Why labs are printing the coronavirus genome

Why labs are printing the coronavirus genome


(dramatic music) – In December of last year, doctors in Wuhan, China had
a mystery on their hands. People in the region were coming down with an unusual pneumonia. It’s cold and flu season, but these people didn’t have either. Doctors quickly realized it
might be something entirely new. – Medical nightmare, the
coronavirus outbreak. – Never seen before coronavirus. – The number of confirmed
cases in China keeps soaring. – [Newscaster] Already 45 cases. – [Broadcaster] 200 Cases. – [Female Broadcaster] There more than 6,000 confirmed cases. – But so far, this outbreak
has gone differently from others in the past. Thanks to the latest in biotechnology, scientists have been able
to unravel the mystery at remarkable speed. They’re revealing the
biology of the new virus more quickly than ever before. And they’re hoping it’s fast enough to help drive back the disease outbreak. Chinese officials told the
World Health Organization that it had an outbreak
of some kind of virus on December 31st. By January 7th, Chinese
scientists figured out that the virus was a Coronavirus. That’s from the same
family of viruses as SARS which emerged in China in 2002 and MERS which infected people
in the Middle East in 2012. The next step in
understanding the new virus was sequencing its genome. Figuring out the unique
order of nucleotides, genetic building blocks that make it up. The new coronavirus
genome looks like this. It’s just under 30,000 bases long. The coronavirus is made of a type of genetic material called RNA. But, scientists convert it to the more recognizable DNA to make it easier to study. That’s what you’re seeing here. By January, 13, less than a
week after it was identified, scientists in Shanghai had knocked out the entire genetic
sequence of a virus sample collected from a patient. Compared though with the SARS virus, which started infecting
people in November 2002; it took until April 2003 before that virus was sequenced in its entirety. And at this point, we don’t just have one genetic sequence for the new coronavirus. Scientists have collected
and sequenced nearly two dozen samples of the virus, collected from different patients. Researchers say the speed
has been unprecedented. A lot of important things become possible once experts have this
full sequence of the virus. Notably, that blueprint can
end up in a place like this. – Yeah, this is the exact typical, all that we have is a
bunch of A, C, G and T. And for us and our machine
we can print anything. So if you want hemoglobin
today, we can print hemoglobin. If you want chicken DNA, if you want coronavirus DNA, we can do it. – Twist Bioscience is a biotech company in south San Francisco that
builds custom DNA to order. As the coronavirus outbreak progresses, scientists around the world
are turning to companies like Twist to build copies of
viral genes for urgent study. And they’re sending in lots of orders. – We expected that there would be a number of demands for
variants of the coronavirus to help in that discovery of drugs, vaccines, and diagnostic kits. And, whatever comes from the web tonight, we’ll start making tomorrow. – Custom built DNA has been
around since the 1980s, but the technology has
gotten dramatically cheaper and easier since then. So researchers today have a lot more DNA at their disposal than they did during the SARs or MERS outbreaks. – [Emily] If you go back to 2000, it would take $10.00 to
make one base of DNA. In 2010, it will make
$1.00, so ten times more. And today, it’s $00.09 per base, so again, ten times more. – That’s important, because
this kind of research requires a lot of trial and error. So the more copies of a gene
scientists have, the better. – So it’s biology. And in biology it almost
never works on the first time. You have to take a lot of
shots on goals to get there. We give people the opportunity to take more shots on goals faster. And that way they can get
to that answer faster. – There’s a few things scientists do with this genetic material. It can help create tests to screen patients for the virus. It can help researchers understand how the virus works and what
it does to cells in the body. And crucially, it could be used in the development of vaccines. One important note, even though companies like
Twist are churning out copies of the coronavirus genome, there’s no concern they’ll
accidentally start an epidemic. They’re not actually making the virus. – I think one thing that
people should remember is that nature is the
biggest bio-terrorist. You know, nature wants to kill you, and that’s what happens
with the coronavirus. So, the virus is out there. The sequence is out there. So, we are not creating more virus. We are making fragments
of the virus to research in order to enable them
to find tools to detect it and tools to fight it. (dramatic music) – The coronavirus is
still a fast developing public health crisis. It’ll be awhile before we fully understand its health impact. And longer still, before
there are treatments or vaccines available to fight it. But, thanks to the progress in DNA tech, we have a greater head
start than ever before. Thanks so much for watching. If you’re interested in learning more about the coronavirus, check out theverge.com for the latest news on the ongoing outbreak.

100 thoughts on “Why labs are printing the coronavirus genome

  1. Correction: a few commenters have noted that we aren’t using the terms “DNA” and “RNA” accurately. We’re working on a couple updates to the video. Stay tuned!

