17.08.2020 change 17.08.2020

Poznań scientists carry out pioneering analyse of all Coronavirus genomes in Poland

Source: PAP Source: PAP

Scientists from the Institute of Human Genetics of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Poznań have carried out a comprehensive comparative analysis of all available complete genome sequences (genetic material structure) of the SARS-CoV-2 virus found so far in Poland.

Research on the genetic variability of the coronavirus was conducted at the Institute of Human Genetics PAS in Poznań under the joint supervision of Professor Ewa Ziętkiewicz, Professor Andrzej Pławski and the director of the Institute, Professor Michał Witt. According to Agnieszka Możejko from the Institute of Human Genetics PAS, this is pioneering research with scientists from Poznań being the first in Poland to conduct it.

Możejko explains that geneticists compared 90 sequences of SARS-CoV-2 isolated in Poland with 42,000 isolate sequences available in the international GISAID database, which collects data on all known influenza and SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences worldwide. Polish sequences come from several domestic research centres, including the Poznań Institute of Human Genetics PAS, the only source of such information in Wielkopolska.

“The coronavirus in Europe belongs to six widely recognized types: the phylogenetically older L, V and S, prevalent in Chinese samples from Wuhan, and the most common in European countries: G, GH and GR. The research conducted by geneticists from Poznań fills an important gap in the knowledge of coronavirus sequences present not only in Poland, but in all Slavic countries,’ Możejko said.

She adds that, as in the case of other European isolates, the majority of Polish samples belong to the G type: they are GR (53%), G (27%), GH and GHI (9%). Compared to other European countries, an significant GR type dominance was observed in Poland. Sequences from the older, predominant in China, L, V and S types account for only 6 percent of the analysed Polish sequences.

“The assessment of the sequences of the coronaviruses isolated in Poland clearly shows that we are dealing with a genetic mix of many types and subtypes of SARS-CoV-2 virus in the country, which is probably the result of the pathogen transfer from different geographic locations. Without an in-depth epidemiological interview, it is impossible to determine which country a given transmission case originated from and when it could have happened,” the press release reads.

The researchers also note that 'the overrepresentation of particular genetic types of coronavirus in individual outbreaks does not indicate a particular direction of virus evolution in a given location, but is a result of virus transfer, its rapid multiplication and selective sampling from individual sites. This shows how important it is to introduce an extensive program of coronavirus genetic testing in Poland, which the Poznań Institute of Human Genetics PAS has been requesting for a long time'.

According to the geneticists, complete information on the subtypes of viruses circulating in a given population is important for medical epidemiology, diagnosis and infection prevention.

The said: “Assigning the isolated virus to the major types identified in Europe is the first step in such endeavours, but only sequencing of the entire genetic material of the virus allows to detect new population-specific mutations. This is essential for reconstructing local infection pathways and identifying undocumented local sources of COVID-19 infection. In addition, access to information on the variability of strains occurring in Poland will allow to adjust future therapies or vaccines to the specificity of infections in the Polish population.”

So far in Poland, SARS-CoV-2 infection has been confirmed in a total of 52,410 people, 1,809 of whom have died. (PAP)

author: Anna Jowsa

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