THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A study conducted by a group of researchers at the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), New Delhi, has revealed that the severity of Covid-19 in the country India is less compared to other countries.
This is because of unique microRNA, called hsa-miR - 27b, which successfully mutates the coronavirus responsible for Covid-19. In other words, Indians have a comparatively better immunity compared to other countries which will help us fight the pandemic better.
The findings, which is yet to be peer-reviewed, is published in prepreint portal bioRxiv. It claims that mutation spectrums of the virus were different in four countries – USA, Italy, Nepal and India - where the researchers conducted the study.
Surprisingly, sequence from Nepal showed no variations, while the maximum number of mutations were identified in Indian sequence.
“We speculate that the presence of country-specific mutation spectrum may explain the severity of illness in other countries compared to India,” said Dr Dinesh Gupta, the lead researcher who authored the paper.
The researchers said that the presence of the unique mutations identified in the genome from Italy are probably responsible for the sudden upsurge in the number of affected cases and deaths there. However, this speculation may have to be verified with more evidence, they said.
Role of microRNA
Host antiviral miRNAs play a crucial role in the regulation of immune response to virus infection. Many known human miRNAs appear to be able to target viral genes and their functions like interfering with replication, translation and expression. Out of all the miRNAs, hsa-miR-27b is the only unique miRNA specific to India SARS-CoV2 and showed no significant complementarity-based nucleotide-binding with the strain of SARS-CoV2 from other countries, the study observed.
HIV anti-viral regimen
Though there were reports that the use of HIV anti-viral drugs had no effect in treating Covid-19 cases in China, the Indian Council of Medical Research (India) has issued guidelines after similar drugs showed positive results in treating patients.A few other drugs, including the FDA-approved antiviral and antimalarials, are being used with significant claimed-successes. Needless to say, the variation in the protein sequences may have some influence on the therapeutic effects of these drugs, the study said.