null Tackling coronavirus with scientific databases

Tackling coronavirus with scientific databases

Coronavirus can be overcome through international cooperation and sharing of data, and electronic research infrastructures can help with this. They include hardware, information networks, databases and services that together make up a network of global information exchange. Finland is a member of these infrastructures and the benefits are undeniable.

The new coronavirus, which is of animal origin, is similar to the SARS virus. This is why the virus has been named SARS-CoV-2 (Acute Respiratory Syndrome-related coronavirus 2). Coronavirus is an RNA virus, which means it mutates quickly.

At the beginning of April, the coronavirus had more than one million growth media, meaning infected people in whose cells the virus could mutate. A virus may develop a few mutations for which even new vaccines do not work. As viruses mutate and reappear, there is no option but to continuously develop new medicines and vaccines.

Coronavirus can be overcome through international cooperation and sharing of data, and electronic research infrastructures can help with this. They include hardware, information networks, databases and services that together make up a network of global information exchange. Finland is a member of these infrastructures and the benefits are undeniable.

Huge data resources, such as UniProt andENA are part of the ELIXIR infrastructure services. ELIXIR (European Life Science Infrastructure for Biological Information) collects, maintains, stores and combines data produced by biological and medical research.

The service makes it possible to link information on the interaction of proteins with other molecules and their location in cells and organisms.

Ensuring the maintenance of databases is the main task of ELIXIR. As researchers design a vaccine for coronavirus, they need to make use of these databases. When designing a vaccine or antiviral drug, it is important to understand the genome of the virus and its own proteins.

Data collection, research, and maintenance of a data infrastructure containing information on viral and bacterial ecosystems would be the best way for society to manage risks. If desired, investigational vaccines and medicinal substances could be developed in advance to prevent the spread of viruses so that healthcare preparedness could be built up more rapidly in a crisis.

Read the whole article here: Kaleva 9 April 2020; Tiedolla uupelointia vastaan – koronavirus laitetaan kuriin tieteen tietokantojen avulla (in Finnish)

Tommi Nyrönen is a Doctor of Philosophy and Biochemist, a Docent at the University of Helsinki and Director of the Finnish ELIXIR Center at CSC.

ELIXIR

ELIXIR builds infrastructure to support bio-sector research. It joins 21 European countries and the leading organizations of the European Laboratory of Molecular Biology (EMBL), creating a common infrastructure for biological information. Its Finnish center is located at CSC – IT Center for Science Ltd.
http://www.elixir-finland.org
http://www.elixir-europe.org

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Tommin Nyrönen

Dr. Tommi Nyrönen leads a team of experts in the European Life Science Infrastructure for Biological information ELIXIR at CSC.

tommi.nyronen(at)csc.fi