people’s antibodies will inactivate and inactivate the virus. But because of these deletions, some Antibodies Can not recognize the virus.

Duprex compared the deletions to a string of beads, where a bead pops out. They said it might not be a big deal, but for an antibody, it is “completely different,” he said. “These small little absences have a big, big impact.”

Sneak away

Duprex and his colleagues first noticed these deletions in a patient infected with coronovirus abnormally long – 74 days. The patient had a weak immune system, which prevented them from cleaning the virus properly. During the long transition, the coronovirus began to develop as it played “cat and mouse” with the patient Immune system, Eventually developing deletion, the researchers said.

He wondered how common such deletions were. They used a database called GISAID To analyze some 150,000 genetic sequences of SARS-CoV-2 collected from samples around the world. And a pattern emerged. “These deletions began at very different sites,” said study author Kevin McCarthy, assistant professor of molecular biology and molecular genetics at the University of Pittsburgh.

“We saw them again and again,” SARS-CoV-2 samples collected at different times from different parts of the world, he said. These virus strains seemed to be independently developing these deletions due to “normal selective pressure”, the researchers wrote in their paper.

Researchers called these sites “recurrent deletion zones”. They noticed that these areas tend to be in virus spots. Spike protein Where antibodies bind to inactivate the virus. “This gave us the first indication that these deletions were possibly leading to ‘migration’ or evolution [of the virus] Away from the antibodies that bind, ”said McCarthy.

Predict new variants

The researchers began their project in the summer of 2020, when coronaviruses were not thought to mutate in a significant way. But the pop-up deletion in their data said otherwise. In October 2020, he introduced a version with these deletions, which later became known as “.”Uk edition, “Or B.1.1.7. This version began to receive global attention in December 2020, when it rapidly landed in the United Kingdom.

The authors wrote, “Our survey for deletion variants captured the first representative of the B.1.1.7 lineage.” Their discovery underscores the importance of Likes monitoring virus development by tracking these deletions and other mutations.

“We need to develop tools, and we need to reinforce our vigilance to seek and follow these things … so we can start predicting what’s going on,” McCarthy said .

Although the virus may mutate to avoid certain antibodies, other antibodies can still effectively inactivate the virus.

“Following the virus is going many different ways of how we beat the shape-shifter,” Duprex Said in a statement. “Combination of different antibodies [i.e. different monoclonal antibody treatments] … different types of vaccines. If there is a crisis, we would like to keep those backups. “

The findings also show why it is important to wear masks and apply other measures to prevent the virus from spreading – the more people it infects, the more chances it has to replicate and potentially mutate.

“Anything that we can do to reduce the number of replicates over and over again … will buy us a little time,” Franks said.

Originally published on Live science.