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IHV and Italian Scientists Identify Unique Mutations in SARS-CoV-2 Found in Europe and North America

April 09, 2020 | Nora Samaranayake

Davide Zella, PhD (left) and Robert Gallo, MD

The Institute of Human Virology (IHV) at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and scientists from Trieste, Italy announced today the characterization of a novel mutation in the RNA polymerase of certain viral strains of SARS-CoV-2 carried by patients located in Europe and North America.

In addition, different patterns of mutations were identified in viral strains corresponding to different geographical areas. The data were obtained by analyzing more than 200 widespread full-length genomic sequences from the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) and the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID) databases from December 2019 to March 2020.

“We are pleased to collaborate with colleagues in Trieste, and work within the framework of the Global Virus Network (GVN), to identify SARS-CoV-2 mutations and their implications in the pandemic, and to advise for therapeutics and vaccine development,” said Robert Gallo, MD, The Homer & Martha Gudelsky Distinguished Professor in Medicine, Co-Founder and Director, Institute of Human Virology (IHV) at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and Co-Founder and Chairman of the International Scientific Leadership Board of the Global Virus Network (GVN).

The findings show that SARS-CoV-2 is quickly evolving and different European, North American and Asian strains may coexist, however, more research is needed to identify the biological significance of these mutations.

“We need to understand the biological and medical significance of the mutations,” said Davide Zella, PhD, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and member, Global Virus Network. “We will continue to collaborate with our Italian colleagues to identify viral mutations in this region.”

“We are excited by these results as they can be applied to improve diagnostic tools to better detect this virus,” said Rudy Ippodrino, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer of Ulisse Biomed, Trieste, Italy.

The data were submitted to, and preprinted by, the Journal of Translational Medicine.

About the Institute of Human Virology

Formed in 1996 as a partnership between the State of Maryland, the City of Baltimore, the University System of Maryland and the University of Maryland Medical System, IHV is an institute of the University of Maryland School of Medicine and is home to some of the most globally-recognized and world-renowned experts in all of virology. The IHV combines the disciplines of basic research, epidemiology and clinical research in a concerted effort to speed the discovery of diagnostics and therapeutics for a wide variety of chronic and deadly viral and immune disorders - most notably, HIV the virus that causes AIDS. For more information, and follow us on Twitter @IHVmaryland.


Institute of Human Virology
Jennifer Gonzales
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