Science

New app can carry out Covid-19 genome analysis within minutes

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on September 30, 2020

Researchers at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Australia have developed a new smartphone app called Genopo that will track and monitor the genome of the SARS-CoV-2 within minutes, per a study published in the journal Communications Biology.

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The researchers said in their study: “Here we introduce Genopo, a mobile toolkit for nanopore sequencing analysis. Genopo compacts popular bioinformatics tools to an Android application, enabling fully portable computation.”

Methodology

To test Genopo’s utility, researchers set out to determine the complete genome sequence of the human coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 in nine patient isolates sequenced on a nanopore device. Genopo executed this workflow in less than 30 minutes per sample on a range of popular smartphones.

Researchers explained that the app can be used to profile DNA methylation in a human genome sample, illustrating a flexible, efficient architecture that is suitable to run many popular bioinformatics tools and accommodate small or large genomes.

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Genopo compacts popular bioinformatics tools to an Android application, suitable for smartphones and tablet computers.

Results

The entire workflow was completed by Genopo in 27 minutes per sample, on average, detecting 5–10 mutations and generating a complete consensus genome for SARS-CoV-2 in each patient.

Commenting on the app, Ira Deveson from the Garvan Institute said in a statement: “This illustrates a flexible, efficient architecture that is suitable to run many popular bioinformatics tools and accommodate small or large genomes.”

According to Deveson, the app will be an effective and easily available tool for the mass as not everyone has an access to the high-power computing resources that are required for DNA and RNA analysis, but most people have access to a smartphone.

“We hope this will make genomics much more accessible to researchers to unlock the information in DNA or RNA to the benefit of human health, including in the current pandemic,” Deveson added.

Deveson believes that the fast, real-time genomic analysis is more crucial today than ever, as a central method for tracking the spread of coronavirus.

“Our app makes the genomic analysis more accessible, literally placing the technology into the pockets of scientists around the world,” Deveson said.

Published on September 30, 2020

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