Scientists are trying to figure out a mutation of the new coronavirus seen around the world that some believe could make the virus more contagious, reports say.
The mutation, officially designated D614G or “G” for short, has been shown to affect the virus’s advanced protein, which is a structure that allows it to enter human cells. The more effective the advanced protein, the easier it can enter a host’s body.
Research has suggested that the mutation, which changes amino acid 614 from “D” (aspartic acid) to “G” (glycine), could make the advanced protein more efficient, which improves the infectivity of the virus, according to the Washington Post.
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The researchers found that of the approximately 50,000 genomes of the new virus uploaded to a shared database, approximately 70% were carriers of the mutation.
“The epidemiological study and our data together really explain why the [G variant’s] spreading to Europe and the United States has been very rapid, ”said Hyeryun Choe, virologist at Scripps Research. “It’s not just accidental. ”
Choe was the lead author of an unpublished study on the increased infectivity of variant G in laboratory cell cultures. He said there were several reasons why “G” was more effective in spreading the virus.
In the mutation, the external parts of these proteins that bind to a human receptor were less likely to rupture, which was a fault of SARS-CoV-2, the virus from China that causes COVID-19.
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The faulty mechanism made SARS-CoV-2 more difficult to invade host cells. He added that “G” has more advanced proteins, and said that these reasons made the mutation 10 times more infectious in laboratory experiments, according to the Post.
“I think this mutation has occurred to compensate,” said Choe.
The mutation has also been found to be more contagious in four studies that have not yet been peer reviewed. A study by scientists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory found that patients with the “G” mutation also have more viruses in their bodies, which makes them more likely to transmit it to others, says the report. .
Others believe that more studies are needed to determine the effectiveness of the mutation in spreading the virus.
“The bottom line is that we haven’t seen anything final yet,” said Jeremy Luban, virologist at the University of Massachusetts medical school.
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Choe added that the mutation had no impact on the lethality of the virus for those infected, but only on its contagiousness, the newspaper said.