Scientists from the Institute of Biomedical Sciences at the University of São Paulo (ICB-USP) managed, for the first time in Brazil, to isolate the strain of the Ômicron variant in cells. With this, laboratories across the country will be able to work on a way to detect the variant more quickly, in addition to testing the effectiveness of vaccines against the Covid-19 strain.
These collected samples were obtained from a Brazilian couple who live in South Africa and were traveling to Brazil. According to Agência FAPESP, a public institution that supports the project, the couple underwent exams at the Albert Einstein Hospital, in São Paulo, where the infection was detected and the samples were sent to ICB-USP last Wednesday (8).
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“Now, we are preparing aliquots of the omicron strain to be able to distribute to laboratories and groups of researchers that want to standardize new tests to quickly identify this variant in other cities and states”, said Edison Luiz Durigon, professor at ICB, to FAPESP.
The ICB applied the same Ômicron isolation technique to the original coronavirus variant early last year. It is a neutralization by cytopathic effect, the VNT, that was enhanced during the Zika virus epidemic.
These samples are incubated in Vero cell cultures and stored in an oven for between 48 and 72 hours. It is during this period that scientists observe changes – the so-called cytopathic effect – in the host cells.
“The cells are quite rounded. Some variants of SARS-CoV-2 even cause syncytia [formação de células multinucleadas por fusão de células uninucleadas ou por muitas divisões celulares incompletas de células],” explained Durigon.
The scientists’ predictions are that in two weeks there will be enough stock of the virus to start distributing it to other laboratories in the country.
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