Ground Report | New Delhi: A coronavirus epidemic hit Asia; Talking about the coronavirus is like talking about the present pandemic, although sometimes we forget that this virus has more history than the one it began to write in 2019. For example, in 2002 an outbreak of SARS-CoV was detected in China that infected about 8,000 people, while MERS-CoV in 2012 spread to 27 countries.
The most curious thing is that these cases are not the only ones that humanity has faced since a recent study, published in the journal Current Biology, claims that Asia was rocked by a coronavirus outbreak 25,000 years ago.
According to Yassine Souilmi, one of the authors of the finding, in The Conversation magazine, since our species decided to migrate to other parts of the world, it began to face new viral challenges that triggered adaptations within our genes.
“These adaptations may have included physiological or immunological changes that improved resistance to infection or reduced the health impacts of the disease,” says the expert.
DNA is the library that hides all these changes and, given the latest advances in genetics, Yassine and her team decided to investigate it thoroughly to discover genetic traces of historical events related to a coronavirus.
“Our team was curious to see if historical encounters with ancient coronaviruses had left such a trace in human populations today. In addition to revealing historical coronavirus outbreaks, this information may contain new insights into the genetic basis of coronavirus infection and how these viruses cause disease in modern humans, ”says Yassine Souilmi. (A coronavirus epidemic hit Asia)
To do this, the researchers used data from the 1000 Genomes Project, which is the largest public catalog of common human genetic variation and looked at changes in human genes that encode proteins that interact with SARS-CoV-2.
They then synthesized human and SARS-CoV-2 proteins, without using living cells, and showed that these interact directly and specifically, pointing to the conserved nature of the mechanism that coronaviruses use for cell invasion.
“We apply state-of-the-art computational analysis to the genomes of more than 2,500 people from 26 populations around the world. We found adaptation signatures in 42 different human genes that encode viral interaction proteins (VIPs) ”, says the expert.
Likewise, these signals were present in only five populations that were all of Asian origin, “the ancestral homeland of the coronavirus family”: “This suggests that the ancestors of modern East Asians were initially exposed to coronaviruses around 25,000 ago. years ”, affirms the researcher.
“By discovering the genes affected by historical viral outbreaks, our study points to the promise of evolutionary genetic analysis as a new tool to combat future outbreaks. The conversation ”, he concludes.