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Canadian Team Sequencing SARS Virus

NEW YORK, April 9 - Scientists from the Genome Science Center at the British Columbia Cancer Agency are sequencing the SARS virus, and expect to have a completed viral genome within as little as two weeks, Canadian newspapers have reported.


At least 30 genome researchers are involved in the project, which is being led by virologist Caroline Astell, according to a report in the Ottawa Citizen.


Early identifications using electron microscopy, PCR, and even a viral microarray have identified the SARS virus as a coronavirus, and the Lancet reported a study confirming these results today. But Astell told the Toronto Globe and Mail yesterday that "only 50 to 60 percent" was anything like known coronaviruses.


This sequencing project is part of the overall global push to nail down the biological etiology and mechanisms of a pathogen that has led to over 2,000 cases of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome since it was first reported in Southern Chinaand Hong Kongin late March. Labs in over 11 countries are contributing to this effort, according to press reports.

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