Genomics: How a Cutting Edge Field is Fighting COVID-19
The onset of the global pandemic triggered a worldwide effort to fight the coronavirus and its associated illness, COVID-19. One of the most important sets of tools in this fight has been the field of genomics: The study of genetic information, of humans, animals, or, in the case of COVID-19, viruses. This article by Global X examines the ways in which the field of genomics has contributed, and continues to contribute, to the fight against COVID-19.
Since the human genome was first mapped in 2003, genetic sequencing (The process of discovering how an organism's DNA or RNA are organized) has developed significantly. When the first cases of COVID-19 appeared in Wuhan, China, Chinese researchers were able to use rapid next generation sequencing (NGS) to map and identify the novel coronavirus in just 12 days.
This genetic sequencing has allowed for the development of tests to diagnose patients and the development of tests to identify antibodies in patients who contracted, and then recovered from, COVID-19.
Genomic sequencing also contributes to efforts to trace the history and transmission of COVID-19. For example, sequencing allowed researchers to identify bats as the point of origin of the virus' transmission to humans, and allowed them to trace the geographic origins of specific virus outbreaks. As of June 5th, sequencing efforts around the novel coronavirus have expanded significantly, including 30 million diagnostic tests and 41,000 genetic sequences.
Sequencing the novel coronavirus is not enough to win the fight against the global pandemic. Instead, effective treatments must be developed, and genomics has a role to play.
For example, sequencing of human DNA and the novel coronavirus revealed the role that certain proteins in the human body play in binding the novel coronavirus to human receptors. From that information, researchers were able to identify 430 existing medications that had the potential to prevent this binding from occurring.
Other genomics-driven efforts to develop treatments for COVID-19 include the development of 77 compounds that might prevent the binding of the novel coronavirus to receptors within the human body, the use of Remdesivir to prevent its replication once inside human cells, and research into existing drugs to reduce the body's inflammatory reaction to COVID-19.
Genomics even has a role to play in the pursuit of a vaccine for COVID-19. Using the genomic information available on the virus, researchers are working to develop DNA-based and RNA-based vaccines to safely and effectively protect against COVID-19 by encouraging the human body to produce antigens that fight the novel coronavirus.
Genomics is currently being used in the battle against COVID-19, but it has many other applications as well. Investments in this field, therefore, may see strong returns as genomics continues to make a difference in the field of medicine and health.
Blue Water Capital Management, LLC can discuss how genomics and biotech investments can fit into your portfolio.