People have genomes and so do viruses. As we find our way through the COVID-19 pandemic, those two genomes are key pieces needing immediate attention from researchers.
Gerry Wright from McMaster University is working to identify the genetic points of vulnerability of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and to determine how an individual’s genome is a factor in the severity of the disease in patients.
His team has the expertise in the application of genomics in identifying drug targets and finding possible therapeutic compounds. They have also been studying antibiotic resistance which has added a wrinkle in the treatment of COVID-19 that Wright feels should be an important consideration for clinicians.
With funding through the Canadian Institute of Health Research rapid response program they will pinpoint they characteristics of the virus and of the human host which makes it possible for the virus to replicate itself rapidly. The work can be applied to the current outbreak but will also lay the groundwork to ensure mitigation strategies are in place for future outbreaks.
Freelance broadcaster Don Hill talked with Gerry Wright about his work and the role of genomics in dealing with the pandemic.