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Genome Center to help detect nCoV via whole-genome sequencing

By: - Reporter / @CMarquezINQ
/ 06:02 PM February 04, 2020

A laboratory at the Philippine Genome Center (Photo from the PGC website)

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine Genome Center (PGC), a research unit based in the University of the Philippines Diliman, will assist the government in confirming cases of novel coronavirus acute respiratory disease (2019-nCoV ARD) through the process of whole-genome sequencing.

According to PGC, it’s equipped for “sequencing the whole viral genome from samples” collected from patients who are possibly infected with the new virus, which originated from Wuhan City in China.

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“The Philippines has the tools and cutting-edge equipment, trained DNA sequencing staff, and scientists to help validate the presence of 2019-nCoV in the country by sequencing the whole viral genome from samples collected from patients,” PGC executive director Dr. Cynthia Saloma said in a statement posted on the PGC official website.

The research institute will be using “Next Generation DNA/RNA Sequencing equipment (NGS)” for the whole genome sequencing to help the Department of Health (DOH) and Research Institute and Tropical Medicine (RITM) in verifying suspected cases of the 2019-nCoV ARD.

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The process of whole-genome sequencing with the NGS does not use primers that can be used to identify “unknown organisms in a sample mixture by using bioinformatics or computational tools,” PGC said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describes whole-genome sequencing as a “laboratory procedure that determines the order of bases in the genome of an organism in one process.”

According to CDC, scientists conduct data analysis, which is the fourth step of whole-genome sequencing,  to compare “bacterial sequences and identify differences.”

CDC said the identified differences will help scientists confirm “how closely related the bacteria are and how likely it is that they are part of the same outbreak.”

The DOH is currently investigating 80 individuals in the Philippines for suspected nCoV-ARD. It already recorded two confirmed cases of the virus from two Chinese nationals. The first is a 38-year-old Chinese woman, who tested positive for the virus on Thursday last week.

Over the weekend, a 44-year-old Chinese man, who was admitted to a hospital in Manila for having respiratory infections, died on Feb. 1, Saturday.

The World Health Organization said this was the first death recorded outside China.

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TAGS: 2019-nCoV, Philippine Genome Center, University of the Philippines Diliman, whole genome sequencing
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