A recent study in Cyprus that made global headlines over a possible discovery of a mutation dubbed DeltaCron has been brought into question, with experts suggesting contamination in the lab could likely explain the new strain’s omicron-like genetic signatures within the delta genomes.
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'How could this be an error? Our results show that evolutionary pressure on a primordial Delta variant created polymorphisms such as Omicron and then developed into DeltaCron genealogies'
According to Leondios Kostrikis, who runs a lab in biotechnology and molecular virology in Cyprus, infections from both omicron and delta variants of the coronavirus were recently discovered in a newly identified strain dubbed DeltaCron, meaning a combination of the two known strains.
A doctoral student supervised by Kostrikis, who was the primary investigator in the study, reportedly found 25 cases of the mutation and findings had been sent to an international database that tracks changes in the coronavirus.
But after deltacron was trending on social media over the weekend, some experts were casting doubt over the findings, suggesting the strain could have emerged due to sequencing errors introduced by a non-biological process.
But Kostrikis has dismissed some of the comments that raised doubt over the discovery, including criticism from Greek expert Gkikas Magiorkinis who said preliminary analysis of the study pointed to “technical errors in the lab” during the process of reading the genome.
“They don’t know the results that we have,” Kostrikis said.
The Cypriot professor went on to say that beyond the 25 cases in the study, there were 52 others that demonstrated different numbers in polymorphism at specific spots, referring to locations of one of two or more variants of a particular DNA sequence.
“How could this be an error? Our results show that evolutionary pressure on a primordial Delta variant created polymorphisms such as Omicron and then developed into DeltaCron genealogies,” Kostrikis argued.