A team of scientists has used artificial intelligence technology to identify the underlying genomic signature for 29 different DNA sequences of the novel coronavirus. The team also included Indian origin, Gurjit Randhawa, from Western University in Canada, PTI reported. According to the researchers, the new discovery would provide an important tool for vaccine and drug developers across the globe who are trying to develop the treatment of the COVID-19 infection.
In the study that was published in the Science journal PLOS ONE, the researchers asserted that the newly discovered tool would allow other researchers to easily classify viruses like SARS-CoV-2 in minutes. They also added that their discovery provided a process of “high importance for strategic planning and mobilizing needs during pandemic”.
The research supported the hypothesis that COVID-19 infection originated in Sarbecovirus, a subgroup of betacoronavirus in bats. The researchers also stated that the "ultra-fast, scalable, and highly accurate" classification system used a new graphics-based, specialised software and decision-tree approach to illustrate the classification and arrive at the best choice out of all possible outcomes.
Speaking to PTI, Kathleen Hill, a professor at the University of Western Ontario in Canada said, "All we needed was the COVID-19 DNA sequence to discover its own intrinsic sequence pattern. We used that signature pattern and a logical approach to match that pattern as close as possible to other viruses and achieved a fine level of classification in minutes -- not days, not hours but minutes, she added. As of now, the classification tool has been used to analyse nearly 5000 different viral genomic sequences, including 29 novel coronavirus sequences available.''
Researchers also believed that the tool will be an essential component in the toolkit for vaccine and drug developers, front-line health-care workers, researchers and scientists during this global pandemic and beyond, PTI reported.
(With inputs from agencies)
(Image credits: PTI)