AI Scientists Developed Novel Tool To Track Genetic Structure Changes of COVID-19 Virus

COVID-19 Genotyping Tool Developed By AI Scientists

As the COVID-19 virus moves from person to person, it is constantly changing. Researchers need to be able to track its development in order to fight the virus today and prepare for what it may look like tomorrow.

An innovative tool that enables researchers to track changes in the genetic structure of the SARS-CoV-2 virus has been designed by a team of healthcare professionals at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre led by Dr. Bo Wang, Artificial Intelligence (AI) Lead.

Researchers can compare the genome sequence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in their hospital against the global picture using the new COVID-19 Genotyping Tool (CGT), which offers an online and user-friendly platform. Alongside colleagues from McMaster University and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, the tool was developed by Dr. Wang’s Ph.D. student, Hassaan Maan.

Analysis of the virus could take up to a week before the development of the CGT. Now, this analysis takes minutes using the AI-driven platform.

Researchers can learn more about how the virus is moving and evolving by following these changes, which has direct implications for our collective effort to combat COVID-19, drug development, and vaccine design.

The virus genome sequences were uploaded to the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID) using the nasal swab samples from more than 20,000 COVID-29 patients. Then, virus samples obtained from around the world, the sequence of the virus in individual hospitals are compared, by using CGT. The results provide insight on when outbreaks happened, where transmission events likely occurred, and determine how infectious it is by alerting them of any key changes in the genetic makeup of the virus.

COVID-19 Genotyping Tool

An Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine, Dr. Wang says, “We are accustomed to working with big data as AI researchers. Our goal was to design a tool that would help make sense of the initiative on data sharing by theĀ  global research community during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The second wave of virus spread is often more deadly than the first, and the CGT is particularly helpful when preparing for the second wave of spreading. The CGT is helping researchers prepare to handle changes that can affect the transmissibility of the virus, the impact of vaccines, and the severity of the disease, by keeping track of mutations in the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

COVID-19 Genotyping Tool

A Ph.D. student in Dr. Wang’s lab, Hassaan Maan says, “The virus picks up small mutations along the way as it spreads through the world. In the event a different strain of SARS-CoV-2 arises, we want to be able to perform surveillance of these mutations to be prepared.”

The defining characteristics of the application are the speed of analysis and volume of data. Immediate insights into the genomic evolution are offered as the platform quickly processes user-uploaded data, and in less than 15 minutes, the results are generated.

Worldwide access to this tool will help the scientists and healthcare workers usher an end to this pandemic as quickly as possible and this the tool is purposely designed to be open-source. With the generous support of donors, Dr. Wang and his team are funded.

 

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COVID-19 Genotyping Tool Developed By AI Scientists

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