Arquivo para December 28th, 2021

The innocents and Epistasis

28 Dec

Much was said in an ironic tone about possible genetic variations due to the pandemic, the phenomenon exists, although it rarely occurs when there is an interaction of genes to influence some characteristic of the species, the classic case was studied by Bateson and Punnett, who studied a type of crest that appears in chickens, and is determined by two independent genes (which is equivalent to two pairs of alleles), of course this is not the case with vaccines, just to clarify the scientific question.

The innocence lies in understanding the virus mutation as capable of inducing or influencing a human genetic mutation, of course our immune system is affected, as studies try to correlate HIV with the omicron variant, but this does not mean any human genetic mutation so far.

However, epistasis has been important to study the omicron variant, in this case the virus and not the vaccine, according to a BBC News report, Professor Ed Feill, professor of microbial evolution at the University of Bath, England: “If the variant has more mutations, this does not mean that it is more dangerous, more transmissible or more capable of evading the effect of vaccines”, and many premature conclusions about this variant do not have a solid scientific basis.

The confusion is that the virus undergoes variations, but it is unfounded to imagine that these mutations affect the human genetic code, says the professor: “as a virus evolves, it can accumulate a group of mutations that, in turn, can create a variant”, “… and to detect the new variants: “ scientists track the genomic sequence of the virus”, and in this case, epistasis studies are essential to detect variants.

American evolutionary biologist Jesse Bloom, in a recent article in The New York Times, called attention to the alpha variant that has a mutation called N501Y, which is associated with the capacity for infection.

It is important to understand that the omicron variant is not completely deciphered, precisely because of its number of mutations in its epistasis, which is more difficult to detect and understand: “this opens up more evolutionary space for this”, said Feil in the article, and so the research has to observe combinations that have not been seen before.

Neither innocence to claim that there is some human genetic mutation, nor innocence to claim that the omicron variable is controlled because it offers “less danger”.

WHO has a classification of variants into “concern” and “interest” as per the table above.