• The Financial District


A professor of virology at Gunma University's graduate school succeeded in artificial synthesis of the new coronavirus, which he says can be useful in simulating infections and elucidating the approximately 30,000 bases of ribonucleic acid, according to a report from Mainchi Shimbun

Professor Wataru Kamitani implanted COVID-19 genes obtained from the National Institute of Infectious Diseases into bacterial artificial chromosomes, and produced the virus by reproducing the genetic information within a cell.

It is known that the novel coronavirus's genetic code is about 80% the same as that of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus, but the ORF3b gene -- related to the activation of immune cells -- between the two viruses clearly differ in their length. Artificial synthesis can aid in the elucidation of such individual genes.

Furthermore, Kamitani says genetic modification to implant green fluorescent protein can make the virus exhibit fluorescence, making it possible for the virus to be seen by humans.

Kamitani explained, "An artificially synthesized virus is the first tool in the process of unraveling the novel coronavirus. It is possible to simulate the spread of infections and growth of the virus to find out how pathogenicity occurs."

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