Virologist Ferenc Jakab, leader of the Szentágothai Research Center, emphasized that this is an important milestone for further Hungarian and international research. He added that the aim of the Coronavirus Research Task Force “is to gain further knowledge of the virus, with an emphasis on the examination of its pathomechanism and propagation mechanism, exploration of the possible steps for prevention, as well as the development of effective antiviral drugs and vaccines in the future.” According to the professor, the current result also proves that these kinds of collaborations can bring about the success that is needed in fighting the coronavirus epidemic.
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According to the statement of the university, the Pécs Virological Research Group, lead by Gábor Kemenesi, processed the sample from an infected Hungarian patient’s pharyngeal exudate, according to the international protocols as a first step. Then the members of Genomics and Bio-informatics laboratory of the Center, Péter Urbán and Gábor Endre Tóth, defined the genome of the virus applying next-generation sequencing technologies. Dr. Róbert Herczeg, member of the Bio-informatics research group, conducted the processing and analysis of the large amount of data.
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The close cooperation of the research groups and the developed procedure makes it possible to perform the complete workflow in Hungary as fast as possible even in the case of further identified positive samples in the Szentágothai Research Center of the University of Pécs.
In a Facebook post, Virológia Pécs also posted about the most probable origin of the first Hungarian coronavirus genomes. As they said, the genomes of the virus provide a wealth of information for researchers, and enable them to look into the virus’ “family tree.” Every single mutation that the virus – which originates from China – accumulates in different people in different geographical locations can be used as a kind of imprint in case they want to explain where it came from.
According to the post, as for now, the results show that the known sequences in Hungary are coming from the focal points of Western Europe. According to background data, samples from the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Spain are the closest relatives of the Hungarian viruses.
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