Genetic sequencing report of UK-returnees on Monday

Nimhans to release genetic sequencing of UK-returnees on Monday

The speculation over transmission of the new strain of Covid virus among the 13 returnees from the UK to Karnataka will be set at rest by Monday, according to experts at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (Nimhans). Currently, the lab at Nimhans is processing 12 samples, while the doctors are awaiting another sample from Mysuru.

Dr V Ravi, Head of the Department, Neurovirology, Nimhans, told DH that the results of these samples will be out on Monday. “We have received 13 Covid samples including nine from Bengaluru, three from Shivamogga. One more sample from Mysuru is yet to reach us. Sequencing results of all these samples will be out on Monday.”

Even though the laboratory at Nimhans is sequencing the Covid samples for now, later on, the additional samples will be sent to the laboratory at National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), according to Dr V Ravi.

“We can sequence 12 samples per run and it will take about 72 hours to sequence a sample. While the run takes about 12 to 24 hours, the analysis alone will take about 48 hours. NCBS will help us in sequencing a few samples and we have requested access to their server,” he said.

Prof Satyajit Mayor, Director, NCBS said, “At NCBS, we have large next-generation sequencing arrays - Illumina, but we are also trying to set up Nanopore technology which will sequence a small number of samples. We can run even one sequence in Illumina but the cost is prohibitive. But Nimhans has this technology and we can help with the analysis of the sequence.”

He further clarified that the reference strain to confirm whether the sample has the UK strain of the virus - will be taken from an international repository of genome sequences: GISAID.

“We will be looking for a mutation in a single amino acid which is responsible for increased transmissibility. But there are nine mutants in the variant. To determine where the variant is coming from, we have to know the entire genome sequence.” GISAID is a global science initiative and primary source that provides open-access to genomic data of influenza viruses and the novel coronavirus.


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