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'Weakened version of the virus': scientists have found out how a person affects the SARS-CoV-2 mutation

Researchers say SARS-CoV-2 is mutated by human proteins that break it down. But, despite this, the system of "natural selection" inherent in the virus allows it to recover, writes Fox News.

Photo: Shutterstock

Scientists from the University of Bath in the UK and the University of Edinburgh say their research could help develop vaccines to fight the virus. In a statement, the researchers note that all organisms mutate, but this is usually a random process as a result of mistakes made when copying DNA.

“In the case of SARS-CoV-2, the mutation may not be a random process, and instead people are contributing to its mutation - this is part of the defense mechanism for the virus to degrade,” they explain.

The research is published in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution.

After studying more than 15 viral genomes in research projects around the world, scientists have identified 000 mutations.

"They studied how strongly each of the four components of the virus's genetic code (designated by the letters A, C, U and G) mutates, and found that the virus has a very high mutation rate in the U component," the scientists said.

They explained that this is a kind of “fingerprint” of the mutational profile of APOBEC, a human protein that can cause viruses to mutate.

"Natural selection (survival of the fittest) allows the virus to fight the mutational process," the researchers noted.

On the subject: Nine times infectious: a new strain of coronavirus is spreading in the US and Europe

“I've looked at the mutation profiles of many organisms, and they all show some kind of influence, but I've never seen something as strong and strange as this before,” explained lead author Professor Lawrence Hirst, director of the Milner Center for Evolution at the University of Bath.

The results may have implications for vaccine development.

“This knowledge will allow us to understand what a weakened version of the virus should look like,” Hirst said. "We suggest that increasing the U component, as APOBEC does in our cells, would be a smart strategy."

As of Friday morning, July 24, over 15,5 million cases of coronavirus have been diagnosed worldwide, with more than 4 million of them in the United States. More than 634 people worldwide have died as a result of the disease, including over 000 in the United States.

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