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Business News


Deadly research: Professor Nick Loman


It provides valuable epidemiologal information


revealing the chains of transmission that must be stopped in order to stop this outbreak. “We also stand to observe how the virus


adapts to a human host over time, and how human interventions, including drug treatments and eventually vaccines, exert pressure on the virus.” The consortium benefits from two major


initiatives in which the University of Birmingham has played a pivotal role – ARTIC and CLIMB. The ARTIC project, funded by a Wellcome


Trust Collaborative Award, is a pioneering scheme which puts genomics at the heart of outbreak response. Dr Josh Quick, a UKRI (UK Research and Innovation) Future Leaders Fellow in the Institute of Microbiology and Infection, has rapidly developed a method of sequencing coronavirus which was released to researchers in January, and has since been widely adopted across the world.


Dr Quick said: “Based on previous experiences


with Ebola and Zika virus we were able to rapidly develop an approach to sequencing the Covid-19 virus using a targeted method. The importance of this method is that it works well even when only minuscule amounts of virus are present in the sample, something we commonly see.”


‘At a critical moment in history this new consortium will bring together the UK's brightest and best scientists to build our understanding of this pandemic’


Meanwhile, CLIMB is described as an essential


resource for the analysis of ‘microbial big data’ with data storage capacity across four sites in the UK, including Birmingham, Warwick, Cardiff and Swansea. The Cog-UK project has already won plaudits from across medicine, academia


and politics as the battle against the deadly virus intensifies. Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: “At a


critical moment in history this new consortium will bring together the UK’s brightest and best scientists to build our understanding of this pandemic, tackle the disease and ultimately save lives. As a Government, we are working tirelessly to do all we can to fight Covid-19 to protect as many lives and save as many jobs as possible.” And Professor Sharon Peacock, Director of the


National Infection Service, Public Health England, said: “This virus is one of the biggest threats our nation has faced in recent times and crucial to helping us fight it is understanding how it is spreading. “Harnessing innovative genome technologies


will help to tease apart the complex picture of coronavirus spread in the UK, and rapidly evaluate ways to reduce the impact of this disease on our society.”


May 2020 CHAMBERLINK 25


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