ITU Scientists Sequenced the First Coronavirus Genome in Istanbul

by İTÜ | Apr 27, 2020
Under the leadership of Prof. Dr. Gizem Dinler Doğanay from Molecular Biology and Genetics Department of the Faculty of Science and Letters, the research team carrying out their studies in the Advanced Genetic Analysis Laboratory (GLAB), sequenced the virus genome from a patient’s sample in Istanbul.

In the Advanced Genetic Analysis Laboratory (GLAB), which is a joint Research and Molecular Diagnosis Center of Istanbul Technical University (ITU), Ümraniye Training and Research Hospital and Provincial Health Directorate, enables the examination of familial cancer syndromes and important studies are being carried out in the process of combating the pandemic.


The team led by Prof. Dr. Gizem Dinler Doğanay of ITU Molecular Biology and Genetics Department and GLAB Coordinator Assoc. Dr. Levent Doğanay, of Ümraniye Training and Research Hospital, Faculty of Gastroenterology Clinics, succeeded in sequencing the virus sample taken from a patient admitted to the hospital.

The virus genome resulting from the study was registered in the international database; GISAID database.

“A guidance in terms of vaccine, drug and kit development”

Professor Dr. Gizem Dinler Doğanay stated that they have taken a sample from a person who applied to Ümraniye Training and Research Hospital in Istanbul within the scope of the study and added:

“The sample we took is a sample of the throat and nasal swab. We isolated the RNA of viruses in this swab sample, we converted the RNA into DNA. Then we sequenced, which nucleotides the DNA consisted of. The result we found is the genome of the virus in our patient. In the phylogenetic analysis, there is evidence that the arrival sequence access path of the virus is via France to Belgium, and from Belgium to Istanbul. Every country is sequencing the genome of the viruses observed in the patients and registering it in the International Database. Thus, we sequenced the genome of the virus we received and recorded it in GISAID. In the meantime, we compare it with the results of other countries. 

By sequencing the arrival access path of more viruses in Turkey or in different places in Istanbul, we can observe whether there is a difference between the acute or mild form of patients. Increasing the number, hence making a much comprehensive research will provide information about the spread of the outbreak in Turkey. In addition, it will be guiding in terms of developing vaccines, medicines and kits.”

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On 16-17 April 2020, two new virus genomes were added by GLAB to the GISAID database. GLAB, which is converted to diagnostic laboratory status in the framework of Covid-19, carries on its research activities with the support given by the Presidency of Institutes of Health in Turkey (TÜSEB).