  2. It’s sad to see how many gullible people there is out there who think it’s a manufactured virus or that the US did this to China. If you had a clue about economics, trade etc. you’d know this outbreak is hurting US and global trade. China is a huge global manufacturer and the US and others rely heavily on China for parts and products, with businesses around the world now slowing as they cannot get the products they need from China as productivity has slumped massively, mass amounts of workers not turning up to work and more. Then again the US Gov is stupid and they could easily do something that they think is smart but actually shots themselves in the foot.

  3. The taxi drivers had been talking about something going around as early as December 7th of 2019. No one could confirm what it was but had been afraid it was another outbreak of SARS.

  4. 'Nature wants to kill you', I knew it. I knew someone was out for me! 😉

    But seriously, good work to all involved in sequencing the disease, working to contain it, helping those who are sick and finding a cure.

  5. Amazing!

    Back in the old days when modern scientists did not exist, this is the type of epidemic that would wipe out millions and millions of lives. Science is amazing, and thank you.

  6. I know someone personally there and the timeline of when they told the public is NOT in line with what really happened. In fact Wuhan had a huge open buffet after the date your saying they alerted the public.

  7. When you say, you've detected two dozen sequences. Does that mean, the Novel Coronavirus has began it's early stages of mutation in it's span?

    As you unravel the genome. Would that also mean, that with any other viruses this season. You could detect a more likely infection direction?

  8. No one :
    Literally no one :

    People in the commenta section here : It's not DNA, it's RNA but DNA is RNA. But you're wrong with DNA cuz it's RNA.

  9. If any viral DNA. Can be printed … Then can't a virus be made such that a dna that does not show up symptoms for a very long time … And then after say 10 -12 years when almost everything is infected suddenly it would become deadly ..

  10. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPRfaG_jWwI

    Latest wideos taken by foreign nationals in China under quarantined or semi-quarantined cities. Worth to see. Bilingual and it's kinda funny.

  11. "The Coronavirus is made up of genic material called RNA. But scientists converted it, to the more recognizable DNA, to make it easier to study." Timestamp is at 1:30

    It's very obvious that a lot of people didn't actually try to give any attention and kept complaining that this video had a lot of errors.

  12. A single-stranded RNA means it can mutate unexpectedly, and when it does, all your previous defense mechanisms will become useless.
    Soon they'll realize CRISPR is the ultimate ultimate solution. The best weapon is the one that adapts.
    If there's gonna be a CRISPR human trial I'd like to volunteer.
    Unless the consequence is growing too many tentacles.
    A few tentacles are fine.

  13. Subtitles are not in sync with like 30 sec delay, starting somewhere at 1/3. Can you please keep an eye on it? I rely on subtitles in some parts of the video

  14. What is the purpose of this video exactly? I got the impression that it was more of an ad for the company instead of information about the virus. If that is the case more power to you but it is misleading rhe way you have posted it.

  15. Despite all this tech, it has already killed more people than SARS. It was also confirmed recently to be less deadly than SARS. Less deadly, and more dead.

  16. Not a scientist just curious, so they’re basically taking the virus and somehow mutating it so it can be DNA instead of RNA?

  17. All this storm about this coronavirus is economic, just to sell vacines and medicines… this virus is probably everywhere now, but just kill somebody if this person is completely vulnerable for it.. old people, weak, living in very low temperatures, etc.. as all flu does…
    Flu always kills people in China (and the world) since ever… search for it and all you will know the truth.
    The virus H1N1 is stronger that coronavirus…. so, don’t be in panic…

  18. The CCP's first reaction was to violently quell the spread of information even from medical professionals. The CCP and Xi have shown themselves to be menaces to the world through this behavior and for years prior by allowing the trade and consumption of exotic wildlife despite the known origins therein of SARS.

  19. You seriously needed to print the genome on paper? "1:23". This is why coronavirus wants to kill us all – people are morons.

  20. Super helpful video, many thanks for producing this Verge!

    I am curious to what extent our advancement in the science to identify this sort of virus may (or may not) itself be a contributor to a heightened level of public alarm.

    To that end perhaps I will pose my question as follows: To what extent is the following statement (that I am making up on my own) true/untrue?

    ‘Some number of years ago (20, 30?) we did not have the technology to isolate/identify COVID-19 as a specific virus. As such at that time we would most likely have thought of this as a particularly nasty cold/flu bug that is ‘going around', and therefore it is arguable that the fact that we now have the technology to specifically identify and detect this may, in and of itself, be part of the heightened level of concern. To wit: Arguably if we were unable to “put our finger” on this we may not have a particularly higher level of alarm and may never have really known there was much going on other than a particularly hard cold/flu season.’

    Is that an unfair characterization? If so what are the flaws in that line of logic?

    Thanks!

  21. Know 6 Ways To Fight With Coronavirus | 2020 | Symptoms | Quick Review |

    LINK;

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JxGl_5cVHrg

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