Genetic Sequencing Could Revolutionize Public Health | Time

Genetic Sequencing Could Revolutionize Public Health | Time

ou don’t want to be a virus in Dr. David Ho’s lab. Pretty much every day since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Ho and his team have done nothing but find ways to stress SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease. His goal: pressure the virus relentlessly enough that it mutates to survive, so drug developers can understand how the virus might respond to new treatments. As a virologist with decades of experience learning about another obstinate virus, HIV, Ho knows just how to apply that mutation-generating stress, whether by starving the virus, bathing it in antibodies that disrupt its ability to infect cells, or bombarding it with enough promising antiviral drug candidates to make it blink. “We actually have more mutants [of SARS-CoV-2] selected in the lab than I suspect most labs do,” says Ho. As a result of that work, “we have basically been seeing viral evolution happen in front of our eyes for the past year and a half,” he says. Ho, director of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center at Columbia University, is among the vanguard of …
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