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Mutational Dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 in Austria

Medical University of Vienna and CeMM investigate genome evolution of the corona virus
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(Vienna, 27-03-2020) CeMM, the Research Center for Molecular Medicine of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, and the MedUni Vienna are investigating to advancing our molecular understanding of the COVID-19 pandemic and the causative pathogen, SARS-CoV-2. Biomedical research on the virus and the disease will contribute substantially to informed policy decisions and, ultimately, the development of new treatments.

An interdisciplinary team at CeMM (project leadership of virologist Andreas Bergthaler and computational biologist Christoph Bock) and the MedUni Vienna (virologist Elisabeth Puchhammer-Stöckl) will investigate SARS-CoV-2 genome evolution in patients by deep sequencing and sophisticated computational analyses. This will result in rapid open sharing of SARS-CoV-2 genomes from Austria, inform epidemiologists to reconstruct transmission chains, and offer invaluable insights into the molecular dynamics of the ravaging viral pandemic.

The work is part of a collaboration network with Elisabeth Puchhammer-Stöckl from the Center for Virology of the Medical University of Vienna as primary partner. The network is open to additional collaborations and especially welcomes contributions from clinical virologists and diagnostics laboratories across Austria. First collaborations with evolution biologists, population geneticists and virologists have already started. Integration of Austria’s contribution into an emerging world-wide map of SARS-CoV-2 mutations will help decipher the mutational dynamics underlying the pandemic.

“CeMM is focusing efforts to soon openly share the first SARS-CoV-2 genomes from Austria with the world. We encourage the scientific community and industry to use these results to accelerate research to fight the coronavirus, and hope the data will support policy makers and epidemiologists to better understand how the virus is spreading”, says Giulio Superti-Furga, CeMM Director and Professor for Medical Systems Biology at the Medical University of Vienna.