New study finds COVID-19 DNA linked to Moderna patent filed in 2016, sparks discussion of lab leak theory | The Weather Channel – Articles from The Weather Channel

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(IANS)

A team of international researchers, including Indians, have discovered that the COVID-19 virus contains a tiny piece of DNA that matches the sequence patented by Moderna three years before the start of the pandemic.

The findings, published in Frontiers in virologyhas raised new suspicions that the COVID-19 virus may have been tinkered with in a lab, Daily Mail reported.

The team of scientists, including Akhil Varshney of Dr. Shroff Charity Eye Hospital in New Delhi, showed a small snippet of Moderna-owned genetic material in the virus’ spike protein.

But records show Moderna filed the patent in February 2016 as part of its cancer research division, according to the report.

In the study, the team compared the composition of COVID-19 to millions of sequenced proteins in an online database.

The virus is made up of 30,000 letters of genetic code that contain the information it needs to spread, called nucleotides.

It’s the only coronavirus of its kind to carry 12 unique letters that allow its spike protein to be activated by a common enzyme called furin, allowing it to spread easily between human cells.

Analysis of the original COVID-19 genome revealed that the virus shares a specific 19-letter sequence with a genetic section belonging to Moderna, which has a total of 3,300 nucleotides, according to the report.

The patented sequence is part of a gene called MSH3 that affects how damaged cells repair themselves in the body.

Scientists have highlighted this pathway as a potential target for new cancer treatments.

Twelve of the shared letters make up the structure of the COVID-19 furin cleavage site, with the rest matching nucleotides on a nearby part of the genome.

The researchers suggest that the virus may have mutated to have a furin cleavage site during experiments on human cells in the laboratory.

“The corresponding code may have originally been introduced into the COVID-19 genome through infected human cells expressing the MSH3 gene,” wrote Dr. Balamurali Ambati, from the University of Oregon, in the US. ‘study.

At the same time, the team also claimed that there is a one in three trillion chance that Moderna’s streak will appear randomly through natural evolution.

“We’re talking about a very, very, very small piece of 19 nucleotides,” Professor Lawrence Young, a virologist at the University of Warwick, told the Daily Mail.

“So that doesn’t mean a whole lot, to be frank, if you do that kind of research, you can still find matches.

“Sometimes these things happen by chance, sometimes it’s the result of convergent evolution (when organisms evolve independently to have similar traits to adapt to their environment).

“It’s a bizarre observation, but I wouldn’t call it a smoking gun because it’s too small.

“It doesn’t advance us any further in the debate about whether COVID-19 was engineered,” Young said.

A statement from US drugmaker Moderna is expected, according to the report.

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The above article was published by a news agency with minimal changes to the title and text.

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